29 Nov 2019
The First Tier Property Tribunal has thrown out an appeal by Islington Landlord Iqbal Ahmad.
The property, a flat in Holloway Road London N7 was inspects as part of the licence application process and he accepted a licence with conditions pertaining to amongst other things not having adequate fire protection measures.
When the council re-inspected the property in April 2019 – twelve months later – they found that the landlord had not undertaken nor even planned to undertake the remedial works. This of course left the occupants at risk to life in the event of a fire.
In May 2019, the council issued a Final Notice and issued a Civil Financial Penalty ‘fine’ of £10,000
The landlord admitted that he had been at fault but nonetheless decided to appeal against the amount of the council’s fine and took the matter to the First Tier Property Tribunal.
The Council told the Tribunal that they took the view that the severity of the offence was determined to be serious and as such would fall within Band 3 of their Financial Penalty Charging Policy as a serious offence. For example, fire safely works had not been carried out nor indeed planned.
The council stated that there were actually five “ breaches” and that each breach could incur a penalty of £10,000 meaning that had they so decided, they could have adopted a figure of £50,000 rather than the £10,000 actually charged.
The Council said they however set the penalty of £10,000 in view of the nature and circumstances of the offence and its ramifications.
The Tribunal noted that this property had been licensed and that as such the Respondent knew that as an HMO it needed to be licensed and that he had complied with the requirement to licence.
The problem was he had not complied with the conditions of the licence and that this put occupants at risk especially as a result of the missing fire safety equipment.
Mr Iqbal confirmed to the Tribunal that he did not dispute the facts of the case but thought that the penalty should not be so high. He said in his evidence to the Tribunal, “I was always aware I was at fault.”
Summing up, the Tribunal said that Mr Iqbal had plenty of time to carry out the works required. Unfortunately, he chose a different solution. He decided to seek to revoke the HMO licence and to reduce the number of occupants in the property. This did not address the issues that were already in play. The works were necessary and would not go away because of his decision.
The Tribunal has decided the Financial Penalty in the sum of £10,000 is proportionate and that the appropriate penalty is therefore £10,000.00
The full Tribunal decision is here