Three brothers, whose “negligent and dangerous management” of rented flats above the former Thomas a Becket pub – famed for its boxing links – on the Old Kent Road have been landed with massive fines at Inner London Crown Court.
They were given fines of £37,500 and costs of £16,467.30 – plus a confiscation order of £55,372.96 linked to the proceeds of their crime.
Southwark Trading Standards also found that the company was falsely claiming to be a member of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS)* and also using a SAFEAGENT scheme logo, when it was neither members, nor authorised to use the logos.
A Southwark council statement says: “There is a long history of council intervention at the property and two previous convictions linked to breaches of housing laws that are designed to protect tenants.
“Southwark council visited the property on 31 August 2016; it was a large high risk House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) with three floors of accommodation above a pub/club.
“The fire protection in the accommodation was found to be poorly maintained: the fire alarm system didn’t work, the fire doors were not up to standard and the fire extinguishers had not been tested or maintained.
“Further to this, flats within the property were found to be unlicensed and illegally over occupied.
“A studio flat previously identified by the council as being unsafe for accommodation, was found to be occupied by a couple who were paying £730 a month for rooms that all fell short of the council’s minimum size and contained a bedroom that was internal, with no window, natural light or ventilation.”
The brothers, one of whom is also a director of a fourth defendant company in the case, all pleaded guilty at hearings in 2017. Sentencing was postponed while Southwark ccouncil investigated their proceeds of crime.
The brothers jointly owned 320-322 Old Kent Road, SE1 5EU, and the company was connected with letting flats and rooms above the Thomas a Becket pub, until it was sold in August 2017.
Southwark Trading Standards also found that the company was falsely claiming to be a member of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) and also using a SAFEAGENT scheme logo, when it was neither members, nor authorised to use the logos.
Cllr Victoria Mills, Southwark’s cabinet member for finance, said: “Southwark council will not tolerate rogue landlords who put personal profit before the safety of their tenants.
“This case shows that we will use all tools available to maintain living standards for private renters. “Families and individuals should never live in unsafe, sub-standard and poorly managed flats and crime should never pay.” Source: Southwark council press release)
*NALS (The National Approved Letting Scheme) website says it is an independent, not for profit licensing scheme for lettings and management agents operating in the Private Rented Sector. Established in 1999 by the Empty Homes Agency with the backing of industry organisations such as ARLA and RICS the aim was to establish a single badge for consumers to look for and understand the service and protections a NALS firm offered through adherence to strict licensing criteria.