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UK's first ASBO landlord put tenants at risk, court told

A woman with the dubious distinction of being Britain’s first ASBO landlord has been in trouble again.

Catherine Boyle, 59, of Iverson Road, London NW6, was served with an ASBO on January 19, 2011.

Her ASBO, which lasts two years, prohibits her from causing harassment, alarm or distress to her tenants, entering their rooms without consent and cutting off their gas and electricity. In August 2010, she had been cautioned for common assault against one of her tenants.

She has now been ordered to pay fines and costs of £8,074.60 for putting tenants at risk by failing to comply with fire regulations for a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in a prosecution by Camden Council.

Boyle was found guilty of failing to carry out works specified in an Improvement Notice and four breaches of fire-related HMO regulations. She was also found to be in breach of her HMO licence by providing her tenants with non fire-retardant furniture.

The Improvement Notice served in April 2011 required Boyle to carry out extensive works to deal with serious hazards in relation to excess cold, entry by intruders, damp, fire, food safety, and falls. The work was required to have taken place by November 2011, but when Camden’s inspectors visited in January this year the work had not been completed. 

Boyle was given further time to comply, but a visit in May showed that the fire detection and alarm system was not connected to a power supply, fire doors were inadequate and furniture was still non fire-retardant. The HMO had poor thermal efficiency because there was a lack of insulation to the roof and walls and the single glazed windows were in a terrible state of repair allowing for draughts.

Highbury magistrates said they were concerned about the serious offences which put tenants at risk, fining Boyle £3,600, a victim support contribution of £15 and the council’s costs of £4,459.60. She was required to pay the amount within four months and was reminded that the works were still outstanding, putting her at risk of a further prosecution by Camden Council.

Camden’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Julian Fulbrook, said: “Living in a cold, damp home has a negative impact on people’s health, including increased risk of hypothermia, respiratory illness, heart attack and strokes, underweight infants, social isolation and financial stress. In 2010/11 it was estimated excess winter deaths nationally were 25,700.

“We inspect all our HMOs regularly to make sure they comply with all health and safety regulations so that tenants are safe in their homes. 

“In the most serious cases we have the power to revoke an HMO licence and take over the running of the properties ourselves.”

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