The freeholders to a block of maisonettes have been ordered to pay more than £22,000 after failing to carry out repairs that left leaseholders and tenants living in “squalid and unsafe conditions”.
A leaking roof, damp and mould, and a pigeon infestation were among the problems found at the properties on Whalebone Lane South, Dagenham.
The Islington-based Proposed Company Limited failed to maintain the premises or fix any issues, some of which had been reported more than a decade ago, and also ignored multiple abatement notices issued by Barking and Dagenham Council’s Private Sector Housing Officers.
Representatives from the company, based on Goswell Road, London (EC1V), failed to attend Barkingside Magistrates Court on Tuesday, 18 October. In their absence, they were found guilty and fined £22,000 with a further £150 costs and £190 victim surcharge.
Councillor Syed Ghani, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety, said: “The owners of the building showed a flagrant disregard not just for the law, but for the health and safety of the people forced to live in squalid and unsafe conditions caused by their greed.
“Most private landlords play by the rules in Barking and Dagenham, but we will not tolerate tenants being exploited and when our officers outline failures we expect standards to be raised.”
The council brought the case to court after receiving complaints from residents living in the privately-owned property.
Council officers visited the building, which consists of shops on the ground floor and maisonette flats on the first and second floor, several times between March and August this year.
During their inspections they found a number of serious problems and two abatement notices were issued under section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 – one for a pigeon infestation in the roof and the other for the leaking roof – ordering the freeholder to carry out the necessary repairs within a matter of weeks.
Proposed Company Limited, who purchased the freehold for the building in 1993, ignored the legal notices and failed to carry out any maintenance.
Cllr Ghani added: “We hope this sends a strong message to anyone who hopes to prioritise profit over people that we will take action when necessary.”
Around a quarter of all properties in Barking and Dagenham are privately rented. For more information visit lbbd.gov.uk/housing.