Horden landlord fined in court over ‘vermin’ risk at house
A company which failed to admit to owning a property with “health and vermin risks” has been ordered in court to pay nearly £2,000.
Durham County Council inspected a house in Horden in August 2022 following concerns over the condition of the rear yard.
Waste materials had accumulated, there was a blocked drain gully and incomplete waste provision to allow for proper drainage, resulting in a risk to health.
A council tax search showed that Front Worth Limited, of Pinfold Street, in Birmingham, was the owner of the property. This was later confirmed by a Land Registry check.
A notice under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act, which requires the owner to carry out works to keep the land and property free from vermin, was served by the authority.
Yet the council received no response to this.
But a separate correspondence was received from an individual who stated that the property did not belong to Front Worth and that it had been sold some time ago.
With clear evidence to the contrary, officers served a separate notice, requiring the company to state, in writing, the nature of its interest in the property in Horden within 14 days.
The council says that given the health and vermin risks presented by the state of the yard, it was important for the council to have this information.
However, it is yet to receive a reply and has not been able to progress the matter.
The case was heard in the defendant’s absence at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court, where Front Worth was fined £1,100 and ordered to pay £300 costs and a £440 victim surcharge, totalling £1,840.
Owen Cleugh, Durham County Council’s public protection manager, said: “All landlords have a duty to follow the necessary guidance and ensure appropriate work is carried out to their properties to help protect the health and safety of tenants and communities.
“While the majority of landlords work with us to ensure this remains the case, we hope this prosecution serves as a warning to the minority who fail to comply with instructions.
"This behaviour will not be tolerated and we will always take action where necessary.”