13/01/2010

On the Naughty Step

And what a thoroughly deserving new entrant to the roll we have in Anthony Carroll, apparently known as ‘Uncle Tony’, although ‘Uncle’ to whom and whether any Godfather style references were intended is not at all clear.

naughty stepMr Carroll is a Nottingham based landlord, apparently with quite a few properties, including student lets. Unfortunately, Mr Carroll chose to ignore quite a few of the basic requirements of being a landlord, little things like maintaining properties, obtaining certificates of electrical safety, keeping fire safety standards and, as as the piece de resistance, not illegally evicting his tenants. And of course obtaining those pesky HMO licences.

In a prosecution, apparently brought by Nottingham Council, over two properties let to students, the Court heard that the properties were without the required licence. The Court was also told about black mould on walls, no certificate of inspection for the electrical fittings, loose carpets on the stairs, a damaged sash window and hole in a floorboard. There was also a mouse infestation Two students were illegally evicted when Uncle Tony changed the locks, stating that they would not be let back in until rent due from another three students, who had left the property, was paid. It was a joint tenancy and £1,500 was owing. Uncle Tony continued to refuse to let them back in when the University contacted him. Eventually the police were called and helped the students recover their property (but not, of course, regain access to the property, that would be altogether too much to ask).

Another property, also occupied by students, had no licence and a washing machine and freezer in the hallway blocking a stairwell that served as a fire escape. A smoke alarm had been disconnected and electric wiring had not been tested within the last five years.

Uncle Tony pleaded guilty to 17 charges. He was fined £14,700 and had £37,500 in rent payments confiscated for the period the properties were unlicensed. He was ordered to pay costs of £10,000. For the illegal eviction he was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for a year, and probation.

Uncle Tony’s mitigation, as put to the Court, was that he ran the business on his own and had literacy problems. Literacy problems clearly extend to not being able to see disrepair. Oh and he had spent £15,000 on work to the properties subsequently. Quite how having done the work required to avoid further prosecution is mitigation escapes me, but then I am but a civil lawyer. Speaking of which, is there a civil claim underway? Should be.

So, for the sake of something like £16,500 and some HMO licence fees, Mr Carroll is down £61,500 and has a friendly probation officer to visit. A poster boy (at 66) for the private rental sector. And well done Nottingham Council, if it was you prosecuting.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

2 Comments

  1. Penny

    Oh, this story made my day, before I thought about the poor tenants. Why do landlords routinely mistreat students – is it because their occupancy is finite and they will leave before complaints are upheld? Good for you Nottingham Council – if it was you.

    Reply
    • Francis Davey

      And why do the police not routinely arrest the landlords unlawfully evicting them? I know here on NL we sound rather like broken records on this point, but its a serious point.

      Reply

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