Landlord ordered to pay £200,000 for poor management and unsafe conditions in two HMOs
A rogue landlord who put his tenants’ lives in danger with a dangerous cooker and rotten balcony has been fined more than £200,000.
Jeffrey Hu aka Weijie Hu, from Hallfield Estate and Bewel Property Ltd were fined after renting out two properties to tenants in a “pretty dreadful state”.
Council officers found that both properties were being operated as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and were poorly managed.
Hu and the company, of which he was once the sole director, were fined on September 7 at Westminster Magistrates Court in a joint prosecution with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
One of the properties, a three-storey, four-bedroom town house in Tenniel Close, Bayswater, was home to at least six young professionals during the council’s investigation.
During sentencing, District Judge Roscoe told Hu: “I wouldn’t stay there and I doubt you would.”
Dangerous electric cooked hob
At the Bayswater town house, council officers found a dangerous electric cooker hob which had exposed live electrical cable and a charred board underneath. The electric cable had been haphazardly joined together with tape, posing a risk of electrocution.
They also found unsafe and rotten bedroom balcony guarding which with further deterioration increased the risk of someone falling, at least 16ft from the second floor.
Bewel Property Ltd faced three charges of contravening the Housing Act 2004. The company was fined £150,000 for the dangerous hob, rotten balcony and exposed electrical cable. Meanwhile, Hu was individually charged and fined £5,000 for the unsafe balcony and live electric cable.
Bewel Property Ltd was also fined £50,000 for offences committed at a three-storey property in, Edenham Way, in Kensington and Chelsea, which was home to at least six tenants. The property lacked a safe means of escape in the event of a fire and a failure to supply gas and electrical certificates. Hu was also individually fined £2,000 for not submitting gas certificates.
All together, the company and Hu were also ordered to pay £6,900 in costs and £340 victim surcharge.
Cllr Antonia Cox, Westminster Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing, said:
“Mr Hu endangered his tenants’ lives through a complete disregard for their health and wellbeing. His tenants paid rent to live in what amounted to a death-trap.
“This case should be a warning to rogue landlords that Westminster City Council will ensure they pay heavily through their pockets for housing people in poor conditions.“
During sentencing, District Judge Roscoe said:
“This property was in a pretty dreadful state, I wouldn’t stay there and I doubt you would. You were the sole director at the time and when there were previous convictions against the company.
“These are very serious and the excuses that have been given and the explanation is not satisfactory. You were endangering other people’s lives by having conditions that weren’t satisfactory.
“This has gone on over a lengthy period and has been repeated with your knowledge as you were part of Bewel.“
Hu has been ordered to pay £4,500 within 7 days and the balance at £100 per week. In the event of non-payment, a collection order was made. Bewel Property must pay the full amount within 14 days, in the event of non-payment a collection order will be made.
In total, Jeffrey Hu and Bewel Property Ltd face £214,000 in fines and costs.
For more information about the HMO licensing and housing regulation requirements in Westminster visit www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/westminster.
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