A landlord who has consistently refused to carry out vital works on his rental property has been prosecuted and fined for the second time at Southend Magistrates Court last week.

The case come after he ignored another Improvement Notice to fix the roof of a property he rents out to ensure it is water-tight, meets building regulations, and prevents against penetrating damp in the property.

Mr Victor Robbins, of Rayleigh Road, Leigh-on-Sea and owner of a first floor flat in Burdett Avenue, Westcliff-on-Sea was found guilty in his absence and fined £3500, along with a £120 victim surcharge and £460 in costs. The maximum fine is £5000.

The case was heard on May 21.

The council was also granted a compensation order of £1604 for previous works that were carried out in default. This followed a hearing in November when Mr Robbins was fined £2500, along with a £120 victim surcharge and £670 in costs. This money has yet to be paid and a warrant remains out for his arrest.

The Council’s Private Sector Housing Team led the case after receiving complaints from the tenants of the property in February 2014, about damp and a lack of action by Mr Robbins. A PSH Enforcement Officer inspected the property in March which confirmed the property was suffering from severe penetrating damp and excess cold due to a lack of provision of fixed controllable heating. The internal and external stairs were in a hazardous state and the gas boiler had not been serviced for a number of years.

The case was also forwarded to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who have their own prosecution case against the landlord.

Cllr David Norman, Executive Councillor for Housing, Planning, and Regulatory Services, says: “To ignore two improvement notices so brazenly is completely unacceptable and wrong, and so I am very pleased that the team have been tenacious in their work and have refused to give up in their quest to ensure that this landlord is bought to book and the property bought up to an acceptable standard. I am also pleased that another fine has been levied and we will be carrying out these additional roof works in default and charging that back to Mr Robbins.

“National regulations are in place for a reason and our Private Sector Housing Team are committed in their investigations to tackle this menace. I hope that this sends a further message to other landlords out there who are not complying with their duties.”

Case background: An initial letter highlighting the problems at the property and a request for information was sent to Mr Robbins in March 2014. On the 9th June 2014 a Council Private Sector Housing Officer inspected the property and a carried out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) assessment. This identified three category one hazards: Excess Cold Damp and Mould Growth and; Falls associated with stairs and steps.

On the 20th June 2014 two Improvement Notices were served under the Housing Act 2004 section 11, for excess cold and for falls associated with stairs and steps. Work was required to be completed by 15th September 2014. On the 21st June 2014 the Council received a letter from Mr Victor HG Robbins. The letter confirmed that Mr Robbins had received both the notices but it was clear that he did not intend to carry out works.

On the 19th September the private sector housing team inspected the property, and no works had been completed and there was no satisfactory arrangement in place with Mr Robbins for completion of the works or a suitable alternative plan in place.

The Council successfully prosecuted Mr Victor HG Robbins for failure to comply with the notice. Mr Robbins did not attend Court on the 12th November 2014 and the matter was proved in his absence. Mr Robbins was found guilty and given a £2,500 fine, £120 victim surcharge and £670.39 costs. The Council then carried out works in default the cost of £1,604.30 was charge to Mr Robbins. This payment remains outstanding.

On the 30th March 2015 the second Improvement Notice on the property expired. The property was inspected by the council on 1st April 2015. No works had been completed and there was no satisfactory arrangement in place with Mr Robbins for completion of the works or suitable alternative plan proposed. The Council is arranging for these works to be carried out in default.

The HSE are also prosecuting Mr Robbins for failure as a landlord to have the gas appliances at the property serviced within the last twelve months and failure to comply with an Improvement Notice requiring Mr Robbins to have the gas appliances serviced by a competent person.