A NEWPORT landlord has been fined more than £7,000 for failing to comply with housing regulations.

Mark Fouweather, of Christchurch, pleaded guilty to 12 offences including breaching an emergency prohibition order by failing to stop tenants living at 56 Church Road, in Newport, while repair work was being carried out.

Environmental health officers first visited the property in April last year after being alerted to its poor condition by a tenant.

They found that the property failed to ensure that fire exits were maintained, that stair coverings were safely fixed, that the internal structure, windows and all common parts were in a good order and that the property manager's name and address were displayed.

An emergency prohibition order was hand-delivered to Fouweather, 44, but on a second inspection, evidence was found that two tenants were still living in the property.

Fouweather had pleaded guilty to six of the offences at an earlier hearing and added six further guilty pleas, five of which are for the same offences on a different day, during his hearing at Newport Magistrates' Court yesterday.

Solicitor Mike Heames, defending, told the court: "Can I say first and foremost Mr Fouweather purchased this property in 2004 and for 10 years successfully operated a multiple occupancy.

"The property has always been in good order. It comes as some surprise, suddenly what's gone wrong? That's the big question."

Mr Heames told the court of a previous tenant, who had been evicted by Fouweather.

Mr Heames said: "Mr Fouweather had changed the locks but that didn't stop him. He waited outside until someone opened the door and he trashed the place."

He added that it was the evicted tenant who alerted environmental health to the property in a bid to be re-homed by Newport City Council.

He also said that Fouweather, a structural engineer who had recently lost his job, had begun to carry out the work highlighted in the first inspection when officers re-visited the property and that he did not know that two of his tenants were living there as he had asked them to relocate.

"Out of the blue this damage was done," Mr Heames added. "Really and truthfully, Mr Fouweather found himself in an impossible situation."

He was fined £2,000 for failing to maintain fire exits and £2,700 for breaching the emergency prohibition order, which can only be made if a property presents an imminent risk of serious harm to its occupants.

He was also told to pay £2,537 in prosecution fees and £120 victim surcharge.