A rogue landlord in Corby has been hit with a heavy fine and a Criminal Behaviour Order for a series of failings.
Leslie Winspear, 84, of Oakley Road, was found guilty at Northampton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (August 22) of failing to comply with an improvement notice by renting out 30 Oakley Road while in a state of disrepair.
He was fined £2,640, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120 and costs of £3,067.50.
This is the second property Winspear has been prosecuted over for renting out in poor and dangerous conditions. The Criminal Behaviour Order was secured against him to help prevent the recurrence of further issues taking place.
In 2015, Corby Council carried out a housing inspection at 40 Oakley Road, another property owned by Winspear.
During the inspection a number of serious hazards were identified, namely excess cold, electrical hazards and personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage issues.
The property suffered from a broken boiler so there was no fixed central heating or hot water throughout the property, and a foul water leak from the toilet had penetrated through the ceiling and into the living area causing a foul smell, damp and mould growth. A broken toilet cistern meant the toilet could not be flushed properly.
There were also exposed live electrical wires.
Due to all of these hazards, Corby Council’s officers determined the property unsafe for the tenants and served an Emergency Prohibition Order (EPO) on the landlord as well as rehousing the tenants.
The ground floor of the property was boarded up and the landlord was requested to carry out the necessary remedial works before the EPO could be removed.
On a routine inspection in 2016 it was discovered that, despite the property being subject to an EPO, there were tenants living in the property and the landlord was therefore in breach of the EPO.
The landlord, Winspear, was subsequently prosecuted for this serious breach by Corby Council.
In January 2017 Winspear, who pleaded guilty by post, was ordered by magistrates to pay a fine of £3,500, a victim surcharge of £350 and costs of £705.79 based on the statement of means form he had submitted.
Winspear considered the level of this fine was excessive and appealed against the decision.
His appeal was heard at Northampton Crown Court in June 2017.
On questioning Winspear about his income, the judge established that not only had Winspear failed to disclose his pension income and the significant rental income that he receives as a professional landlord to the magistrates, he had also failed to disclose his significant capital assets.
As a consequence the original sentence was set aside and Winspear was ordered to pay a fine of £12,500, a victim surcharge of £1,250 and costs of £1,702.86, totalling £15,452.86.
In total, Winspear’s prosecutions have cost him £21,280.
The Criminal Behaviour Order prevents him from:
- Letting or encouraging or assisting in the letting of any premises at any time while the premises are subject to a current Prohibition Notice issued pursuant to the provisions of the Housing Act 2004
- Letting or encouraging or assisting in the letting of any premises at any time after expiry of the relevant compliance period of an Improvement Notice issued pursuant to the provisions of the Housing Act 2004, where the requirements of such notice have been breached, in whole or in part
- From any time after August 22, 2017, engaging in the letting or management of any residential premises, whether by himself personally or by means of any corporate entity or by or in concert with (family) or any other persons, without having engaged an agent for such purpose
- Engaging the services of an agent for the purposes of letting or managing any residential premises at any time on or after notification by the relevant local authority, whether directly or by posting of the same at nay relevant premises, that the authority objects to the use of any such agent
- Refusing to answer or providing false or misleading information in relation to any statutory requisition for information issued by the relevant local authority concerning the provisions of the Housing Act 2004 or the Environmental Protection Act 1990
Corby Council’s environmental protection and private sector housing manager, Amy Plank, said: “We try and work with landlords at all times however landlords ultimately have a duty of care to their tenants’ health and safety which cannot simply be ignored.
“Winspear has repeatedly failed to ensure his rented properties are in an acceptable standard, despite being ordered to do so, and his actions could have led to his tenants becoming seriously ill or even being injured.
“We are glad that these successful prosecutions have been made, the Criminal Behaviour Order shows how seriously we take this kind of behaviour.
“We hope that this sends a strong message not only Mr Winspear but other landlords that may think it is ok to rent out properties that are unsafe.”