19 Oct 2020
A Landlord who told our firm that he’d rather go out alone than pay £450 in fees for legal assistance has ended up with the inevitable DIY result of a massive Rent Repayment Order for £28,000.
“Landlords who think they have the skills that they can handle their own case in the Property Tribunal are for the most part deluded and heading for disaster”, said Phil Turtle compliance director with Landlord Licensing & Defence. “Mostly they are in total denial of their guilt and think they can talk their way out of their criminal actions by saying repeatedly that it’s not fair. Landlords need to get their heads around the fact that not having a HMO or Selective licence where required is a Strict Liability Criminal Act and they are guilty. They then need professional representation by experts who understand the law and can negotiate the fines to a much lower level – as task for which they simply do not have the skills.”
Gurjiven Singh Chhokran had been renting out 72 Stuart Crescent, Stanmore, to students without the correct permissions.
Following a court hearing, he must now pay a total of £28,400 – despite claiming that Winchester City Council had lost his application.
In a report by a tribunal, it states that Mr Chhokran was using the property as a seven-bedroom HMO which was not licensed for the period of October 1 2018 to December 2 2019.
“The respondent relied on two pieces of evidence to substantiate his belief that a valid application was made for a licence in September/October 2018,” it says.
“The first is that the respondent said he contacted the city council about the progress of his application in January 2019.
“The respondent’s assertion is undermined by his failure to give the City Council the number of the mobile that he said he used to phone the city council which would have enabled the council to have checked whether such a phone call had been made.
“The implausibility of the Respondent’s assertion is compounded by the fact that he apparently used a Pay to Go mobile rather than his regular phone, the number of which appeared on the tenancy agreement and the other documentation.”
A spokesman from Winchester City Council has denied Mr Chhokran’s claims.
A spokesman said: “We are aware that the landlord of 72 Stuart Crescent contended that he had submitted a valid application for a HMO licence in September 2018, however we have received no evidence to substantiate this despite giving Mr Chhokran multiple opportunities to provide evidence.
“The council will actively seek to hold landlords who fail in their statutory duty to licence their properties to account. If any residents have any concerns as to landlords not holding the correct licences please call our Customer Service Centre on 01962 840 222 for further support.”
Bethan Stevens, Eleanor Scalley, Sam Loyd-Bisley, Giles Pickett, Michael Antony, Eloise Pepper and Elliot Phillips are one group of students who applied for a refund.
Mr Chhokran must pay each of them £2,571.43, totalling £18,000.
He must also pay each of the second set of applicants £1,428.57, totalling £10,000.
Both sets will also be paid £200 to cover the hearing costs.
Attempts have been made to contact Mr Chhokran for a comment.