Landlord Loses Appeal Over Unsafe House

A Portsmouth landlord who was fined for letting an unsafe house has failed in an appeal against the verdict.

JL Homes Ltd of Victoria Road South, Southsea was told by magistrates last October to pay almost £12,000, after ignoring council orders to stop letting an unsafe student house. 

Portsmouth City Council had prosecuted the company after complaints from students renting the house, in St James’s Street, Portsea. 

An inspection found: 

• one bedroom was too small to be used as sleeping accommodation 

• three bedsit rooms were too small to be used for sleeping and cooking 

• the cooking facilities were sub-standard 

• the three bedsits and the cooking facilities could only be reached by an outside metal staircase 

The company denied failing to comply with two housing prohibition orders and failing to provide the council with a copy of the tenancy agreement. 

But it was found guilty on all three counts, with a fine of £3,000 for each offence, and costs of almost £3,000. 

The company then appealed to Portsmouth Crown Court against one conviction for failing to comply with a housing prohibition order, the conviction for failing to provide the tenancy agreement, and all three fines. 

Now a judge has upheld the convictions and fines. Costs were increased to £4,500. 

Bruce Lomax , the council’s private sector housing manager, said: “We try to work with all landlords to resolve any issues concerning their properties, but on this occasion JL Homes didn’t co-operate and put students at risk. We had no other option but to prosecute them, and then defend against the appeal.” 

Cllr Steven Wylie, the council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and a Portsea councillor, said: “This case sends out a very strong message to rogue landlords who don’t maintain their properties properly and who leave tenants to put up with poor living conditions. We’ll continue to take action against any landlord who puts tenants’ health at risk.”

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