News

Croydon landlord prosecuted for breaching prohibition order after tenant found living in a converted bank vault

Thursday, January 28, 2021 - Croydon Council

A landlord who let out a former bank vault as an illegal and dangerous flat has been ordered to pay over £9,400 and will be added to a London list of rogue landlords after being convicted of housing offences.

At Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Friday 15 January, District Judge Nigel McLean convicted Anthony Roy Roe of breaching the order that prohibited anyone from living there. At that time, Croydon Council was also operating a borough-wide selective licensing scheme.

Croydon Council landlord prosecution - dangerous steps 2021

In February 2019 the tenant first contacted council officers about unsafe outdoor stairs with missing steps. On visiting the basement flat – a converted vault from when the building had historically been a former Barclays bank branch – 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.

Croydon Council landlord prosecution 2021

Using powers under the Housing Act 2004, the council issued a prohibition order that prevented anyone from living there. Mr Roe appealed against the order. After his appeal was dismissed in August 2019, the council found the flat was still being rented out.

Once the tenant moved out of the flat in Station Parade, Sanderstead, the council began court proceedings against Mr Roe for breaching the prohibition order and not having a licence. The council found the tenant emergency accommodation and later provided financial support to help her move into a private rented place of her own.

At Croydon Crown Court on Friday 15 January, Mr Roe, aged 54, of Lower Armour Road in Tilehurst, Reading, Berkshire, was convicted in his absence of both breaching 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 breaching the prohibition order, the council’s full costs of £6,624, and a £170 victim surcharge.

Mr Roe will now be added to the Mayor of London’s rogue landlord database. The council will also apply to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for permission to add Mr Roe to the national rogue landlord database.

Councillor Jane Avis, Cabinet member for 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’s borough wide selective licensing scheme ended on 30 September 2020. The council consulted on proposals for a replacement scheme last year and are waiting to hear whether the government will grant approval for the new scheme.

A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing in the London Borough of Croydon is available here.

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