Friday, 1 May 2009

Filthy city centre pub foots £7,700 bill

A city centre pub in Leeds will have to pay a £7,700 bill after being cautioned over filthy conditions found in its kitchens.

Mitchell’s and Butlers Retail Ltd, which operates the O’Neills public house on Great George Street, Leeds, has received formal cautions from Leeds City Council after admitting food hygiene offences.

During three separate visits during 2008, an Environmental Health Officer saw dirty conditions including finding deposits of grease, dirt and food debris stuck to the kitchen floor and wall surfaces.

An area in the kitchen where the floor and a wall adjoined was found to be damaged. The officer also found that grime within the kitchen had led to insects being present, with both adult and larvae being present. A microwave oven was found to have deposits of old food inside.

Mitchell’s & Butlers have accepted cautions for offences covering the three visits and paid Leeds City Council’s costs of £7,725.92.

Councillor Steve Smith, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for environmental health, said:
“The council has a duty to protect the thousands of people who use the city’s many bars, pubs and restaurants.
“We will not hesitate to take action against those premises where conditions are below what are expected.”

For media enquiries, please contact;
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3937

Legal first for Leeds with letting agent’s £5,000 fine over unlicensed house

A Leeds letting agent is facing a bill of more than £5,000 after failing to properly licence a shared student house – a legal first in the city.

Futura 2000 Ltd (trading as Apex Homes) of 11 The Crescent, Hyde Park, pleaded guilty to charges brought by Leeds City Council under the Housing Act 2004. It was fined £3,500, and was ordered to pay £1,500 in costs and £15 victim surcharge.

The company acted as managing agents for a shared student property in Kensington Terrace, Headingley.

The Housing Act 2004 introduced a legal requirement for shared houses and bedsits with more than four occupiers and over more than two storeys to be licensed by the council as House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). The Licence Conditions set standards for fire safety and for amenities.

It is the first time the council has successfully prosecuted a private landlord under the new rules.

The alleged offence relates to the managing by Apex Homes of a property that was a licensable House in Multiple Occupation, but where no application had been made. Delivering their verdict, the magistrates said that as an experienced company, Apex Homes should have known a licence was necessary.

In September 2008 the property was visited by an officer from Leeds City Council’s HMO Licensing Team. The officer believed the property to be a licensable HMO, but no licence application had been made to the council, although one was eventually received in April 2009.

Following the introduction of HMO Licensing in 2006, Leeds City Council widely publicised the new legal requirement amongst landlords and managing agents, and has since processed more than 2,600 applications for HMO Licences, which represents 18% of the total number for all the councils in England.

Councillor Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s Executive Board Member responsible for housing, said:
“Leeds has a huge private rented sector and ensuring all Houses in Multiple Occupancy are registered has been a mammoth task – we have dealt with 18% of all the applications in the whole country.
“I agree with the magistrate that, as an experienced company, they should have known better.
“Thousands of landlords have complied with the requirement to license their property and it would be unfair on them, as well as tenants, if we were not seen to take firm action against those who don’t follow the rules.
“This ruling should send a clear message to landlords that we will take legal action against those who have not applied.”

For media enquiries, please contact;
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3937