Rogue Stevenage landlord fined over attic fire hazard

PUBLISHED: 08:28 22 January 2019

Archant

A rogue landlord has been fined for breaching a prohibition order and allowing an excessively cold attic with a serious fire safety hazard to be lived in.

Stevenage Borough Council made a prohibition order in November 2014 under the Housing Act 2004, prohibiting the occupation of the attic room at a property in 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, amounting to Category 1 hazards under the Housing Act 2004.

Environmental health officers carried out an inspection of the property on July 19, 2018, acting on information received by the council which suggested the attic room was being lived in.

During the inspection, officers found 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 was deemed a serious safety risk.

It had been constructed within a cupboard and was excessively steep, with no handrails, and no guard at the top of the stairs.

Officers also found required improvements to the heating and insulation within the attic room had not been made.

The property owner, Nasif Botros, has been prosecuted under Section 32 of the Housing Act 2004, for contravening the prohibition order.

At a hearing at Luton Magistrates’ Court he was found guilty in his absence and fined £1,760. He was also ordered to pay SBC’s full legal costs of £2,571.45 and a victim surcharge of £170.

The council has been using new powers to deal with rogue landlords. They allow civil penalty notices to be served, with fines of up to £30,000.

Councillor Jeannette Thomas, SBC’s executive member for housing, 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.

“We will not tolerate the few landlords who provide substandard accommodation and have a disregard for the health and safety of tenants.

“The council will continue to use enforcement action such as prosecution, civil penalty notices, banning orders and rent repayment orders to deal with unscrupulous landlords.”

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