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HMO landlord fined for 32 offences at Wolverhampton flats

A landlord has been fined nearly £34,000 after unsafe flats put tenants at risk.

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The property in Merridale Lane

Harbhajan Singh Dhami admitted failing to put right 32 housing offences at a HMO (house in multiple occupation) in Merridale Lane, Wolverhampton.

Fire hazards, electrical issues, damp and a large pile of waste were all found at the property when council inspectors visited in June.

That inspection followed confirmation that no approval had been sought for the conversion of the property to flats, therefore confirming it was a HMO and should be regulated under the HMO regulations.

One of the walls was separating from the structure

The property consisted of two sets of flats - 11 flats in total of which seven were being lived in.

Dhami - of Ednam Road, Wolverhampton - and his company Dhami Accommodation Ltd, received fines, charges and costs totalling £33,995, at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court.

District Judge Murray said: "Mr Dhami was a good landlord, with the exception of this property, where the issues of disrepair go back longer than the summons period.

"Mr Dhami blamed the tenants for the damage to the property but accepted that the tenants in the property were vulnerable and therefore the duty of care that he owed to his tenants was much greater.

The property was a 'huge fire risk' according to the judge

"From the company accounts provided to the court it was clear that the company had made a substantial profit and the judge had to consider the totality of the offending.

"He said that while Mr Dhami would be given credit for his guilty plea he would be sentenced on the high risk involved.

"It was clear that the property was a high fire risk and that candles were being used at the property which also had loose wiring.

"The fact that one of the walls was separating from the structure leaving a gap, together with the blocked means of escape, missing banisters, an inoperative fire alarm system and disconnected smoke detectors created a risk of smoke penetration and injury in the event of a fire.

Seven out of 11 flats were being lived in when inspectors visited

"Apart from the fire risk the damp throughout the property posed a risk to health.

"There had been a lack of compliance from Mr Dhami when council officers had required him to correct these problems and a lack of response when he was given the opportunity to do so."

Rubbish had piled up at the back of the HMO

Councillor Peter Bilson, deputy leader and cabinet member for city assets and housing, said: “We are determined to bring to task landlords who are not complying with housing laws and building regulations.

“Our residents’ health and wellbeing is of paramount importance to us and this case should act as a lesson to all landlords in the private sector.

“Thankfully, the majority of landlords in Wolverhampton abide by the rules and regulations and co-operate with the council.

“The council takes very seriously its commitment to monitoring the private housing sector and we will continue to do so to ensure tenants’ living standards are of the highest quality.”