Property Guardians Let Renters Live in Slum Care Home
A property guardianship firm that shoehorned tenants into a derelict care home has been fined for breaking house in multiple occupation rules.
Camelot Guardian Management Company stopped squatters from moving into the commercial property by encouraging tenants to live in the empty properties in return for reduced rents.
But council housing officers were appalled when they found 30 tenants living in a ‘slum’ with blocked fire escapes, overflowing sewers and a room full of containers of foul-smelling clinical waste.
The company had no HMO licence for the property and committed health and safety offences.
Although the company was convicted of 15 HMO offences at Colchester Magistrates Court, the court was limited to imposing a nominal fine of £100 for each as the company went into administration before the hearing.
The court also ordered the company should pay £10,000 costs.
Online estate agent Claire Ainsworth was convicted of fraud in her absence at Blackburn Magistrates Court. She took £5,000 from a home's sale after inflating the buyer's price.
Letting agent Masons Estates (East Anglia) and directors Jay and Ralph Bernard were ordered to pay fines and costs of £25,357 for allowing tenants to live in an unsafe and unlicensed HMO.
The home had dangerous electrical wiring, missing smoke detectors, poorly maintained water supply and drainage, filthy floors, unsafe sockets, unsafe light fittings, dangerous stairways and rubbish in the garden.
After denying the charges, the directors and the company were found guilty of 17 HMO offences. In defending, Ian Persaud told the court neither director nor the firm knew about the state of the property.
"These cases normally concern defendants who knew something should have been done and failed to deal with it," he said.
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