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Rogue landlord falls foul of the Council

16 Jan 2019

Stevenage Borough Council made a Prohibition Order on 3 November 2014 under the Housing Act 2004, prohibiting the occupation of the attic room at 40 The Noke, Stevenage.
 
The Order was made due to the poor standard of works to convert the attic to habitable accommodation, which had resulted in a serious fire safety hazard and one of excess cold, which amounted to category 1 hazards under the Housing Act 2004.
 
Environmental Health Officers carried out an inspection of the property on 19 July 2018, acting on information received by the Council which suggested that the attic room was in occupation. During the inspection, officers found that the attic room was occupied in contravention of the prohibition order.
 
Although some fire safety improvements had been made, the staircase leading up to the attic room was deemed a serious safety risk, as it had been constructed within a cupboard and was excessively steep, with no handrails, and no guarding above the staircase opening. Officers also found that required improvements to the heating and insulation within the attic room had not been made.
 
As a result, the property owner, Mr Nasif Botros, was prosecuted under Section 32 of the Housing Act 2004, for the offence of contravening a prohibition order.
 
At a hearing at Luton Magistrates’ Court on 19 December 2018 he was found guilty in his absence.  He received a fine of £1,760 and was ordered to pay the council’s full legal costs of £2,571.45 as well as a victim surcharge of £170.
 
The council has been using new powers that came into force in April 2017, to deal with rogue landlords. This has allowed the serving of Civil Penalty notices as an alternative to prosecution for specific offences with fines of up to £30 000.
 
Cllr Jeannette Thomas, Executive Member for Housing, Health and Older People for Stevenage Borough Council, said: “The majority of landlords in Stevenage provide a good standard of accommodation and much needed housing; these are the landlords we want to keep and encourage to Stevenage.
 
“We will not tolerate the few landlords who provide substandard accommodation and have a disregard for the health and safety of tenants. However, Stevenage Borough Council will continue to use enforcement action such as prosecution, civil penalty notices, banning orders and rent repayment orders to deal with unscrupulous landlords.”