Property firm fined for rat-infested homes
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Legal, Local Government, Regulation
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A property firm that allowed its derelict houses to become infested with vermin has been prosecuted.
Quirefast Ltd was also found guilty of not supplying Liverpool City Council with information required under the Town and Country Planning Act.
At a hearing at Liverpool Magistrates' Court, the company was prosecuted under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act, after failing to remove overgrown vegetation and rubbish from the front and rear garden of a house which was providing shelter for rats.
In July 2013, following a complaint, an officer from the council's vacant properties team visited a derelict end terrace house in the Walton area.
When checks found that the property was owned by Quirefast, a notice was served on the firm requiring it to provide details of its interest in the house and the purpose for which it was used.
No response was received to the notice or to a second which was served.
In October last year, another complaint led to an inspection at a terraced house in St David’s Road, Anfield.
The building's windows were broken, there was graffiti on the front door and waste and vegetation had accumulated around the property.
Quirefast Ltd was again identified as the owner of the property. A notice was served giving the company 28 days to remove all the waste and overgrown vegetation and to supply information regarding the ownership of the property.
Once again, no response was received.
In court, district judge Wendy Lloyd found the company guilty in its absence and fined it a total of £400 and awarded the council £1,110 costs.
In a separate case, the court heard that in July 2013 a complaint was received that there were bags of waste in the rear yard of a terraced house in Pickwick Street which had attracted vermin.
Records showed that Leonard Beckford was the owner of the property and that BFI Property Management Ltd trading as Venmore Sales and Letting, Imperial Buildings Dale Street Liverpool was the landlord.
An inspection found that there was an accumulation of waste in the rear yard and an overfilled skip on the pavement in front of the property.
A notice was served, requiring the removal of the waste and securing of the site to prevent fly-tipping, on Beckford and notices requiring details of the owner and anyone with an interest in the property to be supplied to the council within 14 days.
An officer returned a number of times but although the skip was removed the rear yard was not cleared and none of the required information was supplied.
Both BFI Property Management Ltd and Leonard Beckford were found guilty in their absence. BFI was fined £400 and ordered to pay £700 costs, while Beckford was fined £600 with £800 with costs.
The prosecutions were the first of their kind carried out by the council.
Councillor Ann O’Byrne, cabinet member for housing, said: “The blight caused by empty derelict buildings to the local communities is immeasurable and it is part of the Mayoral Pledge to deal with long term vacant houses and engage with owners to bring the properties back into use.
“In these cases our efforts were frustrated and we had no option but to take legal action – this should be a warning to those who let their vacant property go to rack and ruin, engage with us to put the property right or face the consequences.
“Obtaining information about those who own or manage property is not just a bureaucratic exercise. It can be difficult to trace those responsible for property so it is very important that the notices which are issued are complied with so we can get on with tackling these problems quickly.”