Landlord prosecuted over ‘house of horrors’

Grove House, Copthorne SUS-180805-143759001
Grove House, Copthorne SUS-180805-143759001

A property described as ‘a house of horrors’ ended up costing a landlord more than £17,000 in fines and costs after he failed to maintain the building properly.

Mid Sussex District Council carried out an inspection of Grove House in Copthorne after receiving a number of complaints from tenants - and found it to be in such a state that the tenants’ health and safety was at risk.

Grove House, Copthorne SUS-180805-143809001

Grove House, Copthorne SUS-180805-143809001

A council spokesman said: “The property, which is a house of multiple occupation, was found to be in an extremely poor state of repair. 
“The issues were so serious that the council undertook immediate emergency repair works to ensure the safety of the tenants.”

The council repaired unsafe electrics, removed combustible items from the stairwell, repaired a faulty fire alarm system and reinstated hot water and heating in the building.
Meanwhile, the council issued the landlord, Mr Hamedur Choudhury, with an Improvement Notice that required him to rectify an extensive list of further defects and instructed him to repay the cost of the emergency repair works.

“The property had serious problems with damp and mould growth, excess cold, pests and refuse, sanitation and drainage, electrical hazards and fire safety but Mr Choudhury failed to correct these issues,” said the council.
Mr Choudhury pleaded guilty at Crawley Magistrates Court on April 25 to failing to comply with the terms of an Improvement Notice, as well as offences relating to the breach of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations and failing to licence a house of multiple occupation.

Mr Choudhury was ordered to pay a total of £17,012.89, including the council’s costs.

Councillor Norman Webster, Mid Sussex cabinet member for community, said later: “Everyone deserves to live in a safe and decent home. The living conditions we discovered at this property were completely unacceptable. It was a real house of horrors that put the health and safety of the occupants at serious risk.
“All rented accommodation must provide a safe and healthy environment for tenants and their visitors. If these standards are not being met our advice is always to inform the landlord first, to give them the opportunity to fix any problems.

“However, if a rogue landlord refuses to take their responsibilities seriously then we won’t hesitate to take action against them to ensure that they comply with the law.”