It’s both troubling and pleasing for me to note that since the beginning of the year legal cases taken by the Council have seen landlords and property companies fined in excess of £237,000.
Of course in an ideal world all landlords would meet their obligations to tenants and everything would be just so. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Amongst all the good, law-abiding landlords you will find some bad apples out there in the private rented sector: we certainly have and some tenants’ experiences were highlighted in a recent report into the sector by the Kensington and Chelsea Social Council.
Our officers spend a lot of time out inspecting properties and see all sorts of things in the course of their work. Sometimes where they see that standards are not being met they can deal with it and put things right for tenants by having a word with the landlord and advising on what needs to be done. Usually it ends well for both the landlord and the tenant.
But sometimes things are so bad, or even so dangerous, that advice is not good enough. Some landlords have properties that are plain dangerous or unhealthy for anyone to live in. Recently our officers saw a large flat subdivided into basically not much more than doss house-style cubicles. The tenants paid £800 a month for the privilege of living in cramped conditions lacking adequate fire safety equipment. Throw in an unsafe boiler and you can see why action had to be taken and in this case that action was immediate when officers served something called a Prohibition Order to prevent further use of the flat. I am glad to say when the case came to court the magistrates took an equally dim view of the conditions and handed down hefty fines.
Our specialist officers, based in Environmental Health, do their utmost to make sure no landlord gets away with poor practice. This year they have had some very good results in court which have seen landlords fined, in some cases very heavily, for disregarding their legal obligations.
We have prosecuted when we found properties with inadequate fire precautions such as faulty alarms, smoke detectors and a lack of fire doors. We have taken action over unsafe boilers and flues that posed a real threat to people living in the property.
In one case, after tenants escaped a property following a fire, we discovered that the flat had no fire doors or proper alarm system. This is completely unacceptable.
Tenants should not have to put up with such poor conditions. And if we have anything to do with it they won’t. If you are living in private-rented accommodation in Kensington and Chelsea and are worried or concerned about conditions then get in touch with our Environmental Health department 020 7361 3002 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a landlord and are in anyway unsure of your legal duties regarding fire safety in your property then go to the webpage for environmental and health and safety matters – Living in healthy homes
It’s very important that we continue to work hard to make sure bad landlords are brought to book. We need to do this on behalf of tenants, sometimes quite vulnerable people who cannot always fight their own corner. I also want us to do it because it’s not right that, when so many landlords work hard to do the right thing a few think they can make money while cutting corners