Rental Property in Ex ‘Drugs Den’ Leads to Fine for Landlord

A landlord has been issued an improvement notice after forcing his tenants to live in what used to be a ‘drugs den’.

63-year-old landlord Alan Bourne was handed the notice, along with fines of £1,600, after Stoke on Trent City Council received complaints about the state of the property in Corbridge.

The property in question was just one of 30 overseen by Mr Bourne. It was host to a plethora of issues, including smashed windows, exposed pipework and cables hanging from the ceiling. There were also tiles falling from the bathroom walls, and gaps between the window frames.

Mr Bourne’s solicitor informed the court that the property had seen a series of issues, with the previous tenants using it a as a ‘drugs den’.

Kirsty Messenger, prosecuting on behalf of the council, said: ‘The council received a complaint from the tenant. An inspection was carried out on September 2, 2015 and a letter was sent to Mr Bourne on September 8, 2015. It gave a completion date of October 20, 2015. The works were delayed and the case was referred to enforcement on June 20, 2016. An improvement notice was served on September 19, 2016. It had a completion date of December 6, 2016. By January 13, not all works specified in the schedules had been undertaken.’

However, Colin Drew, mitigating, countered: ‘The house in Moore Street was effectively being used as a drugs den in 2015. The place was a shambles. That tenant moved. A new tenant moved in but within a month his wife died. For a good deal of time the house was unoccupied. The house was burgled three times and more trashing was going on. Another tenant moved in that April. The defendant has now carried out the work. It was totally out of character. He has put right everything that has been asked of him. This has been a thorough and salutary lesson. It is just sad that after all this time he should find himself in the pickle he is in. He is kicking himself.’

Bourne pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a housing improvement notice. He was also ordered by magistrates to pay a £500 fine, £1,114.97 costs and a £50 surcharge.

Cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, Councillor Randy Conteh, said: ‘All private rented properties are required by law to meet certain standards under the Housing Act 2004, which also gives councils the power to take action against landlords whose properties are deemed dangerous to live in. Poor living conditions can not only harm the health and safety of occupants but also pose risks to neighbouring properties if electrical installation is not properly maintained for example. In this particular case we received a complaint from a tenant living in the property, carried out an inspection of the house and served an improvement notice to the landlord demanding work be carried out to bring it up to an acceptable standard. The work was not done and we were left with no other choice but to take the matter to court, with the safety of the public at the front of our mind.’