A landlord convicted of a string of offences which put the tenants of his Chester bedsits at risk has been ordered to repay housing benefit totaling more than £5,000.
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A residential property tribunal ruled that Jonathan Shingfield must repay £5,251.84 to Cheshire West and Chester Council.
He received the benefit for three tenants who occupied bedsits in a converted three-storey Victorian property in Louise Street, Garden Quarter, which he was letting without a licence.
Mr Shingfield, 29, Director of Manchester-based Shingfield Estates, was found guilty in October 2013 of nine offences under housing legislation.
The Council’s Private Sector Housing Team brought the case against Mr Shingfield after being contacted by a tenant from the Louise Street property.
The tenant reported that his landlord had removed his bedsit door and glazing to his window in an attempt to force him to leave.
On inspection the property was found to be poorly managed and maintained and serious issues were identified relating to fire safety, suitability of amenities and general maintenance, including staircases and windows.
Furthermore, the property was registered as being occupied by a single family, and no licence was in place to ensure suitability for the number of occupants or that the licensee was a fit and proper person to run a large House of Multiple Occupation (HMO).
Evidence from the court case, which was heard by Chester Magistrates, was put before the tribunal.
The Council was notified of the decision of the Property Chamber Northern Residential Property First Tier tribunal yesterday (Wednesday), following the hearing on May 27.
Alison Amesbury, the Council’s Interim Head of Housing Strategy, said: “This is the first time that Cheshire West and Chester Council has taken formal action for these types of offences.
“We are delighted at the tribunal decision. It sends out a strong message that rogue landlords who put their tenants at risk will not be tolerated in West Cheshire.
“As well as responding to complaints from tenants, our Private Sector Housing Team operates an inspection programme to ensure properties are well managed and maintained.
“We also run the Cheshire Landlord Accreditation Scheme which recognises good landlords who provide higher quality accommodation.”
Mr Shingfield was convicted of offences concerning illegal eviction, absence of a HMO licence and breaches of the HMO Management Regulations. He was fined £9,590.
The tenants of the Louise Street property who were not claiming Housing Benefit have been advised that they can claim back the rent they paid to Mr Shingfield.