Landlords Win HMO Conviction Appeals Against Council
In four months, a city council housing team has seen two prosecutions against HMO landlords quashed on appeal.
The latest hearing saw Jaswinder Khatkar’s conviction for ignoring improvement orders from Derby City Council overturned.
In February 2020, he was found guilty of not following the orders at two HMOs he rents out in the city and ordered to pay £19,000 in fines and costs.
Listening to the appeal at Derby Crown Court, Judge Robert Egbuna revealed another landlord had a similar case overturned in the city in March.
Khatkar’s lawyer told the court he was unaware of the notice until the appeal time limit had run out, giving him no time to contest the matter with the council.
Defence barrister Ecky Tiwana said: “This was a shocking case of an abuse of process by Derby City Council, with a catalogue of process failings and defects.
“The law must be applied in all cases and there is a greater responsibility on council housing standard officers who should be fully trained and aware of the law and their responsibilities and follow them.”
Khatkar is now threatening to sue the council for damaging his reputation as a landlord in Derby.
“The past 12 months have been tough to take, especially the unfair prosecution and damage to my reputation, but I always had faith that justice would be done, as I was determined to fight and clear my name,” said.
“I just hope the council does not have a policy to target certain landlords for prosecution and fines as a revenue stream.
“Given the way I have been treated I will now be considering further legal action for damages.
“This has massively damaged my reputation in the community. It has affected me in getting an HMO licence. It has damaged me emotionally and financially.” A council spokesperson said:
“Following a re-evaluation of the council’s position after considering the grounds of the appeal which raised a number of technical points, the decision was taken not to contest the appeal.
"This resulted in the appeals being allowed unopposed.”
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The Housing Act 2004 places a statutory duty on local authorities to identify hazards and to assess risks to tenants’ health and safety. Local authorities are required to use a system called the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)