The landlord of a Cricklewood flat is almost £18,000 worse off and has a criminal record after being punished in court for refusing to make vital renovations to his rental property.
Paul Fenton, who lives in the affluent Hertfordshire village of Radlett, pleaded guilty at Willesden Magistrates Court to offences under the Housing Act 2006, having failed to explain how the flat that he was letting for £1,000 per month had fallen into such a bad state.
The property on Walm Lane in Cricklewood had such severe damp and mould growth throughout that the chair of magistrates said it was not fit to live in. Amongst other problems, it also had a dilapidated, leaking boiler and a rotting front door.
After the flat's tenant approached Brent Council to complain about its condition, enforcement officers inspected the flat in August 2015 and found a host of deficiencies and hazards. Mr Fenton was issued with a formal demand from the council which required him to repair the damage within 56 days. Council officers returned to the flat in both January and May this year and confirmed that the repairs had not been done.
Mr Fenton, who has owned the flat since 1990, claimed that he had not been inside it for years and assumed the tenants were happy with its condition as they had not asked him for help with repairs. He went on to say that he assumed that the cheap rent and the fact that he had allowed the tenants to break their tenancy agreement by keeping a dog and running a business from the flat meant that they were happy with the situation.
The case was delayed as the defendant claimed that he was not sure of his income and he had not even completed his means form, but eventually the court fined him £16,000 and ordered him to pay costs of £1,573 and a victim surcharge of £120 - a total of £17,693.
Cllr Harbi Farah, Brent Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "The dreadful conditions found at this flat reaffirm once again how important our private sector licencing scheme is. Slumlords like Mr Fenton should not be allowed to get away with treating their tenants like this. Brent is committed to supporting tenants by prosecuting unscrupulous landlords who are happy to under maintain and over crowd their properties."
Mr Fenton is appealing against his prosecution.
Most private landlords in Brent are legally required to obtain a licence from the council. You can find out more at www.brent.gov.uk/prslicensing.