Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Landlord with £2.5m Worth of Assets Fined for Not Dealing with Damp in Tenant’s Home

Jonathan Clough Williams Ellis owns several properties, including Parc Glasfryn, which is located outside Pwllheli in North Wales. With assets worth £2.5 million, the 62-year-old is considered a tourism leader and recognised as one of the prominent landlords in the UK. 

Things may change for Ellis soon, though, as a court found that he failed to address damp and other disrepair issues in a tenant’s home. The court ordered Ellis to pay a fine and spend £8,690 after it was determined that there were serious issues in one of his properties.

Ellis defended himself by saying his tenants entered into an agricultural tenancy, so it was their responsibility to take care of the issues inside the property. His obligations, according to him, were limited to the roof and outer walls.

However, the Caernarfon Magistrates learned last month that the landlord ignored his responsibilities and did not follow an improvement notice set for compliance between June 20th, 2020 and February 10th, 2021. This led them to hand out a guilty ruling against Ellis.

In a hearing on October 21st, the defendant was asked to give details about his assets and finances, which is essential for handing out a proper sentence. The prosecution was reluctant and doubted if Ellis provided complete and transparent details about his cash assets. 

According to the prosecutor, the landlord is “asset-rich,” enumerating several companies that are linked to Ellis, including Attractions of Snowdonia, Glasfryn Farm, and Green Hire Ltd.  The prosecutor also counted administration expenses and wages for Parc Glasfryn, which totalled to over £260,000. The defendant’s claim of an annual income of £25,000 is way below the £2.5 million worth of assets that the prosecutor revealed and is misleading.

Ellis’ lawyer, however, argued that assets and income are two separate things and Ellis can be asset-rich, but cash-poor. Some of the landlord’s properties are not-for-profit organisations while others have not been earning well for years.

Despite his lawyer’s insistence that he was “of previous good character” and was negligent but not reckless, Ellis was still fined and ordered to pay costs worth £6,250 in addition to a victim surcharge of £190. 

Asked about the court ruling, a spokesman for the Gwynedd County Council said they were satisfied and hoped that the Ellis case will serve as a warning and discourage other landlords from neglecting their obligations. 

Rogue landlords

The issue of rogue landlords is a longstanding problem in the UK. 

Rogue landlords are property owners who rent out substandard and unsafe homes to tenants. Ellis’ indifference to the issues in his tenant’s home is one distinct characteristic of a rogue landlord. There are other signs that one should be aware of. These are:

  • Landlords are required by law to keep tenants’ deposits safe using any of the government-approved deposit protection schemes. This is an essential factor in ensuring the deposit is safe from the landlord and will not be used for personal purposes. Keeping tenant deposits in deposit protection schemes ensures both the landlord and tenant that the money will be returned to the tenants when the tenancy ends. A landlord who avoids talk or questions about protecting and returning tenant deposits are considered rogue.
  • Gas safety certificates are required of landlords. They should provide tenants with a copy of the certificate as a guarantee that the property is safe from boiler issues. Rogue landlords would not care to show tenants such safety certificates.
  • Landlords are also obligated to present tenants with a copy of the property’s Energy Performance Certificate or EPC. Furthermore, the certificate should reflect a level of an “E” at the least. If the landlord does not have an EPC or is not willing to get one, they are to be considered as rogue landlords.
  • Rogue landlords ignore the safety and maintenance of their properties, so they do not keep smoke alarms in working condition. They also do not care to refurbish the property; repainting was done years ago and there has never been a follow-up.
  • Landlords can visit their tenants, but they have to inform their renters about their plan 24 hours or more before the schedule. Rogue landlords just pop up whenever they want to, without respect for their tenants.
  • Rogue landlords, like Ellis, often ignore their tenants’ requests.

Protecting yourself and your deposit

Rogue landlords are the main reason for most tenant issues – disrepair, safety and protection, and ignored requests are only some of them. Problems like these make it even more important for tenants like you to ensure your deposit is protected from rogue landlords. If your deposit is protected, these law-breaking landlords cannot use it for their personal gain and you are guaranteed to get your money back at the end of your tenancy.

If your landlord has not protected your deposit, you can file a claim for tenancy protection compensation. Find a team of experienced solicitors who can help you through every step of the process. A dedicated team such as the one at Tenancy Deposit Claims will protect you against rogue landlords and ensure you’ll get back your tenancy deposit. 

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
Sam heads up Cheshire-based PR Fire, an online platform that has already helped over 10,000 businesses to grab widespread media coverage on their news at an extremely accessible price point.

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