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Bridgend landlord fined for fire safety and licencing breaches

A Bridgend landlord who failed to take proper fire safety precautions has been left with a court bill of £5,250.

June 27th 2018

Peter Durston, of Newbridge Gardens, had also failed to correctly licence his rental property in Ewenny Road.Terraced Houses In November 2017, officers from Shared Regulatory Services – which covers Bridgend County Borough, Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff – carried out an inspection following suspicions that the property was being operated as a ‘House in Multiple Occupation’ (HMO) without the required licence being in place.

An HMO is a house or flat occupied by three or more tenants, who form two or more households and share amenities such as bathrooms or kitchens. Houses with three or more storeys and five or more tenants also need to have an HMO licence.

Officers confirmed that Mr Durston’s property was being occupied by five tenants so should have been licenced as an HMO. During the same inspection, a number of breaches were also identified which included failure to keep a fire escape route clear of obstruction and failure to ensure that the fire alarms were maintained in good working order.

Mr Durston was also found not to have taken reasonable measures required to protect the occupants in the event of an emergency. Fire doors and frames were ill fitting to two bedrooms, another bedroom had no fire door at all, the fire doors opening onto the escape route weren’t fitted with self-closing devices, while both the front and rear doors required a key to exit.

The windows to the ground floor rear bedroom, which was an inner room, did not have keys, so they couldn’t be used as escape windows in the event of a fire, and there were doors stacked against the escape windows in the rear yard which would have prevented them being used safely.

Officers also found that Mr Durston had failed to ensure that the common parts of the property were maintained to a good, clean and safe condition, or kept reasonably clear from obstruction. The bannister to the second floor landing was in disrepair with a section missing, while the living room was obstructed with a mattress, bedframe and other items. The first floor WC pan was cracked and the ground floor WC pan was missing the lid.

Further breaches included Mr Durston failing to ensure that outbuildings, yards and forecourts are kept in a clean condition, as both the central yard and rear garden had accumulations of rubbish including interior doors. 

Mr Durston pleaded guilty at Cardiff Magistrates Court on Friday 18 May to offences under the Housing Act 2004 in failing to obtain an HMO licence for the property, failing to provide documents required by a Section 235 Housing Act 2004 notice and in breaching the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Wales) Regulations 2006.  

Mr Durston was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £5,250 and is now no longer deemed a ‘fit and proper’ person so will need to appoint a manger to manage the property.  Rent Smart Wales have also been notified. 

Councillor Dhanisha Patel, Bridgend County Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations, and Chair of Shared Regulatory Services, said: “It is simply not acceptable for landlords of HMOs to flout regulations when it comes to the safety of their tenants. 

“Private sector housing plays an invaluable role to the housing stock in Bridgend. The majority of landlords abide by the rules that are set, but there are some that think they can operate above the law. It is our job to protect tenants' safety and we will take appropriate enforcement action if landlords fail to obtain a licence or manage their properties.”

Find out more about HMOs