A Hendon landlord who let out a room that Bilbo Baggins would struggle to get into has been fined a total of £3040 after being taken to court by Barnet Council.
The attic room, which is only accessible to an adult by crawling on all fours up a staircase, was clearly in breach of so many safety rules it was positively dangerous.
Barnet’s Environmental Health team discovered that the low ceiling above the staircase and small entrance hatch made it impossible for adult tenants to reach the room while standing upright, raising concerns it could impede their escape in the event of a fire.
Head height along the course of the staircase was found to only be between 0.7 and 1.2m, and the door to the room was also reduced in size.
At Willesden Magistrates’ Court, landlord Yaakov Marom, of Sunningfields Road, Hendon, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with an order served by the council prohibiting occupation of the loft room.
Marom was ordered to pay a £1,500 fine, £1,420 in costs and a victim surcharge of £120.
The court hearing came after Barnet Council officers visited the house with police officers in September 2013 and discovered that the room was still in use and being rented by a couple for £420 a month.
Last year, Barnet Council investigated more than 970 reports of poor conditions in the borough.
The council said that they work closely with landlords to improve the conditions of their properties, but when this is not possible, legal action can be taken which may lead to prosecution or work being completed and costs being passed on to the landlord.
Councillor Tom Davey, Chairman of the Housing Committee, said: “At the very least tenants have the right to expect that the accommodation they are renting is safe.
“Barnet Council is keen to work with landlords and help them to provide safe accommodation.
“However, those who exploit tenants for financial gain will not be tolerated and the appropriate action will be taken.”