Housing chiefs want magistrates to outlaw a landlord from letting bedsits to vulnerable tenants after he was fined £28,000 for breaching HMO rules.
Plymouth City Council is trying to persuade the courts to give David McCabe an ASBO stopping him letting rooms to anyone on housing benefits.
The court was told McCabe allowed his tenants to live in ‘Dickensian squalor’ and that his two HMO shared houses in the city flouted modern housing standards.
McCabe, 57, denied failing to carry out essential works on the properties after ignoring two improvement notices served by the council. He also pleaded not guilty to 28 health and safety breaches at the properties.
He was fined £1,000 on each charge and ordered to pay £4,500 costs.
The court was told McCabe favoured single men as tenants – most claimed housing benefits and many had issues with drinking.
A council team visited both properties, they reported a catalogue of problems, including:
- Substandard fire safety equipment
- Rubbish littering rear gardens
- Dirty floors and rotten woodwork
McCabe said he had been a landlord for 30 years and accused the council of bringing petty complaints and enlarging photographs to make the damage and dirt look worse.
He shifted the blame for some of the maintenance issues to tenants carrying out unauthroised repairs or damaging their homes.
Councillor Chris Penberthy, the council’s cabinet member for cooperatives and community development, said: “We work with landlords and landlords’ representatives and the majority do keep their properties in good order.
“They expect us to take action against poor landlords who undermine their reputation and that of the private rented sector generally.”
McCabe will return to court for the ASBO hearing.
- Landlord Catherine Boyle, 59, was served with an ASBO in January 2011 to stop her harassing tenants in an HMO she ran in Camden, North London, in what was believed to be the first anti-social behaviour order taken against a private landlord.