'Death trap' property landlord fined
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Legal, Local Government
A landlord who let a property condemned as a "death trap" to families with young children has been fined £22,000.
Barnet Council's environmental health officers discovered a catalogue of dangerous problems inside the property on Finchley Lane, Hendon after receiving a call from a concerned neighbour.
The officers found that rubbish had accumulated outside of the property, flammable materials were found under the stairs, and electric extension leads were extensively used as a result of seriously defective electrical installation.
The macerator, which had been installed to remove waste from the outbuildings via a flexible hose to an open inspection chamber, had been disconnected leaving the occupiers of an outbuilding without drainage for their toilet facilities.
In the main house, which had been converted into bedsits, officers found:
• A leak to the kitchen ceiling resulting in its partial collapse.
• The casing around the gas central heating in a dangerous condition.
• A second shower room with a broken shower tray being used for washing crockery.
• Major disrepair to the walls of the shower room with broken and missing wall and floor tiles.
• The back garden was overgrown with piles of rubbish building up around the property including a mattress lying across the open manhole.
• An excessive amount of flammable materials stored in the cupboard underneath the staircase and defective smoke detectors.
There was also evidence of wall sockets overheating and electric inspection lamps replacing the conventional ceiling lights’, making the whole place a fire trap for the 10 people living inside.
The council’s environmental health and planning enforcement teams successfully prosecuted owners BDB Developments Limited before Willesden Magistrates' Court in September. The landlord was fined £10,000 plus £6,172 costs for using the property as a house in multiple occupation and using the two outbuildings as residential units.
A warrant was issued for the arrest of the manager of the property, Mr Shamal Najim, after he failed to attend court. At a hearing in November he was fined £12,000 in his absence with costs of £5,072.56 and a £100 victim surcharge.
In deciding the level of fine the court took into account the fact that Najim would have been earning approximately £200 a month in rent per unit and that there were six adults and four children, including a nine-month-old baby, living in the house.
Councillor Tom Davey, cabinet member for housing, said: “Everyone is entitled to live in a home that is safe. The owner and landlord of this property felt it was appropriate to let out these bedsits to tenants in the most appalling conditions.
"They were nothing short of a death trap. Such behaviour tarnishes the reputation of landlords doing a good job. Barnet Council will not hesitate to take the appropriate action to ensure that poor landlords do not evade their responsibilities and put tenants at risk.”