18 Mar 2021

A landlord and agent must pay more than £300,000 after housing 18 people in squalid conditions.

Bristol City Council officers had “serious concerns” for the safety of the residents – including six children – of 24 Lower Ashley Road in St Agnes.

Adam Habane, 51, of Dove Street, and Lloyd Beckford, 60, of Lower Ashley Road, ran the building as a house in multiple occupation (HMO), splitting it into seven flats.

Habane was fined three times! Firstly as himself: found guilty of seven offences: fined £66,000, costs £1,257.93, victim surcharge £181, Habane was fined again as as a director of Ashley Marketing Services, guilty of five offences: fines £51,000, costs £1,257.93, and yet again Habane was fined as a director of Eunickcareltd, guilty of five offences: fines £51,000, costs £1,015.31.

Lloyd Beckford was found guilty of five offences as a director of Letting agency Eunickcare Ltd: with fines of £51,000, costs £1,015.31, victim surcharge £181.

Letting agency Eunickcare Ltd was found guilty of five offences: and fined £52,000, costs £1,015.31, victim surcharge £181.

Finally, letting agents Ashley Marketing Services Ltd was fond guilty of five offences: fined £56,000, costs £1,257.93, victim surcharge £181.

The council’s private housing team visited the property in September 2019, finding 18 residents living in the “poorly converted” HMO.

A council spokesperson said: “The property was discovered to be in very poor repair and poorly managed, with particular concerns for the safety of the occupants due to the absence of operating fire alarm systems.

“The concern was so great that, as a precautionary measure, the council provided battery operated smoke detectors to the property that day.”

The team found “cramped filthy bathrooms, holes in the ceilings and hallways which meant fire and smoke could easily pass within the flats, as well as obstructed fire escapes, doors that did not shut or lock”.

They also identified “inadequate damaged kitchens and electrical systems in poor repair, also uncovered”. The council deemed these to be breaches of management regulations.

“Following the visit numbers living there reduced and the families moved on or were rehoused,” the spokesperson added.

“The council continued with additional enforcement action under the Housing Act 2004 which ultimately prohibited the property for occupation.

“While this work was in progress, in March 2020, council officers returned to the property after a complaint from the occupants that there was no hot water or heating available. “The inspection revealed conditions to be much the same with, in addition, the boiler not working adequately or safely to provide heating and hot water to all of the flats, in breach of management regulations.

“Despite a request for gas and electricity safety certificates to be provided within seven days, none were received.”

Habane and Beckford appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on March 9. They were found guilty of poor management of a HMO and failure to provide information about the property.

Total fines and costs of £334,500 were handed to the companies managing the property, Ashley Marketing Services and Eunicareltd Ltd, and their directors Habane and Beckford.

Councillor Helen Godwin, cabinet member for women, children and homes, said: “We are committed to protecting people in private housing against the risks posed by poor property management and unacceptable conditions.

“This case illustrates clearly that we will use appropriate powers to prosecute those who put tenants in danger through their own neglect or sub-standard practices.”

The council spokesperson said: “Management regulations are designed to ensure tenants live in safe, clean and acceptable conditions with access to the amenities they need and are aware of how to contact their landlord should a problem arise.

“This includes systems crucial to the safety of the occupiers, such as gas and electrical systems as well as the fire safety systems. Landlords must adhere to these regulations which ensures standards are met and maintained.”

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