July 2, 2024 9:51 am

Insert Lead Generation
Nikka Sulton

A landlord has been fined £24,000 for failing to comply with an Improvement Notice. Lakhbir Singh Rakhra was reported to the council’s housing regulation team by his tenant in 2021. The tenant, a single parent of four children, had endured living without heating in her Rochford Gardens property since 2016. Despite numerous complaints to the landlord about the lack of heating and other safety hazards in the home, Rakhra failed to take any corrective action, leading to the involvement of local authorities.

The case highlights the severe consequences landlords can face for neglecting their responsibilities. The tenant’s complaints about the unsafe living conditions were repeatedly ignored, prompting her to seek assistance from the council. This intervention ultimately resulted in the substantial fine against Rakhra for his prolonged non-compliance. The local council’s action underscores the importance of adhering to housing regulations and ensuring that properties meet basic living standards.

Following an inspection, the council requested that landlord Lakhbir Singh Rakhra undertake essential repairs in his property, which had been reported for lacking heating. Despite the council’s request and numerous complaints from the tenant, a single parent of four children, Rakhra did not complete the necessary work. In May 2022, the council escalated the matter by issuing an Improvement Notice. This notice required Rakhra to complete the repairs and install appropriate heating by July 2022 or face significant fines.

Rakhra continued to ignore the requirements, failing to comply with the Improvement Notice. Consequently, the council imposed a substantial fine of £25,000 in February 2023, citing the failure as an offence under the Housing Act 2004. Although the heating system was eventually installed in October 2022, the long delay and failure to meet the set deadline led to the hefty financial penalty. This case underscores the critical importance of landlords adhering to housing regulations to ensure tenants live in safe and habitable conditions.

The landlord appealed against the financial penalty to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), asserting that his tenant had obstructed the completion of the necessary repair works. He claimed that attempts to access the property for repairs were repeatedly hindered by the tenant’s refusal to cooperate. Despite multiple notices and requests, he argued that the tenant’s actions had prevented him from addressing the hazards and making the required improvements in a timely manner.

During a hearing held in March of this year, the tenant provided testimony in support of the council’s case, countering the landlord’s claims of obstruction. She detailed her experiences, explaining that she had consistently allowed access for repairs but had faced significant delays and a lack of follow-through on the landlord’s part. Her evidence highlighted the persistent issues within the property and the prolonged period without proper heating, which severely impacted her family’s living conditions.

The Tribunal, considering all evidence presented, reached a decision on 17 June, determining that Lakhbir Singh Rakhra had indeed committed an offence by failing to comply with the Improvement Notice. The Tribunal found the tenant’s testimony credible and consistent with the council’s records, which indicated a clear pattern of non-compliance by the landlord. This decision upheld the financial penalty imposed on Rakhra, with a slight adjustment to account for general wear and tear, reducing the penalty by £1,000.

The Tribunal emphasized the gravity of the offence, noting that the landlord’s failure to carry out essential repairs was not only a breach of the notice but also a neglect of his fundamental responsibilities as a landlord. They stated: “It is a substantial penalty, but the offence was serious. The Appellant was failing to comply with essential repairs which he ought to have carried out anyway before he was served with the notice. He then failed to comply with the notice itself.” This commentary underscored the Tribunal’s stance on the importance of adhering to housing regulations to ensure the safety and well-being of tenants.

Ultimately, the ruling reaffirmed the need for landlords to take their obligations seriously and to respond promptly to any repair requirements, especially those mandated by official notices. The decision serves as a reminder of the legal and ethical responsibilities that come with property management, highlighting that landlords must prioritize the maintenance of their properties to provide a safe and habitable environment for their tenants.

“If the landlord had genuinely faced obstruction from his tenant, he could have sought an injunction through the County Court. His failure to do so indicates that there likely wasn’t a significant issue. As an experienced landlord, he should have known better.”

A council spokesperson commented, “This case should not have needed to go to tribunal. The landlord should have addressed his tenant’s concerns and resolved the identified issues. We hope this serves as a warning to other landlords to take their responsibilities seriously and ensure their tenants have a safe and functional home.”


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