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£20,000 fine for landlord who put tenants at risk

Halaj prosecution - electrical sockets Halaj prosecution - electrical sockets

A landlord from Midway has been given a hefty fine by Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court for housing vulnerable tenants in hazardous conditions in a case brought by South Derbyshire District Council.

Besnik Halaj, aged 47 of Elmsleigh Drive, Midway was given a £20,000 fine for four offences under the Housing Act 2004.The Court also awarded costs to the Council of £1427.13 and victim surcharge of £181.

Problems at Halaj’s property at 4 Elmsleigh Close, Midway were first brought to the attention of environmental health officers at South Derbyshire District Council in May 2019.

Council officers contacted Halaj and advised him that with the number of people living at the property, he would need to licence it with the Council as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) and to ensure that it met safety standards. 

Council officers led a visit with partners including Derbyshire Constabulary International Liaison Office, to the property again in November 2019 and found that it was still in use as a house in multiple occupation.

They also found that it had a deficient fire detection system, a lack of fire doors, electrical defects, no hot water, no gas safety certificate and disrepair to the kitchen. The condition of the property therefore presented a serious risk to the health of the people occupying it.

Halaj initially pleaded not guilty to the offences, but finally submitted a guilty plea in July 2021.

The Magistrates on sentencing remarked that these offences were very serious and that he had put people’s lives in danger.

The court made a collection order and indicated that non-payment of fines would result in him being brought back to court with potential of being imprisoned.

Cllr Steve Taylor, chair of South Derbyshire District Council’s Environment and Development Services Committee said “One of the Council’s top priorities is to keep residents healthy and happy in their homes.

“Private landlords are a really important part of this and the vast majority provide their tenants with good quality housing. Halaj wilfully ignored the law and the advice of our officers and tried to profit from the vulnerability of his tenants.

“We will investigate and take action as necessary and any landlord who thinks that they can rent unsafe housing in South Derbyshire had better think again.”

Any property which is rented out by at least three people who are not from one ‘household’ (for example a family), but who share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen must be licensed with the local Council and meet minimum safety requirements.

23 July 2021

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