Landlord given record fine for ignoring safety improvement notices
Published: Tuesday 27th March 18
A landlord who ignored a series of housing safety regulations and flouted laws designed to protect tenants’ rights has been handed a record fine after being taken to court by the council.
Ashfaq Spaul’s company AA Property and Construction Services Ltd was ordered to pay just under £40,000 in fines and court costs for failing to failing to comply with a series of improvement notices issued to two properties in Tooting.
Its tenants had contacted the council to complain of leaks, damp and defective fire safety equipment, but when instructed to make the necessary repairs there was no response.
Among the defects were inadequate fire doors and other fire safety breaches at a five bedroom house that had been split into bedsits in Graveney Road in Tooting.
At another property the company owned in the same street damp problems caused by defective drains and guttering had not been addressed and were so bad they were causing penetrating damp to the neighbouring house.
When the company was required to produce documents relating to gas and electrical safety at one of the properties to prove they had been installed correctly by a qualified person it failed to respond.
And despite repeated attempts by council staff who are tasked with supporting people in the private rented sector to ensure they have decent housing, to secure improvements at the two properties, nothing was done.
As a consequence his company was prosecuted by the council and pleaded guilty to three offences at Lavender Hill magistrates earlier this month. In total the company was fined £30,750 and ordered to pay court costs amounting to £8,720 – a total of £39,470 – the largest sum a landlord has had to pay in a case brought by the council.
The court heard that Mr Spaul’s company had previously been prosecuted by the council for similar failings in 2013 and 2017.
Houda Al-Sharifi Wandsworth’s director of public health said: “This was a comprehensive series of failings by this landlord to provide safe and adequate housing for his tenants.
“He has learned another expensive lesson that if you fail in your duties as a landlord then you are likely to face legal action. This should also serve as a warning to other landlords who think they can ignore requests for repairs or fail to demonstrate that their gas and electrical appliances have been fitted by a competent and qualified person.”
The council employs a team of officers to help ensure tenants live in well maintained accommodation, and to help landlords provide a high quality service, by:
• arranging advice and training
• inspecting properties
• encouraging tenants to try and resolve issues directly with landlords
• investigating complaints about disrepair or safety issues
• serving notices on landlords to carry out repairs
• if the repairs are not carried out, prosecuting or fining landlords; and
• carrying out the work and sending the bill to the landlord
• working with landlords’ associations and the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme to ensure good practice
Find out more at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/privatehousing.