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Wycombe landlord fined over £15,000 for an unsafe rented house

25 April 2012

Wycombe District Council has won a case that they brought against local landlord Mr Amarjit Jutla of Disraeli Crescent, High Wycombe. Mr Jutla appeared in Slough Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to 13 charges in connection with a multiple occupancy property in West Wycombe Road, High Wycombe, which he rented out to tenants.

When officers from Wycombe District Council's Environmental Health Team visited the property it was found to be in a poor condition. The property was without adequate heating or hot water, a ceiling had collapsed in the bathroom revealing long term fungal growth, plaster to the lounge walls were cracked, perished, defective and exposing an unsafe electrical socket. Mr Jutla had failed to maintain the common parts of the house in multiple occupation (HMO) in a good and decorative repair. Mr Jutla had failed to provide gas safety and electrical safety certificates when requested.

The Council deemed the property uninhabitable. The tenant left and the family living at the house were put into temporary accommodation and have subsequently been re-housed by WDC.

The 13 charges and fines imposed were:

  1. Failing to clearly display his name, address and telephone in a prominent position in the HMO. Fined £500
  2. Failed to ensure that notices were displayed in a position to be clearly visible to occupiers indicating the location of means of escape from fire. Fined £1000
  3. Failed to ensure every fixed electrical installation was inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding five years, in particular to the electrical installation there were defects of exposed electric sockets. Fined £1500
  4. Failed to supply an electrical safety certificate. Fined £500
  5. Failed to supply a gas safe certificate. Fined £500
  6. Failed to maintain the common parts of the HMO in a good and decorative repair, namely the ceiling in the room located beyond the kitchen and used for storage had condensation stains. Fined £1000
  7. Failed to maintain the common parts of the HMO in a safe and working condition namely there was no ceiling in the ground floor bathroom and no hot water. Fined £2000
  8. Failed to maintain the common parts of the HMO in a good and decorative repair namely ceiling joists in the ground floor bathroom were very damp with grown fungi and, the plaster to the walls was cracked, perished and defective. Fined £1000
  9. Failed to maintain the common parts of the HMO in a good and decorative repair namely the shower tray in the shower room on the first floor was cracked and sealant very poor. Fined £750
  10. Failed to ensure fixtures, fittings or appliances used in common by two or more households within the HMO were maintained in good and safe repair and in clean working order, in particular, no central heating system in the property and the Sadia water heater in the kitchen was unreliable and did not always produce sufficient hot water. Fined £2000
  11. Failed to ensure, in relation to each part of the HMO that was used as living accommodation, that the internal structure was maintained in good repair, in particular the lounge walls were damp. Fined £1000
  12. Failed to ensure, in relation to each part of the HMO that was used as living accommodation, that any fixtures, fittings or appliances within the property were maintained in good repair and in clean working order, in particular the lounge carpet was damp with a damp meter showing high levels of moisture and the plaster to the lounge walls was cracked, perished, defective and exposing unsafe electrical socket. Fined £1500
  13. Failed to comply with the requirements of a notice served within 14 days. Fined £500

As a result, the District Judge at Slough Magistrates' Court imposed fines totalling £13,750 and ordered Mr Jutla to pay costs of £2,000 and a victim surcharge of £15.

Officers from Wycombe District Council's Environmental Health Team made numerous separate checks at the property, over several months and on each occasion found that Mr Jutla was not complying fully with the law relating to renting houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). They issued the landlord with verbal and written warnings before initiating the legal enforcement proceedings which resulted in the fines imposed by the court.

In passing sentence, the judge commented that as a landlord, Mr Jutla had clearly failed in his legal and moral duty to ensure that the property he rented out to tenants was not a risk to their health and safety.

Councillor David Carroll, Cabinet Member for Homes and Housing at Wycombe District Council said: "In most cases, local landlords ensure that the properties they rent out meet the right standards for safety and comfort, but sadly there are irresponsible landlords who take no remedial action and tenants are living in conditions which are not only unsafe, but which put them at risk as a result. In these cases, we can and do prosecute."