A ROGUE landlord has been fined more than £5,000 and ordered to pay a further £4,000 after Swindon Borough Council took action to protect his tenants.

John Avery is the owner of 95 Stafford Street in Old Town, a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO).

Last December, one of the council’s environmental health officers inspected the property and found the occupants living in extremely poor conditions that posed serious health risks.

Fire safety measures had been ignored, escape routes were obstructed, a basement was wrongly being used as a bedroom and there were holes in the ceiling.

Mr Avery was made aware of the breaches of his HMO licence but failed to attend several interviews with council officers. When he finally did attend one in June, he acknowledged that management of the property had been poor but failed to supply any reasonable excuse for the conditions.

Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “This case shows our commitment to ensuring that no tenant has to live at the mercy of a landlord who does not care about their living conditions."

"In most cases, we are able to resolve problems such as this before legal action is required. However, in this case, Mr Avery proved extremely uncooperative. In the end, we had to take him to court to ensure his tenants were protected and kept safe.

“I hope this sends out a clear message that breaching an HMO licence, failing to cooperate with our environmental health officers and putting people at risk will more than likely result in a hefty fine.”

Mr Avery attended Swindon Magistrates’ Court on Monday and pleaded guilty to nine offences. He was ordered to pay £600 for each breach, a £170 victim surcharge and £4,158 in legal costs for the council's investigation. His HMO licence will also be reviewed by the council.