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Landlord ordered to pay £174k for failing to fix apartment block

PUBLISHED: 08:52 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:52 27 March 2020

Mould in the corridor at 60 St Faith's Lane, Norwich. Photo: Archant

Mould in the corridor at 60 St Faith's Lane, Norwich. Photo: Archant

Archant

A landlord who charged tenants thousands of pounds to live in dangerous flats and then ignored orders to improve them has been ordered to pay £174,000 in penalties.

The flats at 60 St Faith's Lane, Norwich, have been boarded up and are now for sale. Photo: ArchantThe flats at 60 St Faith's Lane, Norwich, have been boarded up and are now for sale. Photo: Archant

Nicholas Sutton, director of Faiths Lane Apartments Limited, repeatedly failed to carry out repairs on the shoddy flats at 60 St Faith’s Lane, off Prince of Wales Road.

Norwich City Council hailed the judgement at the Royal Courts of Justice’s Upper Tribunal, which was published yesterday, as “ground-breaking”.

It first received a complaint in December 2017 from a tenant who said his heating was broken and he was “constantly freezing”.

The council visited with the fire service that month, and they raised concerns about the cold as well as fire safety.

The fuse box at 60 St Faith's Lane apartment blocks which residents said they had to keep using to restore electricity after power cuts. Photo: SubmittedThe fuse box at 60 St Faith's Lane apartment blocks which residents said they had to keep using to restore electricity after power cuts. Photo: Submitted

This newspaper also visited and reported on cold and damp conditions in the 47-room block from 2017 onwards.

In January 2018 an engineer inspected the electrics and found 528 defects, the tribunal heard.

The council then handed the landlord eight improvement notices, requiring him to fix defects by the end of June.

When they returned to inspect in July, they found some work had been done, but five of the eight notices had not been met. That included fire and electrical hazards and excess cold.

Nick Sutton, director of Faiths Lane Apartments, which owns the flats at 60 St Faith's Lane. Norwich. Photo: Twitter screenshotNick Sutton, director of Faiths Lane Apartments, which owns the flats at 60 St Faith's Lane. Norwich. Photo: Twitter screenshot

The council accused Mr Sutton of breaching the Housing Act and ordered him and Faiths Lane Apartments to pay £140,000 each. It also banned tenants from living in the building,

But Mr Sutton and his company appealed the ban and the penalties, saying they were excessive.

He told the tribunal he had been the “main loser” out of the development and had “lost a fortune”.

The tribunal reduced the penalties, but still ordered Mr Sutton to pay £99,000 and his company £75,000.

Previous reporting by the Evening News on the landlord behind 60 St Faith's Lane. Image: ArchantPrevious reporting by the Evening News on the landlord behind 60 St Faith's Lane. Image: Archant

It found that rather than improving, conditions at 60 St Faiths Lane got worse during 2018 when the caretaker left.

The judgement said: “We are satisfied that these substantial penalties... Are proportionate to the risks to which the large numbers of residents were exposed over a lengthy period.”

Beth Jones, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for private sector housing, said landlords who did not fulfil their responsibilities had no place in Norwich.

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