Council prosecutes landlord over fire risk flat

A man who let out a former bank vault as an illegal and dangerous flat has been ordered to pay over £9,400 and will be added to a London list of rogue landlords after being convicted of housing offences.

At Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Friday, District Judge Nigel McLean convicted Anthony Roy Roe of failing to apply to Croydon Council’s borough-wide landlord licensing scheme and breaking a council prohibition order against renting out the flat to a lone tenant.

In February 2019 the tenant first contacted council officers about unsafe outdoor stairs with missing steps. On visiting the basement flat – a converted vault from when the building had historically been a former Barclays bank branch – inspectors also found Category 1 hazards relating to fire safety, lighting and excess heat. These included no fire escape route except through the kitchen, a lack of natural light as there were no windows in the living room or bedroom, and no natural ventilation.

Using powers under the Housing Act, the council classed the flat as unfit to live in and issued a prohibition order. However, the council found the flat was still being rented out after Mr Roe’s appeal was dismissed in August that year.

Once the tenant moved out of the flat in Station Parade, Sanderstead, the council began court proceedings against Mr Roe for both breaking the prohibition order and not having a licence. The council found the tenant emergency accommodation and later provided financial support to help her move into a private rented place of her own.

At Croydon Crown Court on Friday 15 January, Mr Roe, aged 54, of Lower Armour Road in Tilehurst, Reading, Berkshire, was convicted in his absence of both breaking the prohibition order and failure to license the property via the landlord licensing scheme. Mr Roe was ordered to pay a £2,640 fine for breaking the prohibition order, the council’s full costs of £6,624, and a £170 victim surcharge.

Mr Roe will now be added to the Mayor of London’s rogue landlord database. The council will also apply to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for permission to add Mr Roe to the national rogue landlord database.

Croydon’s landlord licensing scheme, set up in 2015 to raise housing standards in the private rented sector and fully funded through licence fees, expired last autumn and the council has applied to MHCLG for permission to renew it.

“This flat wasn’t just an unsuitable place to live; it was an illegal and potentially lethal firetrap, so I’m glad the tenant flagged her concerns to us.

“We set up our selective licensing scheme in Croydon so private tenants could have safe and good-quality homes, and this prosecution underlines why we’ve asked government for permission to renew it.”

Councillor Jane Avis, cabinet member for homes and Gateway services

2021-01-19T16:02:13+00:00 January 19th, 2021|Recent news|