A ‘slum’ landlord is set to be the first in the country to be banned, via the conditions on an ASBO, from letting his homes out to vulnerable tenants – namely people on benefits.
David McCabe, 57, a landlord for 30 years, has been fined £28,000 for 28 counts of breaching housing regulations and failing to clean up two of his properties.
Plymouth Magistrates Court heard that he had rented out rotting homes and bedsits full of rubbish to vulnerable people. There were inadequate fire alarms and back gardens were full of clutter. He supplies only the most basic furniture and sometimes not even beds. His tenants were people on benefits, including those with alcohol problems.
Plymouth City Council is launching a pioneering legal application for an Anti-Social Behaviour Order to stop him renting rooms to anyone on housing benefit. The application is due to be heard next month. If it is granted, McCabe will be the second landlord to be given an ASBO: in January 2011, Catherine Boyle, a landlord in Camden, was given an ASBO which stops her from entering her tenant's homes without their permission.
Speaking in court in the latest case, council lawyer Helen Morris said the two houses owned by McCabe were “in a state of Dickensian squalor”.
She said: “They did not meet modern housing standards. These are vulnerable tenants on very limited means.
“The council tried to work with him for many years and he is brought before court as a last resort.”
McCabe denied two allegations of failing to comply with improvement notices from the city council ordering him to carry out work at the homes and 26 other charges. He accused council officers of enlarging photographs of damage and dirt to make them seem worse, and blamed some of the problems on tenants doing their own makeshift repairs or deliberately causing damage.
But magistrates found him guilty on all 28 counts and he was fined £1,000 for each. He must also pay £4,500 towards the council’s costs. The council is to apply for the ASBO next month.
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