Hillingdon HMO landlords ordered to pay £27,000 after renting hazardous property ‘not fit for human habitation’
Robin and Susan Kirstein, of Berkley Avenue, Greenford, were sentenced at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Friday 4 March, after each admitting a string of offences contravening the Housing Act and the Building Act.
The court heard the property on The Broadway failed to meet many basic safety requirements and was littered with hazards. Hillingdon Council had served notice on the pair to remedy the breaches however, they ignored warnings, despite visits from council inspectors.
The state of the building was so bad, a judge described it as ‘not fit for human habitation’.
Robin Kirstein had admitted 13 offences at a hearing on 13 April 2021, including poor management of the property, lack of adequate waste facilities, lack of fire precautions and failure to provide information.
Susan Kirstein admitted 17 offences on 22 July 2021, including, poor management of the property, lack of adequate waste facilities, lack of fire precautions, failure to provide information, failure to carry out works to the property and failure to carry out drainage works to ensure sanitary conditions.
The court heard the property first came to the attention of the council following an inspection on 14 July 2020. A leaking soil pipe was causing raw sewage to pool outside the front of the home, which in turn was causing outbreaks of flies inside the property and maggots outside the front door.
The property is a four-storey building with a shop on the ground floor and used as a house in multiple occupation (HMO). The upper floors contained three flats, one of those split across the upper two floors.
The court was told the inspection revealed some areas of the building had no lighting, no heating, several of the doors had no door handles, there were unopenable windows, mould, stairs with no handrails and broken smoke alarms.
A follow-up inspection in November 2020 showed the situation has not changed, and in fact had possibly worsened. A further inspection on 10 March 2021 revealed that improvement notices served by the council requiring the multitude of hazards to be fixed, had not been complied with, despite having a deadline of 1 January 2021.
Council officers had tried to engage with the landlords over several visits to the property. The landlords were asked to provide copies of their lease, tenancy agreements and details of the management arrangements for the property. Further requests were also made for gas and electrical certificates. The court heard the Kirsteins refused to provide this information.
At the sentencing hearing, District Judge Wright described the pair as ‘in way over their heads’ and having ‘turned a blind eye to their responsibilities’, in part due to their poor financial management. In reference to the leaking sewage, DJ Wright added: “You had a responsibility not to leave tenants in the property that wasn’t fit for human habitation.”
The pair were fined £17,000 and ordered to pay Hillingdon Council’s prosecution costs of over £10,000.
Cllr Eddie Lavery, Hillingdon Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Housing and Regeneration, said:
“This couple showed scant regard for the welfare of tenants who should quite rightly have an expectation of living somewhere that meets decent standards.
“This property not only fell well below that mark but was riddled with hazards and dangers that could have proved disastrous.
“This sentencing serves as a warning to any rogue landlords that we’ll take tough measures to ensure homes in our borough are safe and suitable for the tenants.“
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