Just a Criminal

by Property 118

9:26 AM, 10th December 2019
About 10 months ago

Just a Criminal

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Just a Criminal

George Lindsay aged 55 from Erdington was successfully prosecuted by Birmingham city council and sentenced to pay a fine of £19,970 and only got away without jail time, because the guidelines did not permit the judge the option.

Lindsay was found guilty of failing to obtain an HMO licence and 13 infringements of HMO regulations that included:

– Endangering 10 people including 4 children with missing smoke alarms

– Missing and inadequate fire doors

– Mattresses blocking fire escape routes

– Scorched electrical fittings

– No gas and electrical test certificates

– No kitchen facilities for a tenant

– Roof leaks into a bedroom

– Missing shower head forcing 9 people to share a bathroom

The Council had to contact the local fire service and immediately make the property safe. What is worse is that Lindsay had 4 properties and had been renting for 20 years under who knows what conditions.

Property118 would certainly not want to call him a Landlord! These are exactly the sort of criminals other councils need to be chasing rather than hounding out brilliant landlords that provide much needed housing with onerous regulations, paperwork and costs .

Acting director for neighbourhoods at Birmingham City Council, Robert James, said, “In the middle of a national housing crisis it’s absolutely disgraceful that landlords, like Mr Lindsay, are taking advantage of people in this unscrupulous way. When the council is made aware of properties like these, we’ll do all that we can to pursue rogue landlords and to ensure that tenants are kept safe and their rights to decent housing are upheld.

“HMO properties can be a great means to providing affordable housing and we’ll continue to work closely with the landlords who provide a fantastic service. However, we must ensure that standards are upheld so that citizens in Birmingham get the housing which they deserve.”


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Comments

Mark Alexander

9:44 AM, 10th December 2019
About 10 months ago

Let's not be too quick to judge here, because we know nothing about this case other than what has been reported elsewhere.

A very good landlord based in Colchester had 11 very similar criminal convictions from a local Council, all of which were quashed.

Who put the mattresses in the exit routes?

Who removed the smoke detectors?

Were any of the faults reported to the landlord and what evidence is there of this?

Who removed the shower heads in the other bathrooms?

Was the landlord aware the property was occupied by so many people?

I could go on, but hopefully you will see my point here.

If he is, indeed guilty, then I agree with all the comments in the main article. However, maybe there will now be an appeal?

Luke P

10:53 AM, 10th December 2019
About 10 months ago

Whilst I do not, in any way, condone such conditions or behaviour by a landlord and I'd rather people like that be out of the industry, but sentences need to be kept in proportion to the 'crime'. No gas safety I would say is very much similar to having no MOT certificate...it *could* pose a massive threat IF there was a fault that developed into a major problem (and if it does, rightly, the sentences increase), but we would not be calling for £20k fines and prison time for no MOT and similar offences.

I commented on a similar article elsewhere yesterday (https://propertyindustryeye.com/estate-agent-owner-of-hmo-has-fine-for-non-compliance-cut-by-over-28000/) where there were four relatively minor offences:

1). Insecure rear door.
2). No fire blanket or kitchen smoke detector (removed, so was originally there).
3). Need for keys to exit individual rooms.
4). No display of the contact details of the property manager.
The original penalty was over £31,000! Straight up speeding puts many innocent people at risk, but we don't have anything like these levels of fines for that.
We need to keep perspective.

Chris @ Possession Friend

12:12 PM, 10th December 2019
About 10 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Luke P at 10/12/2019 - 10:53
Well said Luke, very balanced and proportionate view ( which sadly isn't taken in regard to PRS )

Ian Narbeth

13:50 PM, 10th December 2019
About 10 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 10/12/2019 - 10:41From the Birmingham Mail story it appears "the Council said Lindsay had previously been prosecuted in February 2010 for failure to license two of the properties. The authority said since his prosecution in 2010, Birmingham City Council Officers have repeatedly tried to persuade Lindsay to license his property, offering him advice and guidance and said ‘he has wilfully ignored this and has not applied for a licence".
Lindsay deserved to be punished. I do wonder whose rubbish in the disgusting photo was piled up in the back garden. I guess it wasn't Lindsay's or the story would have said so. Might it have belonged to the tenants with children?

Luke P

14:21 PM, 10th December 2019
About 10 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 10/12/2019 - 13:50
Does it warrant jail time, as the article suggested, though?

Neil Patterson

15:43 PM, 10th December 2019
About 10 months ago

The press keep conflating by using the word landlord.

Compared to P118 landlords he is no more a landlord than a bank robber could be called a customer. Assuming the judge was correct in his decision

Luke P

16:26 PM, 10th December 2019
About 10 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 10/12/2019 - 15:43
He IS a landlord. A bad landlord. Possibly a criminal landlord. But that doesn't allow free-reign for wild sentences.

We would all like to eliminate the possibility of death/injury on the roads due to speeding and perhaps jailing or fining offenders tens of thousands might help, but is it proportionate in relation to the offence? No. Absolutely not.

Why are landlords, even terrible ones, viewed so very differently to other types of offenders?

That is the start of a slippery slope.

In the Coventry case I referenced, £2,100 was just for the missing building manager's details in the HMO...hardly a £2k+ offence when failing to file a tax return or not having a TV Licence or driving with no insurance are either worse of similar in their relatively benign nature do not attract equivalent penalties.

I understand what they're trying to achieve...harsh penalties in an attempt at absolute compliance, but then why not take that view with all offences? Why not just have life imprisonment for literally any offence? Because we have a system of proportionality, is why. Except because LLs are not as numerous as, say, motorists, we are a group that can be abused by the system, which, as a decent society with checks and balances, is wrong. Regardless of this terrible LL's 'crimes'.

Neil Patterson

16:48 PM, 10th December 2019
About 10 months ago

I couldn't agree more Luke with disproportionate fines for landords for regulatory and paperwork breaches.

Chris @ Possession Friend

18:28 PM, 10th December 2019
About 10 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 10/12/2019 - 16:48
An example in Letting Agent Today, was Coventry Council issuing a £31 k Fixed Penalty for 4 HMO breaches, which the First Tier tribunal castigated them for and reduced it by 90% to £3 k

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