Bristol landlord fined after concerns over safety of residents

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A Bristol landlord and agent have been handed a £330,000 sanction after being found guilty of poor management of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) that raised concerns for the safety of 18 residents, including six children

Bristol Magistrates Court found Adam Habane, of 101 Dove Street, and Lloyd Beckford, of 24 Lower Ashley Road, guilty of poor management and failure to provide information with regard to seven flats at 24, Lower Ashley Road, St Agnes, Bristol.

The case saw total fines and costs exceeding £327,000 handed out to the companies managing the property, Ashley Marketing Services and Eunicareltd Ltd and their directors Habane and Beckford.

Bristol City Council’s private housing team brought the charges after visiting the property in September 2019.

Officers found it had been poorly converted into a HMO with up to 18 people living there, including six children.

Serious concerns

The property was discovered to be in very poor repair and poorly managed, with particular concerns for the safety of the occupants due to the absence of operating fire alarm systems.

The concern was so great that, as a precautionary measure, the council provided battery operated smoke detectors to the property that day.

Following the visit numbers living there reduced and the families moved on or were rehoused and the council continued with additional enforcement action under the Housing Act 2004 which ultimately prohibited the property for occupation.

While this work was in progress, in March 2020, council officers returned to the property after a complaint from the occupants that there was no hot water or heating available.

The inspection revealed conditions to be much the same with, in addition, the boiler not working adequately or safely to provide heating and hot water to all of the flats, in breach of management regulations.

Despite a request for gas and electricity safety certificates to be provided within seven days, none were received.

Breaches of management

Management regulations are designed to ensure tenants live in safe, clean and acceptable conditions with access to the amenities they need and are aware of how to contact their landlord should a problem arise.

This includes systems crucial to the safety of the occupiers, such as gas and electrical systems as well as the fire safety systems.

Landlords must adhere to these regulations which ensures standards are met and maintained.

Numerous breaches of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2007 (the management regulations) made under Section 234(1) of the Housing Act 2004 were identified.

Cramped filthy bathrooms, holes in the ceilings and hallways which meant fire and smoke could easily pass within the flats, as well as obstructed fire escapes, doors that did not shut or lock, inadequate damaged kitchens and electrical systems in poor repair, were also uncovered.

Helen Godwin, cabinet member for women, children and homes, said: “We are committed to protecting people in private housing against the risks posed by poor property management and unacceptable conditions.

“This case illustrates clearly that we will use appropriate powers to prosecute those who put tenants in danger through their own neglect or sub-standard practices.”

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