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Landlord fails in appeal to tribunal over £2k fine for defective smoke alarm

The First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) has rejected a landlord’s appeal over a £2,000 fine imposed by a council for a defective smoke alarm at a flat he owned.

In Badwal v Kingston Upon Hull City Council [2017] UKFTT PR_2017_0028, the judgment for which was published on Bailii this week, the appellant was the landlord of residential premises in Hull.

The council, as the enforcement authority, served on him a remedial notice under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, on 10 May 2017. 

As the notice was not complied with, the council served a penalty charge notice in the sum of £2,000 on 11 July 2017.

By his Notice of Appeal dated 15 August 2017, the appellant made it clear that he did not dispute the facts on which the council relied when deciding to impose the financial penalty.

However, he submitted that the council’s decision to impose a financial penalty was unreasonable and that the amount of the penalty was unreasonable.

The appellant did not dispute that the smoke alarm was defective when inspected by the council on 7 May 2017.  He had apologised for his omission and stated his intention was to do better in future.

He stated that he did not immediately remedy the situation because he was on holiday and busy at work.  He suggested the council should have reminded him. He explained his financial situation and asked for the penalty to be reduced.

The council’s published approach to breaches of the Regulations was to impose a penalty of £2,000 for a first contravention and £5,000 for a subsequent contravention.

The council pointed out that one of its environmental health officers had reminded the landlord a week after service of the notice to act.

Principal Judge Alison McKenna rejected Mr Badwal’s appeal. She said she was satisfied that the financial penalty was lawfully and reasonably imposed by the council in this case for the serious breach of the Regulations which formed the subject matter of this appeal.

The judge also found that:

  • She was satisfied that the amount of financial penalty imposed by the council was reasonable in all the circumstances.
  • The amount of penalty was in accordance with the council’s published guidelines.
  • The appellant failed to take account of the early payment scheme.

“The Appellant’s excuses of being on holiday and being busy at work are not in my view matters which should justify a departure from the council’s usual approach to financial penalties,” Judge McKenna said.

“As a landlord who went on holiday whilst leaving his property in a dangerous condition it is unfortunate that the Appellant chose to refer to his sympathy for the Grenfell Tower victims in seeking the Tribunal’s indulgence.”

Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed and the penalty charge notice was confirmed in the sum of £2,000.

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