A LANDLORD is being prosecuted by Southend Council after concerns about one of his properties were exposed by the Echo.

Alfred Katona, 75, of Chadwick Road, Westcliff, has been summonsed to court accused of five breaches of housing laws.

An Echo investigation raised concerns about fire safety and maintenance at a former hotel he rented to four vulnerable tenants in Station Road, Westcliff.

The summonses centre around allegations that: ! A fire exit was padlocked and tenants had no keys, smoke alarms were faulty, another exit was partially blocked and fire extinguishers were not stored properly.

! Amanhole cover allowed rats to enter the property, while water tanks and a toilet were balanced on bits of wood.

! Electrical wires and light fittings were loose, while wallpaper and carpets were torn and windows cracked.

! Water from a hand basin could run on to electrical fittings, there was damp in a living room, a hole in a roof and ill-fitting skylights.

! Mr Katona failed to provide his contact details in the lobby of the property.

Mr Katona, an over-sixties international tennis player, already faces paying £400 to cover council costs after it served him with a prohibition order, banning him from letting out any rooms at the Station Road property unless maintenance work is done.

The council is also investigating a further nine properties let out by Mr Katona and has already demanded building and maintenance improvements are carried out at four of them.

It is considering what action to take over three others and is expected to inspect the final two premises this month.

Mr Katona has since complied with the prohibition order.

A council spokesman said: “The council is prosecuting Mr Katona for non-compliance with House of Multiple Occupation management regulations.

“The property is now empty and can only be re-let once the council is satisfied remedial work has been carried out.

“The tenants at the time were assisted by a number of council departments, including social care.”

The Echo investigation, in September, prompted the council to examine his entire property portfolio, which has been rented out since the Eighties.

The spokesman added: “Inspections of a further seven properties have been carried out with the consent of Mr Katona, resulting in four Improvement notices and two Building Act notices being issued on four of the properties.

“Appropriate enforcement action on the other three is currently being assessed.” Martin Terry, Southend Council Independent group leader, said: “Well done to the Echo for exposing this property.

“It also shows the council will take swift action once it knows these problems are out there.”

Mr Katona declined to comment.

He is due to appear at Southend Magistrates’ Court later this month.