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Date issued: 21 March 2019
A landlord and a property management company have been found guilty of a total of 56 offences, in three separate successful prosecutions by Colchester Borough Council.
On 14 March, Colchester Magistrates Court found landlord Mr Raymond McSweeney guilty of 20 contraventions of the Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) regulations, in relation to a property he owned and managed in Mile End Road, Colchester.
The breaches related to fire and electrical safety, and living conditions within the property including a blocked fire escape route, exposed electrical wiring, extensive mould growth in the shared bathroom, general disrepair to the communal areas and unhygienic conditions.
The court fined Mr McSweeney £3,100 for the offences and ordered him to pay £3,998 costs and a victim surcharge of £35.
In summing up, the District Judge commented that the regulations were clearly breached at the property and that, although there hadn’t been any serious consequences because of the breaches, there was serious potential for these to occur.
The second successful prosecution took place at Basildon Magistrates Court, on 18 March, where London-based property management company, Ankor Limited, was also found guilty of breaching 36 HMO regulations for two properties in St Mary’s Fields, Colchester.
Ankor Limited, which was the HMO Licence Holder for both properties in St Mary’s Fields, breached fire and electrical safety regulations, and the housing conditions did not meet the necessary standards required by legislation.
The breaches resulted in tenants living with no hot water or heating, fire safety issues, accumulations of household waste, electrical hazards and poor property maintenance.
The tenants contacted the council’s Private Sector Housing Team, in November 2017, after their attempts to contact Ankor Limited about the issues were ignored. The company also failed to provide electrical and gas safety certificates for the properties, when requested by the council.
Since the council’s involvement, the owner has now appointed a new property manager for the two HMOs in St Mary’s Fields.
Ankor Limited is due to be sentenced for these offences at Chelmsford Magistrates Court on 11 July 2019.
Councillor Tina Bourne, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities, said: “The breaches at these properties left more than a dozen tenants living in unsafe living conditions, which put them at risk in their homes.
“Colchester Borough Council is committed to improving standards of private sector housing accommodation across the borough, and when accommodation is not being responsibly managed and regulations are breached, we will work with those involved to resolve the issues – but, if this proves to be unsuccessful, we will take legal action to remedy the situation and ensure tenants can enjoy a safe and healthy home which meets regulations.”
Both landlords have the right to appeal these decisions.