Buy-to-let landlord Judith Wilson has this week been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay legal costs of £14,890 after failing to comply with a notice ordering her to supply hot water to a disabled tenant.
But Folkestone Magistrates Court heard that in order to pay, a house would have to be sold and a family evicted.
Outside the court, after sentencing, Judith Wilson’s husband Fergus said tenants in 300 homes would be given notice to quit.
The enforcement notice which led to Mrs Wilson’s sentencing on Tuesday had been issued by Ashford Borough Council.
After finding Wilson guilty at a hearing in November, District Judge Justin Barron had ordered her to return to court for sentencing.
He had also made a financial circumstances order under Section 162 of the Criminal Justice Act that required her to disclose in court documents evidencing all bank accounts, both individual and joint, plus all assets.
In addition to the fine, Judge Barron ordered Wilson to pay Ashford Council’s legal costs in full within eight weeks.
The Judge did acknowledge that Mrs Wilson was not “as wealthy as people think”. The court was told she pays herself £23,000 annually from the lettings business.
Defence barrister Ben Lebb said that in order to make the payment, a house would have to be sold and a family evicted.
Welcoming the sentencing, a spokesman for Ashford Council said: “This successful prosecution shows that we have teeth and we are not afraid to fight for the rights of tenants.
“What a lot of private sector tenants don’t realise is that if they have trouble with their landlord they can come to us for help.
“Ashford Borough Council champions the rights of tenants and we make sure that landlords remain accountable and live up to their responsibilities under the law. If they don’t, then there are consequences.
“In this case we did everything we could to resolve the situation. We gave Mrs Wilson every opportunity to find a solution to the problem but we were ignored. In the end, we realised that the only way to get justice for the tenants involved was to prosecute.”
At the earlier hearing, Wilson confirmed she is the landlady of around 300 properties.
On Tuesday, after the sentencing and speaking on her behalf, Fergus Wilson said: “The 300 homes will be given notice to quit after Christmas.
“They’ve got two months: we’ll probably give it until January 14 – let them get Christmas out the way.
“Then we will be giving them two months to go, because that’s the statutory amount, from April onwards they will be made homeless.”
Ashford Council’s portfolio holder for housing, Cllr Gerald White, told reporters that the case had been brought because of a breach of law.
Asked if the council could absorb a potential mass eviction, he said that the council has “a duty under law to help assist and to house”.
He said: “Mr Wilson has made a statement that he wishes to sell his stock. If he does, those houses will hopefully be sold to another landlord who will make sure those people stay in those houses as tenants.
“It would be a churlish decision to expel the people when they bring income in.”