Following a thorough investigation by Kensington and Chelsea council officers, a landlord and a property management company have been found guilty of jeopardizing the safety of their tenants.
The investigation, which took place in 2021, involved a surprise inspection of a 22-bedroom house of multiple occupation located at Hyde Park Gate. During the inspection, numerous fire and damp risks were uncovered, posing a serious threat to the well-being of the occupants.
As a result of the findings, legal action was taken against Blackstone Properties Management Limited and its director, Mohamed Ali Rasool. This legal action culminated in fines totaling £480,000, in addition to covering the associated costs, imposed by Westminster Magistrate Court. The severity of the penalties reflects the gravity of the safety violations discovered during the council’s investigation, serving as a warning to other property owners and management companies to prioritize the safety and well-being of their tenants.
During a thorough inspection carried out by officers, a multitude of concerning safety and maintenance issues came to light within the property. These issues encompassed various aspects, including the presence of defective and damaged fire doors, insufficient fire separation between bedrooms, and inadequate protection in areas such as the boiler room or lobby. To exacerbate the situation, the property had covered fire alarms and an alarming number of burnt out and loose electrical sockets, posing significant hazards to the tenants’ safety.
In addition to these fire-related concerns, tenants were observed resorting to cooking in their rooms using makeshift camping-style facilities due to the absence of proper kitchen amenities. This not only highlighted the inadequacy of the property but also raised significant safety and hygiene concerns for the residents. Furthermore, the property exhibited signs of rising damp and extensive mold growth, making it an inhospitable and unhealthy living environment.
Another pressing issue was the state of the property’s windows. They were found to be in a state of disrepair, with single-glazed windows featuring rotten frames, draughts, and broken sashes. These window-related problems not only affected the property’s energy efficiency but also compromised the security and comfort of the tenants.
Perhaps the most alarming discovery during the inspection was the extent of dampness within the property. The interior of the building was so damp that it had reached a point where mushrooms were growing on the upper floors. This not only indicated the severe dampness issue but also raised concerns about the structural integrity of the building, as persistent dampness can lead to structural damage over time.
The council’s commitment to improving the housing landscape in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is unwavering. They view privately rented homes as an integral part of the housing mix and acknowledge their significance. However, they emphasize the need for these homes to meet high standards in terms of safety, quality, and overall living conditions.
The landlord licensing schemes introduced by the council are not just punitive measures; they are part of a comprehensive strategy to ensure that all residents have access to safe and well-maintained housing. By identifying and addressing substandard housing, the council aims to create a fairer market for responsible landlords while protecting the rights and safety of tenants.
This approach serves as a valuable resource for landlords as well. The council’s teams are available to assist landlords, offering guidance and solutions to address any concerns or issues they may have with their properties. This collaborative effort promotes a positive and constructive relationship between landlords, tenants, and local authorities, ultimately leading to better living conditions and a stronger housing market in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.