£20,000 bill for Colchester landlord who rented out a ‘fire risk’ and left tenents in the cold

Colchester Magistrates Court

Colchester Magistrates Court - Credit: Su Anderson

A Colchester landlord has been told to pay £20,000 court costs after leaving tenents in cold conditions in a flat that had an ‘increased fire risk’.

A Colchester landlord has been told to pay £20,000 court costs after leaving tenents in cold conditions in a flat that had an ‘increased fire risk’.

Cyril Thomas, of property management company Platinum Crown Investments Ltd was found guilty of nine offences in relation to a house in multiple occupation (HMO) which he owned in Hythe Hill.

A court heard on Wednesday (DEC 20) that in December 2015, inspections of a flat about the letting office in Hythe Hill was found to have been ‘poorly converted’ without building regulations approval and that the property was an increased fire risk.

The court also heard that an inaccessible fuse box had meant that the people who lived in the house had been left in cold and dark conditions for two nights after the electrics tripped. Mr Thomas was fined £1000 for each of the offences and ordered to pay over £11,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £100 by Colchester Magistrates.

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The case against Mr Thomas was brought by Colchester Borough Council, and a spokesperson said: “Breaching the HMO Management Regulations is a criminal offence.

“While the council will try to work with landlords to seek their compliance where serious breaches are identified, a prosecution will always be considered, as in this instance.

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“Landlords and managing agents have a duty to act professionally to ensure that they meet all the legal requirements.

“For HMOs, this includes complying with HMO management regulations, where applicable obtaining an HMO licence and carrying out a fire safety risk assessment.

Councillor Tina Bourne, portfolio holder for housing and communities, said: “The fine reflects the serious impact that these breaches could have had on the health and safety of the four households who lived in the Hythe Hill flat.

“Ignoring regulations and cutting corners in regard to HMO management and building regulations can put lives at risk. In this case, it resulted in a group of tenants being left without power for two nights during the coldest time of year, and could have had much more serious consequences. We will always take action wherever officers find that a HMO is not being responsibly managed.

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