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Council seizes property to save tenants from raw sewage and cockroaches

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Council seizes property to save tenants from raw sewage and cockroaches

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing

Council seizes property to save tenants from raw sewage and cockroaches Council seizes property to save tenants from raw sewage and cockroaches

Camden Council has stepped in to protect 17 tenants living in a dangerous and cockroach-infested property.

Environmental health officers even discovered a pool of raw sewage in the filthy, and inappropriately named, Happy Vale Hotel.

An interim management order (IMO) was served on the Mornington Crescent premises earlier this month, and the council, which has taken over day-to-day management of the property, will begin a programme of emergency repairs to make it safe.

During the inspection that followed the IMO, officers found:

• A pool of raw sewage discovered in a previous inspection had returned, causing a floor to rot and collapse.
• Severe cockroach and mouse infestations in bedrooms, bathrooms and food preparation areas.
• Fire doors wedged open and much of the emergency lighting not working properly.
• Extensive disrepair, including fractured shower trays in residents’ rooms.


The action was taken after the owner, Stephen Paul Gethin, was found guilty of managing an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO) and convicted of 14 other housing offences in April.

He was ordered to pay a fine and costs of more than £20,000 and the council gave him five additional weeks to find someone else to take over the management of the property, as he was not considered fit to carry out this role.

When no one was put forward a decision was taken to serve the IMO.

Subject to any appeals, the council may seek to obtain a final management order (FMO), which will allow it to manage the letting and refurbishment of the property for five years, and spend money received from rent on repairs and improvements.

In 2009, the council became the first in the country to use an FMO to take over the management of a poorly managed property when it took over at a cockroach and mice-infested home in Kilburn High Road.

Councillor Julian Fulbrook, cabinet member with responsibility for housing, said: “A shortage of good quality and affordable accommodation is one of our biggest challenges in Camden and I want to do everything we can to improve standards and reduce housing inequality
.
“Five years ago, Camden led the way nationally in using these powers to protect residents living in unacceptable and dangerous conditions. Following the successful use of the powers ever since, we had no hesitation in taking action in this case. The conditions the residents of this property have had to endure are atrocious. Our intervention will ensure their health and wellbeing is no longer put at risk.”

Residents will remain at Happy Vale Hotel, should they wish to do so, while emergency repairs are carried out.

They have been offered advice and support from the council’s temporary accommodation group and housing options and adult social care teams.

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