Rogue Birmingham landlord endangering lives successfully prosecuted
George Lindsay, 55, from Erdington, has been successfully prosecuted and ordered to pay close to £20,000 for breaching housing regulations.
The rogue landlord pleaded guilty for failing to obtain a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence and to 13 breaches of HMO Management Regulations and has been ordered to pay a fine of £19,970.
When issuing the sentence, the district judge commented that Scrooge was a philanthropist compared to Mr Lindsay and confirmed that he would have sent him to prison if his sentencing powers would have allowed him to do so. The district judge also requested that HMRC reviews his financial records.
The council worked with the Police to initially gain access to one of the three properties Mr Lindsay owns. However, when Birmingham City Council Officers inspected the house, they were so concerned about the lack of fire precautions they contacted West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS).
Almost all of the smoke detectors were missing from the house, putting the lives of the 10 people - including four children - who lived there in danger. WMFS oversaw the immediate installation of a working fire alarm system.
Other offences included a failure to license one of his properties, scorched electrical fittings, missing and inadequate fire doors, mattresses blocking fire escape routes and a failure to provide gas and electrical test certificates.
Leaks from a roof into a bedroom occupied by an adult and three children were found at another property while, another tenant had no kitchen facilities and was being forced instead to use a halogen heater placed on its side. Officers also found a missing shower head which meant that at least 9 people had to share one bathroom.
Robert James, acting director for neighbourhoods at Birmingham City Council 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.”
If you would like to report a property you suspect to have breached HMO standards, please call, 0121 303 4009.
The three properties for which Mr Lindsay was prosecuted are all in Erdington.
Landlords and letting or managing agents both have a legal duty to keep the people who rent their property safe from fire, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. WMFS and Birmingham City Council work closely together to ensure this is achieved.
Birmingham City Council previously prosecuted George Lindsay in February 2010 for failure to license two of these properties (884 Chester Road & 81 Minstead Rd).
Since his prosecution in 2010, Birmingham City Council Officers have repeatedly tried to persuade Mr Lindsay to license his property, offering him advice and guidance. He has wilfully ignored this and has not applied for a license. Mr Lindsay is an experienced landlord of 20 years, with four rented properties.
Full list of offences:
- Failure to obtain an HMO license
- Multiple missing smoke detectors
- Missing and inadequate fire doors
- Scorched electrical light fittings
- Mattresses, a fridge freezer and washing machines located in escape routes which are meant to be kept clear of any items
- Multiple areas of missing ceiling plaster within all three properties
- Leaks from a roof into a bedroom occupied by an adult and three children
- Failure to provide gas and electrical test certificates for his properties within 7 days and over eight months later they have not been supplied
- A communal bath was taped up presumably to stop a leak from it
- One tenant had no kitchen facilities and was cooking on a halogen heater placed on its side
- Missing head to a communal shower meaning that at least 9 people were sharing one shower
- Switch on consumer unit taped over
- Rubbish in the front and rear gardens
- Blocked drains
For additional information on HMO properties in Birmingham and their licensing, please visit: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/20175/private_housing/476/houses_in_multiple_occupation_hmo