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Landlord is ordered to improve his properties
6:00am Thursday 12th December 2013 in News
A LANDLORD exposed by the Echo for housing vulnerable tenants in squalid conditions has been ordered to improve seven more of his rental properties.
Southend Council investigated about ten houses in the borough which are managed by landlord Alfred Katona and converted to bedsits, after the Echo highlighted faults at one of his properties, in Station Road, Westcliff.
Housing enforcement officers checked the houses, sometimes accompanied by police, and found one property on the verge of collapse, and problems with heating, electrical cables and fire safety.
Mr Katona’s properties, mainly in Westcliff, have all now been inspected and, as a result, officials have served seven notices ordering improvements to be made.
The council has declined to name the properties, but confirmed properties in Gainsborough Drive and Grosvenor Road, Westcliff, owned by Mr Katona would require action in the new year.
Many of his tenants are people who were previously homeless or mental health patients and are in receipt of about £100 a week housing benefit from the council.
Marion Anthony, the council’s private- sector housing enforcement officer, who carried out some of the inspections, said: “The issues varied at each property, but there were some common problems, such as excessive cold, electrical wiring and a couple of fire-safety issues. Building regulations issues were also identified, including a damaged soil pipe. In one case, there was a risk of structural collapse, as a chimney breast had been removed and was not supported.
“The serving of each notice costs the council £400, so the total cost to us is £2,800, but this will be recovered from the property owner.”
She said Mr Katona would have to complete the work by end end of January to avoid further action.
At one house, in Gainsborough Drive, Westcliff, which is split into two flats, police were asked along because of concerns about a tenant.
A council spokesman said: “Our private-sector housing and building control officers inspected the property with police attendance.
Improvement notices were served on each of the flats, requiring mitigation of the hazards found.”
Mr Katona, who lives in Chadwick Road, Westcliff, declined to comment.
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