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Dean Dunkley, who ran the four-storey AJ’s bar and was prosecuted in May 2017 after failing to carry out repairs despite repeated warnings following a council inspection that uncovered a catalogue of safety failings.
He had been fined almost £5,000 in April 2016, after pleading guilty to 25 offences under the Housing Act 2004, and a further inspection took place in August 2016. At the time of that inspection, the property’s ten bedrooms were occupied by 15 tenants, from whom Mr Dunkley was collecting an estimated rent of £820 a week.
The housing enforcement officer discovered a host of safety issues including faulty fire doors, broken electric sockets and emergency lighting, a fridge obstructing an emergency exit and the lack of fire detection in a communal kitchen. When the officer contacted Mr Dunkley to ask who had responsibility for managing the property, he replied: ‘It’s your job to find out.’ He also failed to produce gas and electricity safety certificates, and a fire detection and alarm certificate for the property.
Mr Dunkley was found guilty of all 19 charges and fined a total of £39,000, including £8,000 in fines for operating a house in multiple occupation (HMO) without a licence, and also had to pay costs of around £2,400. He was issued with a Criminal Behaviour Order banning him from being involved in letting or managing a residential property for rent in the borough until May 2019. In addition, he must secure permission from the council before appointing an agent to let or manage a residential property on his behalf.
Sean Lawson, head of environment and public realm, commented: ‘We’re happy to work with landlords to explain the legislation surrounding HMOs and offer advice on work which needs to be carried out in order for a property to meet safety standards. But our priority has to be the safety of tenants and, when a landlord shows complete contempt for the law, we have no hesitation in taking the case to court.
‘The severity of the fines imposed by magistrates in this case, together with the issuing of a Criminal Behaviour Order, shows that no landlord can afford to cut corners when it comes to ensuring the safety of tenants.’ Mr Dunkely should have had a fire risk assessment in place this would of prevented all the above unnecessary actions and fines. A Fire risk assessment carried out by a third party accredited Fire risk assessor such as Corinium is recommended to ensure compliance with the Fire safety order. This applies buildings such as Flats, houses in multiple occupation, shared house, hotels and bed and breakfasts in Birmingham, Bristol and Worcester.