Bed-bug infestation leads to prosecution for landlord of illegal and dangerous HMO in Harrow
Harrow pest control operatives asked to treat a bed-bug infestation at a property in Headstone Drive, Harrow were astounded to find nine people living in dangerous housing conditions. Their routine visit uncovered an illegal and dangerous House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) which they reported to the council’s private sector housing team.
Further investigations revealed the landlord, Paul Ettienne, 46, had unlawfully crammed himself with his tenants into a structurally unsafe loft space with just one toilet and no wash hand basin. Around the flat, housing enforcement officers found overloaded sockets, no smoke detector and gaps in the stairway.
Blankets, board and other flammable material were being used to even out the attic flat.
That wasn’t all, Ettienne wanted an easy fix so used parcel tape to try and secure and draught-proof a defective double glazed window.
Officers also found dirty kitchen water draining into a bin because the sink had no proper drainage pipework.
Housing enforcement officers immediately issued an emergency prohibition order to prevent the property from being occupied. After the landlord ignored the order, the council decided to prosecute.
An improvement notice was also served for hazards of fire safety, excess cold, falls on the level and electrical hazards, bu the landlord did not comply.
At Willesden Magistrates Court, Mr Ettienne was convicted of three offences of failing to obtain an HMO licence, failing to comply with an Improvement Notice and failing to comply with an Emergency Prohibition Order. He was ordered to pay £6,000 in fines, £5,000 in court costs and a £175 victim surcharge.
We understand the council is looking to take further enforcement action as Mr Ettienne still hasn’t licenced the property.
Cllr Varsha Parmar, portfolio holder for environment, Harrow Council said:
“I don’t know who is the lowest form of life here – the bed-bugs, or the man who’d put his tenants at risk of death, simply for his own profit. We’re going to stamp out this sort of behaviour – so if you know a parasite who needs a visit from us, we promise to give them the full treatment.“
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