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18 April 2017

Inadequate Heating Leads to Fines for Two Private Landlords in Banstead, Surrey

As a landlord, if you find yourself in the position of being issued an official notice from the council, in which it is stated that the heating system provided in your rental property is sub-par and in dire need of replacing/upgrading, it’s a good idea to get such necessary work seen to in good time. Sadly, in the case of private landlords John and Deborah-Anne Solomi, these warnings were ignored, posing a risk to their tenant’s health and ultimately leading to a sizeable fine for the pair.

The property, situated on Garretts Lane in Banstead, Surrey, was first viewed by council officers following complaints made by the tenant. Upon inspection, the officers found that the ground floor flat had a number of issues, chief among them being the ineffective heating system, which was deemed to be dangerous to the tenant.

Councillor James Durrant, executive member for enforcement at Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, described the risk posed to the tenant’s health and safety as “significant”, and subsequently issued the notice stating that work was required on the property. The action then taken by Mr and Mrs Solomi to avoid making the necessary improvements is borderline abhorrent.

Councillor Durrant said of the matter, “The heating needed to be replaced to bring the flat up to an acceptable standard but Mr and Mrs Solomi did not do this, despite us issuing a notice requiring that they carry out the work.

“Instead Mr and Mrs Solomi evicted their tenant.”

So, rather than providing their tenant with a safe and lawfully maintained abode as demanded by the official notice, Mr and Mrs Solomi instead decided to oust them from their home.

Following a failure to appear in court to answer to the charges, the pair was convicted under the Housing Act 2004 at Guildford Magistrates' Court earlier this month. They have each been ordered to pay a fine of £3,000, as well as a victim surcharge of £170 and costs of £572, amounting to a total of £6,742.

Councillor Durrant commented on the court’s decision, “We are keen to support the borough's business community but we also have a responsibility to take action against businesses who flout the rules.

“We will take robust action against landlords who do not carry out their responsibilities to provide safe and healthy accommodation for their tenants.”

The pair’s conviction should serve as a warning to private landlords throughout the country: ensure that your properties are properly maintained and safe for those who call them home, lest you find yourself in a similar position to Mr and Mrs Solomi (although I like to think if such a case should arise, most would handle it a little better than they ultimately chose to).

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.