If Nearly Legal has a mantra, it is this: “Everyone should have a housing lawyer with them at all times”. Or, at the bare minimum, a landlord and tenant lawyer. We had taken the reasonableness of this to be self-evident. However, it seems even this basic safety net might not be enough.
Meet Lewis Perry, landlord. In the fall of Mr Perry we shall not find schadenfreude. It is more of a tale of dishonour, so call it shouldnotfreude, a moment of pleasure in someone doing something they really should know better than to do. I mean really should know better
Mr Perry was fined £3,500 with £1120 costs and £120 victim surcharge in Birmingham Magistrates Court for failing to obtain an HMO licence and for breaching management regulations.
Sadly for NL’s mantra, Lewis Perry is also a barrister, of Southall Chambers, and one whose areas of practice include Landlord and Tenant, and regulatory and licensing work.
The issues found at Mr Perry’s unlicensed three storey HMO (which was subject to mandatory licensing) included a lack of “mains powered interlinked fire alarms or heat detectors in the kitchens. He also didn’t have any fire doors or emergency lighting to the escape route”.
Of course, it isn’t only Mr Perry’s wing of the profession that lets down NL’s rule of housing lawyers. We mustn’t forget the £10,000 fine and ‘kitchen in a garden shed’ of solicitor Suhasini Gurusinghe, who also announced her specialism in residential Landlord and Tenant law.
But Mr Perry could at least have consulted another colleague in chambers, who also specialises in Landlord & Tenant and “Housing and Property disputes”, while Ms Gurusinghe’s colleague in her firm is a conveyancer.
Still, NL’s rule needs amending. Everyone should have a housing lawyer with them at all times, including housing lawyers.