Nottingham Crime and Regulatory solicitor Martin Hadley recently represented a landlord in interview relating to an alleged breach of regulations applying to a house in multiple occupation.
Inspection of a House in Multiple Occupation
The landlord had been visited by the local authority inspectors who had found shortcomings in the facilities offered within the property. Martin’s client had successfully negotiated a period of time to make alterations to the premises to bring them into line with current legislation.
He had then employed a reputable contractor to undertake the works. He knew the builder personally and had used him for many years. As a result he believed that the work would be completed to the requested specification and paid for the works to be done.
As a result, the landlord had no reason to suspect that the premises would not fulfil the requirements of the local authority.
Unfortunately a subsequent visit by the inspectors revealed that the works did not fulfil the statutory requirements and the landlord was invited by the Council for an interview at their offices. This was to be a recorded interview. The purpose was to gather evidence for a potential prosecution. Our client was to be cautioned at the start of the interview.
Understandably, our client was extremely worried about the interview. Unfortunately, rather than instruct us immediately he instead instructed an expert to produce a report to show the council that he had completed the works to the relevant statutory requirements for a house in multiple occupation. Of course, he hadn’t.
Defence of Reasonable Excuse
Sadly, this expense was not needed. The report could not address the defence that our client needed to put forward. Once he received advice
Martin was able to advice him that he would be able to put forward a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the statutory requirements, that being the instruction and payment of a builder of appropriate skill and experience to undertake the works.
In order to allow our client to budget for his legal fees Martin agreed a fixed fee. Within this fee, Martin liaised with the local authority to find out the detail of the allegations that would be put in interview, and advised his client prior to interview. This meant he was able to ensure that his client brought along a bundle of relevant papers to the interview. The advice continued throughout the interview.
As a result the client was able to raise the necessary defence and support it with documentary evidence. The council decided to take the matter no further. No court proceedings were brought.
Contact Martin Hadley
This case illustrates the importance of taking early advice from a specialist lawyer in order to ensure that your case is dealt with efficiently and without incurring unnecessary expense.
If you are a landlord responsible for a house in multiple occupation and receive contact from the local authority please telephone Martin on 0115 9599550 or email him here. He will be able to provide you with advice on how best to deal with the allegations and agree fees for affordable advice.