After a long running dispute, Cyril Thomas, an HMO landlord, was acquitted of all housing charges brought against him by Colchester Borough Council.
The director of Platinum Crown Investments Limited faced nine housing charges associated to a house of multiple occupation in Colchester.
Mr Thomas has spoken of his delight that Chelmsford Crown Court ruled to dismiss all the nine charges brought against him by individuals within Colchester Council. He described the proceedings as time-consuming, costly and emotionally draining for everyone involved in the process, and claimed the judge dismissed the charges due to insufficient evidence provided by the council.
Mr Thomas stated that one of the primary reasons he could successfully defend himself over the proceedings was his significant investment in bespoke software solutions, which allowed him to provide the required evidence when necessary. He claims this is an important warning for all landlords and property managers to invest in good software systems which allow them to keep on top of property management and the legal requirements which are in place.
Archie Maddan, Mr Thomas’ defence barrister, highlighted several areas where Colchester Council’s case collapsed. Several of the alleged charges did not actually occur on the date that the Environmental Health Officer stated, with one charge even failing to specify what he was being convicted of. Mr Maddan also claimed that the judge did not consider the offences severe enough to warrant a charge, with the overriding reason in the dismissal being a lack of evidence produced by the council.
Mr Maddan also claimed that a minimum of three of the offences were caused by tenant carelessness. These included the removal of light bulbs by the tenants from communal areas to be placed in bedrooms, and the storing of bicycles within communal fire escapes. This comes after Platinum Crown repeatedly delivered written warnings to the tenants about this behaviour.
Cyril Thomas explained that the outcome of the case asks questions about the processes, which were followed by Colchester Council, which led to the pursuit of criminal convictions against the landlord. He hopes to continue his positive relationships with Environmental Health Officers, as councils and private sector landlords must work together to fix the housing issues in today’s society. However, he emphasises that this can only be accomplished if trust exists between the two parties.
Like all letting agents, Platinum Crown has lessons to learn and does not claim to be a perfect business. However, as a large contributor of HMO rooms in the town of Colchester, it takes its extra responsibilities as a landlord and positive example to other property businesses in the area extremely seriously.
It claims that the experience has aided the firm in making its business stronger, with it extending help to numerous other similar businesses in the area with its property management, business structures and software systems. Platinum Crown hopes to reduce the risks of other businesses having to endure the struggles that it has gone through, and has reached out to the local community to thank them for their support during the difficult years of the court case.
The judge ordered Colchester Council to issue a full refund of the initial fine of £20,000 which was levied to Mr Thomas.
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