Court supports high fine for landlord after family coercion

Court supports high fine for landlord after family coercion

Court supports high fine for landlord after family coercion

A landlord must pay £24,000 if he fails to comply with an improvement notice served on him.

Landlord Lakhbir Singh Rakhra was reported to the council’s housing regulation team by his tenant in 2021. The single parent of four had been living in the Rochford Gardens property without heating since 2016 and had made numerous complaints to the landlord, but he had failed to address hazards in her home.

After the council inspected the property, he wrote a letter to Rakhra requesting him to carry out the repair work in the property, but he did not do so.

In May 2022, he was issued an improvement notice, which required him to make the repairs and install the correct heating by July 2022 or face a fine.

He failed to comply and was fined £25,000 by the council in February 2023, as the failure was an offence under the Housing Act 2004. The heating was not repaired until October 2022.

The landlord appealed against the fine to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), claiming that the tenant had obstructed him in carrying out the work.

However, following a hearing in March this year, in which the tenant gave evidence in support of the council’s case, the court ruled on 17 June that

Rakhra had committed an offence and upheld the fine, minus £1,000 for wear and tear.

The Tribunal stated: “It is a substantial penalty, but the offence was serious. In effect, the Appellant failed to comply with essential repairs that he should have carried out anyway before he received the notice. He then failed to comply with the notice itself.

“If he was really being bothered by his tenant, he could have applied for a cessation order in the County Court. He didn’t do that, which supports the fact that there was no problem in the first place. He is clearly an experienced landlord who should know better.”

A council spokesman said: “This case should never have come to court. The landlord should have fulfilled his duties, acted on his tenant’s concerns and resolved the issues identified. We hope this will serve as a warning to other landlords to take their responsibilities seriously and ensure their tenants have a safe and fully functioning home.”

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