Estate agent owner of HMO has fine for non-compliance cut by over £28,000

A landlord who was originally threatened with a £31,499 fine over breaches at a House in Multiple Occupation has had the penalty cut to just £3,300.

Tan Sandhu – described as an estate agent – had a semi in Coventry which came to the city council’s notice as part of a campaign of inspections designed to improve the quality of HMO housing near Warwick University.

The inspection revealed four breaches, including an insecure rear door, the removal of a smoke/heat detector in the kitchen and no fire blanket, the need for keys to get out of individual rooms, and no display of the contact details of the property manager.

The landlord was notified of the breaches in November 2018, and the council re-inspected the property in March this year.

It found several breaches had not been rectified, including the rear door, keys were still needed to exit rooms, and there was no notice of the manager’s details.

The inspection also found workmen in the building.

The council decided to impose a penalty totalling £31,499 – £2,100 for the lack of notice and £29,399 for the safety breaches.

The landlord appealed, saying this was excessive, and the council reduced it to £24,649.

The landlord appealed again, saying that the penalty was not in line with the council’s policies or with government guidelines, and that his financial circumstances had not been taken into account.

The case went to a First Tier Tribunal, where Sandhu admitted to the breaches, but said he had worked to correct them. The second council inspection found contractors in the property, with works still under way.

The tribunal was scathing about the council’s penalty calculations.

For example, it had originally fined Sandhu £2,100 over the lack of the property manager details notice.

The tribunal said the sum should have been £200 for a first offence, although it added 10% to this, saying that as an estate agent/mortgage broker, Sandhu “should have known better”.

In relation to the safety issues, the tribunal said it was not persuaded that the amounts demanded were “in any way reasonable or reflect the actual failures” of the landlord.

The tribunal cut the sum to £5,000, and then halved this for a first offence. However, it again added 10% because of the landlord’s professional status.

After the case, compliance expert Phil Turtle of Landlord Licensing and Defence, said: “Whilst we cannot condone a landlord not knowing or failing to comply with the HMO Management Regulations, this case is a clear example of a council mis-applying the legislation for its own purposes.

“Coventry City Council had originally tried to extract £31,499 from this landlord when in fact, as the Tribunal determined, it was only entitled to fine the landlord a total of £3,300: an attempted over-charge of £28,199.

“Whilst there is no actual proof of causality in this case, it is however interesting that whereas court fines go to central government, councils get to keep these landlord fines as an income stream, which may affect their objectivity.”



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  1. Orson67

    What else would one expect from the greedy, grasping, thieving, money grabbing scum that now masquerade as “public servants”, they are nothing mo9re than the dog**** on peoples shoes.


  2. AgencyInsider

    He ‘had a semi in Coventry’?

    Oooer missus!

    1. PeeBee


      Don’t know about you – but I am frankly disappointed with this chap.

      Wouldn’t you have thought, as an ‘estate agent’, he would have wanted it described as “an imposing semi”?

      1. Snyper

        A “most impressive semi” even

  3. Woodentop

    So someone can mug granny, sexually assault a women in a bar, two guys can batter themselves on a Saturday night, burgle your house and have 17 other cases taken into account, be a benefit cheat, have no car insurance …… the list is longgggggg. Penalty = Don’t do it again and slap on wrist or fine averaging a couple of £100 at most and some community work.


    Councils must come into line with the judiciary penalty system for they are behaving like over zealous cowboys.

    1. Expertinafield28

      Just want to clarify a few things as people often don’t realize the sentences passed down. I’ve had to make some assumptions to the severity of the crimes, but this I have based this on the lower severity scale.

      Mug Granny – 4 years imprisonment

      Sexual Assualt – 26 Weeks imprisonment

      Two guys in a bar fighting – High Community order. In order of 150-200 hours service and possible curfew.

      18 counts of Burglary – 1 year imprisonment.

      Benefit cheat – 26 weeks imprisonment

      No insurance – Fine, points or disqualification. Never a custodial sentence.


      So, would you like the councils to come into line with the judiciary system now?

      1. Woodentop

        Lol, What ‘severity scale’ did you come up with those sentences? Mugs granny does not get a 4 year prison term, unless she is battered. Grabbing her handbag and running off it not on the list of Justice system rating books for imprisonment or are the other severity of penalties you mention except in the most sever of cases and even then may require referring to crown court for sentencing. Magistrates courts issue bindings, conditional discharges, small fines and very rarely send anyone to prison these days except for serious and repeat offenders and exteremly rare to issue the maximum penalty allowed. Even the police now issue warning notices. Put that into context to the penalties imposed by a council official in this story.

        1. Expertinafield28

          Grabbing a bag and running off isn’t robbery, unless force was used to take the bag in which case it is.

          I assumed that there was minimal violence used, but that the victim suffered mental distress from the incident which would put the starting sentencing at 2 years. Add the aggravating factor that the victim is elderly and you add time onto that.

          1. Woodentop

            Category range 4A 
            Medium level community order or max 36 weeks’ custody
            Category range 4B
            Band C fine or max Medium level community order
            Category range 4C
            Discharge or Band C fine
            That’s puts to bed the assumption of minimum 2 years penalty. Or  
            You drive down the road and exceed the speed limit within the 20 mph rule (more than adequate ‘risk’ to cause serious injury of death) but you get a fixed penalty fine £100 and 3 points compared to …  
            Not displaying managers contact details in an HMO £2,100.

  4. singlelayer

    This agent should indeed have known better, but we must stick to penalties that fit the offence. I would liken it to speeding…we all know we shouldn’t do it (and I’m not talking very, very briefly going 2mph over the limit) and it could, potentially, be dangerous and putting many lives at risk (not too dissimilar to Sandhu’s offences here), but the fine is equal to a couple of hundred pounds. There would be an outcry if speeding fines were in the same order as the original penalty in this article. If someone had died because they could not get out of the building owing to needing a key to exit the building, then fair enough the penalty will vastly increase…just as it would if a speeder run someone over, but let’s keep things in proportion. Trying to put a rule-fouling landlord into the same general categories as robbers, muggers & sexual assaults is where folk have been, effectively, brainwashed into thinking these landlord ‘crimes’ are on some kind of par.
    So, with all that in mind, and keeping everything in perspective, let’s revisit the four offences:
    1). Insecure rear door. 2). No fire blanket or kitchen smoke detector (removed, so was originally there). 3). Need for keys to exit individual rooms. 4). No display of the contact details of the property manager.
    I would suggest these are similar in nature to:
    1). Tyre tread below min. limit (like the insecure door, potentially bigger consequences but nothing actually happened). 2). Not wearing a seatbelt (safety issue where others could be injured, but nothing actually happened). 3). Going into shop whilst leaving child asleep in car (could pose a risk to live, IF something happened and IF the child didn’t know how to get out). 4). Registration plate fell off (nothing more than an admin ‘crime’…just like the missing HMO manager’s details).
    £1,000-£1,500 fine max.   


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