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Council Seizes Control of Property from Rogue Landlord

In a first for Waltham Forest Council the authority has enforced an Interim Management Order (IMO) at an address in Walthamstow, which means it will take over the day-to-day management of the property due to the landlord’s complete refusal to operate responsibly.


Council officers paid an early-morning visit to the property on Overton Road yesterday (13 October) to put the IMO in place, which included changing the lock on the main door and informing tenants that it would now be acting as their landlord with immediate effect. All rent will now be paid to the Council and legal notices have been sent to the owner to make him aware of this.


Cllr Khevyn Limbajee, Cabinet Member for Housing said: “It’s obviously a last resort for us to have to take control of a property away from its owner, but we were given no choice due to this landlord’s poor attitude and lack of concern for the safety of his tenants.


“The majority of landlords operating in Waltham Forest are responsible, but we will not hesitate to take decisive action against the few who think they can get away with ignoring the law and putting their tenants at risk.”


The Council took the decision to implement the IMO at this property as there have been a number of longstanding issues which the owner has made no effort to rectify. The three-storey building was previously licensed as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), however this was revoked in July 2015 due to poor living conditions and overcrowding. The owner made no effort to re-licence the property or improve conditions, and was subsequently prosecuted by the Council earlier this year.


A number of planning breaches still exist at the property, including the top floor which has been converted into a self-contained flat, and a large bed-in-shed in the back garden that was being occupied by four people.


The five separate units in the property are currently accommodating 16 people, including several young children. Despite two rooms in the property currently being empty, tenants in the property were paying total monthly rent in excess of £4,000. Despite raking this in the owner has not paid Council Tax on the property since 2012, and is currently over £4,000 in arrears.


The Council has recorded details of the repairs and improvements required at the property, and will be revisiting the property with a contractor to confirm a price for carrying these out. This, along with any other management costs will be deducted from rent the authority received while it is acting as landlord.


The aim of implementing the IMO is to bring the property up to a good standard so that it can be re-licensed and controlled by a responsible agent. Although the Council does not have a confirmed address for the owner it hopes that he will not come forward to deal with the outstanding breaches and settle any debts.


The Council runs two property licensing schemes, one for mandatory HMOs and one for all other privately rented properties. All privately rented properties in the borough require a licence unless an exemption applies. Both types of licence have conditions attached, which allows the Council to take action if landlords are not operating responsibly.


The use of property licensing is an effective tool in the Council’s efforts to drive up standards in the private rented sector and reduce anti-social behaviour.


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