Court hears of house’s appalling condition

Law gavel

A house in Kensington was in “an appalling and dangerous state of repair” which put tenants at risk a court heard.

John O’Boy of  Poole Terrace Dublin,  MIDAS Property Management Ltd and its managing director ,Peter Anthony Doherty, of Sandfield Park , West Derby, were found guilty between them of 52 breaches of safety regulations.

At the end of January Environmental Health Officers visited the three storey house in Kensington, which contained five flats, as the result of a complaint from the tenant regarding a constant leak from the roof space, damp walls and mould growth 

The tenant said that the landlord was MIDAS Property Management Ltd and he had complained to them repeatedly but nothing had been done.

On inspection the flat was found to be in a very poor condition.  The electric meter had severed electrical wiring which the officers did not know if it was  live or not.  There was excessive damp and mould spores in the walls and ceiling of the bathroom and there was rot which was so bad that the shower cubicle had dropped and was unsafe to use. 

The tenant said the boiler only worked intermittently. There was no safety record and an engineer, who had come out, said that it was not safe to use but no work had been carried out.  On examination of the boiler the officers found that the flue clamp at the elbow joint was loose and taped up with what appeared to be masking tape with the potential for a carbon monoxide leaking back into the property and the flue itself was poorly maintained. 

The rear yard was full of bricks due to the collapse of part of the wall and the integrity of the remaining wall could not be guaranteed. 

Officers also found that the basement was open to access by tenants and visitors and was full of rubbish including old mattresses and bedding.  There was no hand rail to basement staircase and there were missing steps.

Among other failing the officers noted that the automatic fire alarm had had its fuse removed so there was no coverage for entire building.  There were no contact details for the manager of the property.

Contact was made with  MIDAS Property Management and  the Managing Director Peter Doherty  Following this an email was received from Mr Doherty saying that he had given the owner , John O’Boy,  notice that he was no longer the managing agent for the property.

Further visits were made in February when a bedroom in another flat was found to be uninhabitable due to a leak in the roof which had caused holes in the ceiling and  fallen bricks from the chimney stack.  There was damp and mould in the kitchen and the tenant had constructed a makeshift method to collect the rainwater that leaked in. 

The rear bedroom of a third flat was found to have damp to the external wall and ceiling and there were loose ceramic tiles to the ceiling of the bathroom.

The fire alarm was still inoperable and the chimney stack, which they had been unable to view on previous occasions because of snow, was bulging, and leaning.

In giving evidence, Doherty denied that he was managing the property saying that he only collected the rent and that he had repeatedly told O’Boy of the state of the property and that when he had asked for money to carry out repairs O’Boy had refused.

O’Boy did not give evidence but made a statement that he was a foreign national and  had left the property in the hands of MIDAS and expected them to manage it along with over 10 other properties he had  in the Liverpool area.

District Judge Miriam Shelvey said that Doherty was not a credible witness and there were many inconsistencies in his evidence.  She stated that the property was in an appalling and dangerous state of repair, she had seen the pictures of the property and in her opinion such appalling living conditions could only be injurious to health. 

She added that both defendants as owner and manager badly neglected their duties and that it was staggering that people were forced to live in such conditions.

O’Boy was fined £8,700 and ordered to pay £3,205 costs, MIDAS Property Management Ltd was fined £3,600 and Doherty was fined £3,300 and ordered to pay costs of £3025.

Councillor Ann O’Byrne, cabinet member for housing, said “The court has recognised these offences as very serious.  These tenants were vulnerable adults with many problems which could only have been exacerbated by their appalling living conditions. That any landlord or managing agent in this day and age should believe that it was acceptable to put their tenants’ at risk in this way is beyond belief and this sends a strong warning that Liverpool is not a place where we’ll let you get away with it”