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16 October 2012, 12:35 | Updated: 16 October 2012, 12:43
A city landlord has been ordered to pay £53,500 after being prosecuted successfully by Norwich City Council for putting his tenants at risk.
At Norwich Magistrates Court last Friday (12 October), Mr Joseph Howman, of Grosvenor Road, Norwich, pleaded guilty to nine offences under the Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 and did not meet the standards requited of a landlord in the Licence Conditions (part 2, Housing Act 2004).
In addition to being fined £5,000 plus £135 victim surcharge and £8,500 costs, Mr Howman was ordered to pay £40,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002. Norwich City Council is the first local authority in the country to use POCA against a landlord who failed to comply with license conditions.
The court heard how the house in Unthank Road, which was let as 10 bedsits with shared bathrooms and licensed in multiple occupation (HMO) under the Housing Act 2004, posed a number of hazards to its tenants.
An inspection by council officers in November 2010 found, among other problems, the rooms had no heating, the main bathroom had no hot water, the communal bathrooms were dirty, the fire doors were in poor condition with many not working, and there were electrical hazards, including hanging wires and defective lighting.
Ellen Spencer, private sector housing officer says: "Norwich City Council is committed to making sure private tenants live in safe houses which meet legal standards. In this case the landlord risked the safety of tenants by cutting corners and refusing to make improvements. We are pleased that the court recognised the serious nature of the offences and hope that this will send out a message that rogue landlords will not be tolerated in Norwich.”