Couple fined £30,000 for putting tenants at risk at former Lobthorpe bed and breakfast

Black Bull farmhouse, Lobthorpe.
Black Bull farmhouse, Lobthorpe.
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A married couple have been fined and left with a bill of over £30,000 for dangerously turning their bed and breakfast property into rental accommodation and leaving tenants with fire, gas and electricity hazards.

South Kesteven District Council prosecuted Roy and Carol Tripp under House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) legislation for transferring the Black Bull Farm House, adjacent to the A1 in Lobthorpe, into rooms for families and individuals.

Exposed wiring found in Black Bull Farmhouse, Lobthorpe.

Exposed wiring found in Black Bull Farmhouse, Lobthorpe.

Lincoln Magistrates’ Court heard the couple never applied to licence the property as an HMO, allowed tenants to live in makeshift conditions with intermittent electricity supply, exposed electrical plug points and wiring and falsified gas certificates and fire checks.

Complaints were made to the council by a former tenant and warnings received from Trading Standards as to the property’s day to day running.

Despite repeated efforts from 2014 onwards from SKDC advising the couple to complete work at the property and apply for a licence as an HMO, they ignored correspondence and then claimed the tenants had been given notice to leave.

However, months later the council’s Environmental Health team found the property still being advertised as rental accommodation on a Facebook page and following more non-compliance in 2015, the council initiated legal proceedings.

Mouldy conditions found in a bedroom at Black Bull Farmhouse, Lobthorpe.

Mouldy conditions found in a bedroom at Black Bull Farmhouse, Lobthorpe.

The couple were found guilty in their absence to two offences under the Housing Act 2004 on February 11 and left with a £12,500 fine each. They were also ordered to pay costs of £5,564.16, totalling a bill of £30,564.16. Presiding magistrate Graham Hall said: “We believe the welfare of people using properties is paramount. There was a blatant disregard for any help offered.”

SKDC’s Executive Member for Housing Coun Frances Cartwright said: “The hefty fine in this case is a warning to homeowners seeking to transfer any property into rental accommodation.

“They must always do this lawfully, working with the authorities to follow the necessary procedures so they and their tenants can be protected.

“Most landlords provide a good service for their tenants in South Kesteven but our officers are here to always ensure housing law is followed.”