A landlord has been ordered to pay more than £9,400 after he continued to let a flat – a former bank vault – which inspectors had classed as illegal and dangerous.
Anthony Roy Roe was convicted 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.
The council will also be adding the landlord to the Mayor of London’s rogue landlord database.
Croydon had been made aware of Mr Roe in February 2019 when his tenant contacted council officers about unsafe outdoor stairs with missing steps.
On visiting the basement flat 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 later found the flat was still being rented out after Mr Roe's appeal was dismissed in August that year.
Croydon moved the tenant out of the flat and into emergency accommodation. It later provided financial support to help the tenant move into a private rented place of her own.
At Croydon Crown Court on Friday 15 January, Mr Roe, aged 54, 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 – amounting to £9,434.
The council will apply to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for permission to add Mr Roe to the national rogue landlord database.
Cllr Jane Avis, cabinet member for Croydon Council's homes and Gateway services, said: "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."
Croydon has applied to MHCLG for permission to renew its landlord licensing scheme, which expired last autumn. The scheme, set up in 2015, requires private landlords to meet certain housing standards.
The council claimed the licensing scheme helped resolve thousands of incidents with landlords. Housing inspectors inspected over 13,000 properties, served over 1,000 enforcement notices, issued 75 prohibition orders, and fined or prosecuted over 40 landlords.