A shared house landlord who was wrongly fined £31,500 by a council over alleged fire safety breaches putting tenants at risk has won a legal challenge to reduce the penalty to just £3,300.

Tan Sandhu appealed the penalties to the First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber claiming the fines imposed by Coventry City Council were excessive and did not follow the council’s own policy or government guidelines.

The house in multiple occupation in Walsall Road, Coventry, was inspected as part of a campaign to improve a neighbourhood in the city.

Phil Turtle, a compliance consultant with Landlord Licensing and Defence Ltd, who represented Mr Sandhu at the hearing, said, “While we cannot condone a landlord not knowing and or failing to comply with the HMO management regulations, this case is a clear example of a council mis-applying the legislation for their own purposes.

“Coventry City Council had originally tried to extract £31,499 from this landlord when in fact, as the tribunal determined, they were only entitled to fine the landlord a total of £3,300. An attempted over-charge of £28,199.”

Worse than Scrooge

Landlord George Lindsay was fined £19,970 after admitting a string of health and safety offences at Birmingham Crown Court involving renting out a shared house in the city.

A district judge told Lindsay that he was ‘worse than Scrooge’ for putting the lives of 10 tenants, including four children, in danger by failing to provide adequate fire safety equipment in the property.

The judge also stated that he would have jailed the landlord if he had the power.

Changed locks

Magistrates found landlord Steve Chapman guilty of harassing a tenant after he changed the lock on the front door of a rented home ‘to check that it was tidy’.

Chapman was fined £950 and ordered to pay costs of £1,025 at North Staffordshire Justice Centre.

The court heard the tenant feared he could not return to his home if he went out.