Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Landlord facing £14,000 bill over safety lapses and overcrowding in rented houses

A Leeds landlord who failed to properly take care of, and even overcrowded, some of his properties has been fined in court.

James Warner of Lingwood, Ling Lane, Scarcroft, was fined £8,000 after pleading guilty at Leeds Magistrates Court to thirteen separate charges and was ordered to pay £6,000 in costs.

Mr Warner is landlord of more 200 properties in Leeds, more than 40 of which are licensed Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs).

The charges related to five licensed properties in Headingley where, in nearly all cases, Mr Warner had failed to provide Leeds City Council with gas safety and electrical installation certificates within seven days. When the certificates were eventually provided – in some instances these took up to 56 days to arrive – nearly all of them were dated after the inspection was undertaken by the council.

Properties were also overcrowded, Mr Warner allowing more people to live there than were allowed under the terms of his licence: 23 Winston Gardens was licensed for six people but an inspection found it was occupied by nine. Likewise, 1 Archery Terrace was licensed for six but housed seven.

It is vitally important that landlords have valid up to date certificates for HMOs to ensure they are safe for tenants. Failure to test and service gas appliances every year can lead to serious problems, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Unsafe electrical installations can also lead to fires while the failure to fit fire doors exposed tenants to an increased risk of a fire spreading unchecked throughout the property.

Properties are licensed for a specific number of people to ensure that they have adequate facilities for everyone occupying them, and to prevent the properties becoming overcrowded.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for housing, said:
“These licenses exist for a very important reason – to protect tenants. The majority of landlords take their responsibilities seriously but when inspections reveal those who are failing to do so, we will take action against them.
“I hope this sends out a very clear message, particularly at this time of year when many new students are moving into rented properties for the first time, that if there are problems with your accommodation the council is there to help.”

Mandatory licensing of certain HMOs, those comprised of three or more storeys and which are occupied by five or more people, was introduced by the Housing Act 2004. It came in to force in 2006 and so far around 2,800 licences have been issued by the council for properties across the city. The licences contain conditions relating to matters including fire safety, heating and kitchen and bathroom facilities. They also restrict the occupancy level of a property. Not complying with any licence condition is liable on conviction to a fine.

The separate offences involved:
9a Lucas Street

• failed to supply electrical and gas appliance test certificates within seven days

1 Archery Terrace
• failed to supply an electrical installation inspection certificate within seven days
• knowingly allowed seven people to occupy the house, more than was allowed under the licence

21 Mayville Street
• failed to fit a fire door to the bottom of the ground to the first floor staircase
• failed to supply a gas appliance certificate within seven days
• failed to supply an electrical installation inspection certificate within seven days

23 Winston Gardens
• Allowed nine people to occupy the premises, more than was allowed under the licence
• failed to fit a fire door the ground floor kitchen
• failed to supply an gas appliance test certificate within seven days
• failed to supply an electrical installation inspection within seven days

15 Grimthorpe Place
• Failed to fit a door to the bottom of the ground to first floor staircase
• Failed to provide an electrical installation inspection certificate within seven days

For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 224 3937
e-mail: michael.molcher@leeds.gov.uk

Little London locals to find out more about the new Arena

Residents of Little London are being invited to find out more about the new Leeds Arena project this Wednesday.

Little London is the closest neighbourhood to the site on Claypit lane, so Leeds City Council wants to keep residents fully up to date with the progress of the project.

The forum will take place on Wednesday 22 September at the Little London Community Centre at 7pm.

Officers from the Leeds Arena project will talk about the newly unveiled design and local employment opportunities that the arena could offer. There will also be a chance for residents to have their say on how services in the area could improve for a new Neighbourhood Improvement Plan.

The local neighbourhood policing team will also be attending and encouraging residents to set up neighbourhood watch schemes in their areas.

For more information about the arena visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/arena

For further information, or to contribute your views, contact the area management team on 0113 336 7871.


For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk