North East Derbyshire District Council Joint Environmental Health team successfully prosecuted a landlord who let out properties in appalling conditions with serious faults, hazards damp and mould as they and the Judge in court took a no-nonsense approach and was jailed for 10 months.
Martin Ambler, aged 58, owns properties in Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire and Bolsover and upon inspection of a property by the Environmental Health Team they found the landlord had let the property to a family which contained several category one hazards – the most serious risk to health and was infested with rats.
There was evidence of neglect and serious hazards throughout the ‘home’, with holes in walls, gaps in decaying windows, doors which could not close, external doors which leaked and allowed wind through, along with serious damp and mould problems.
As officers investigated more of his properties another was found to have metal shutters attached to windows meaning tenants had no access to natural light for several weeks and a third property of Amblers had become a dumping ground for huge amounts of fly-tipping which he failed to clear up.
In his sentencing remarks, the Judge stated, “I consider that the only appropriate punishment for these breaches is an immediate [prison] term. There has been a history of poor compliance with court orders. The offences themselves were a breach of an order.
I did not consider there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation in the light of his [Martin Amber’s] response which showed an unwillingness to take the opportunity to change his ways
The case comes after a nationwide housing safety crisis has attracted attention of the Secretary of State for Levelling up Housing & Communities, Michael Gove, following the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak in Rochdale.
He died from respiratory failure caused by chronic mould and damp that was not addressed by the landlord. The Secretary of State has since issued a direction, instructing all local housing authorities whilst carrying out their duty to review housing conditions in their area, to have particular regard to damp and mould hazards.
Ken Eastwood, Assistant Director of the Joint Environmental Health Service leading the case said, “This Landlord grossly evaded his responsibilities and let sub-standard property to vulnerable tenants without any consideration for their health or wellbeing. The disrepair, damp, mould and rodent infestations presented significant risks to the health and safety of his tenants.
In light of recent tragic events in Rochdale, our council and environmental health services has an absolutely zero tolerance policy on landlords who do not keep their properties up to standards for their tenants. We care passionately about our residents and our teams of highly trained staff can, and will act swiftly to ensure properties are safe for families in our district.
In this particular case, Ambler failed to fix the issues in his properties, despite repeated requests from the Council and the Court and his obligations under the Criminal Behaviour Order. He is now paying the price for his failure to act responsibly.”