Landlord sentenced over ‘inhumane’ conditions

A landlord based in Southend has been sentenced over the “appalling, deplorable and inhumane” conditions offered to tenants renting a property in Essex.

The landlord Robert Crow was convicted at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court in May 2016 for a total of 15 breaches relating to laws governing Homes of Multiple Occupation (HMO). The judge presiding over the case said that the property had “no place in a modern Britain of today.”

All landlords have a duty to provide adequate standards of accommodation to their tenants. As part of this duty, landlord’s insurance is a requirement of buy-to-let houses, holiday cottages, and other commercial premises. Landlord’s insurance will also cover a wide range of additional circumstances, including property owners’ liability, damage to property and subsistence.

Mr Crow’s property was investigated after multiple warnings from the local council and for refusing entry several times. An enforcement officer eventually obtained a warrant and returned to the property with five police officers in August last year.

Inside, they found a man sleeping in a room with no windows, exposed electrical wires and two people who were living under a tarpaulin in the garden at the back of the property. Additionally, the property was in such a bad condition that it was described as squalid.

What’s more, the only fire exit was blocked with items of furniture, and a gas boiler lay dormant with no safety certificate. Some rooms were also inaccessible because of the clutter.

Mr Crow was fined £35,000 and told to pay £4,000 in court costs.

Andrew Fiske, a council housing manager, said: “Our enforcement officer who led the case said it was one of the worst they had seen in their professional career, and so this prosecution was vital and is welcomed.

“No-one should have to be living in conditions like this, and this has been recognised by the courts with a large fine that reflects the seriousness of the offences.”