Rogue death trap landlord banned

by Gary Whittaker

A rogue landlord who has been found renting out 14 unsafe properties in Glasgow while unlicensed has been banned from renting out any more homes by the city council. 

Harpal Singh was caught letting property without a licence after previously serving 30 months in prison over his role in the tragic case of a fire in a basement property he was renting out in 1999, which claimed the life of two 20-year-olds. 

The pair had been unable to escape because there were metal bars on the window, trapping them inside. 

Mr Singh was jailed for perjury after falsely claiming the flat had a working smoke detector, when in fact it had no batteries and was not in a functioning condition. 

Having served his sentence, the landlord subsequently applied for a licence to resume renting out properties in 2013. This bid was refused, but he has been found to have proceeded anyway.

Worse still, inspectors found an array of safety shortcomings in his portfolio, including a lack of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as faulty floors and windows. Six properties have been placed under immediate closure orders. 

Mr Singh may now face a fine of up to £50,000 for operating without a licence and breaching fire safety rules. Many of these are in place as a direct result of government legislation in 2000 concerning houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in response to the 1999 tragedy. 

The father of one of the 1999 fire victims, Sandy Fraser, said: "We hoped after James and Daniel's accident that he [Mr Singh] would have changed his ways, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

"Some good has come out of the incident, with changes to HMO, but to see Harpal Singh has still been operating is very, very worrying."

Mr Fraser added he was glad the council had "thoroughly" investigated his activities and blocked him from being a landlord.

Shortcomings in gas and fire safety provisions can have other consequences for landlords in less extreme cases than that of Mr Singh.

In February, the Residential Landlords' Association (RLA) highlighted a case where a landlord was unable to take possession of a property because he had not issued a gas safety certificate to the tenants before they moved in. 

This led to a court ruling that the landlord could not use a section 21 notice to repossess the home. 

As well as noting the legal precedent this set, the RLA reminded landlords of the need to comply with safety laws. 

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04-April-18General Lettings News