Rogue landlords prosecuted for providing squalid living conditions

PR2239/YL/MF - 22/08/2019

A couple in East Grinstead have been prosecuted after renting out a property that contained a number of serious hazards and defects.

Mr Hamedur Choudhury and his wife Mrs Roshon Choudhury let out two flats and staff accommodation above the Nizam restaurant at 42-44 High Street, East Grinstead. Environmental Health Officers from Mid Sussex District Council inspected the property in February 2018 and discovered a number of serious issues with the accommodation, including unsafe electrics, a lack of adequate heating, substandard kitchen facilities, unsafe stairs, faulty fire alarms and the majority of windows were either cracked or broken.

Mid Sussex District Council Environmental Health Officers offered to work with Mr and Mrs Choudhury to help bring their attention to the deficiencies of the property and to highlight the repair works needed to bring the accommodation up to the required standard. When the Choudhurys did not carry out any of the repair work voluntarily, they were issued with an Improvement Notice that legally required them to carry out certain improvement works. The majority of these essential repair works were not carried out and the Council took the decision to prosecute the landlords for their negligence.

On 15 August 2019 Mr Hamedur Choudhury and Mrs Roshon Ara Choudhury were found guilty at Brighton Magistrates’ Court of failing to comply with the terms of an Improvement Notice (s.30(1) Housing Act 2004). Additionally, Mr Choudhury was found guilty of four offences under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2016. The Magistrates’ Court fined Mr and Mrs Choudhury a total of £55,568, including the Council’s costs.

Mr and Mrs Choudhury have previously been found guilty of similar housing standards offences relating to a separate House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) at Grove House in Copthorne. Horsham Magistrates’ fined them £87,996 for failing to address a number of serious defects within the property that led to damp and mould growth, excess cold, electrical hazards and fire safety issues.

“It’s totally unacceptable for landlords to expect their tenants to live in the squalid conditions our Environmental Health Officers found at 42-44 High Street, East Grinstead,” said Councillor Norman Webster, Cabinet Member for Community. “The living conditions were not just unpleasant; they actually put the safety of the occupants at risk and that clearly cannot be tolerated because people should be able to live in a safe and decent home.

“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.”