This shockingly squalid house in Clapham had an electricity cable running through a tree branch, here growing inside the property.
Originally a three-bedroom terrace home it was illegally converted into flats housing up to eight people, who all had to share a single toilet and bath.
The landlords were charging tenants £100 per week for this appalling accommodation, and the council estimate the greedy landlords were making around £40,000 a year in rent.
The house in Rectory Gardens had been licensed to a housing association on a “short-life” basis in the 1970s when the council was unable to pay for renovations, following a period of under-investment in council housing that left the borough with repair bills that outstripped their means.
The agreement on this property seems to have continued for decades without a clear management structure. The state of the house was only uncovered because the council is implementing a programme to reclaim more than forty buildings which are still operating under the short-life scheme.
Councillor Matthew Bennett, cabinet member for housing, said: “It is shocking that someone can make money exploiting people by illegally renting out such dangerous accommodation with no regard for the safety of the people living there.”
Lambeth Council have stated that they are considering whether to take action. Surely it is a “no-brainer”? Any council discovering this type of exploitation should definitely take action over such appalling disregard for tenants’ welfare.
We hear so much about rogue tenants and how terrible it is that landlords have to put up with damage and disruption from their tenants, and of course if you are unlucky enough to fall foul of a really bad tenant then it is distressing.
However landlords like these give the whole letting industry a bad name.
Sadly we have found there are unscrupulous landlords all over London. Some allow tenants to believe they have accepted their offer on a property only to let them down last minute if a better financial offer comes in. This is distressing for tenants who then fear being made homeless while they were acting in good faith.
Riley Marshall steer clear from any landlords or tenants who are unethical and do not approach letting arrangements in a professional manner. We believe that the best way to conduct any letting deal is to be open and honest, and to stick by your word when a offer is agreed, and we are pleased to confirm that this is the intention of the great majority of our landlord and tenants.
We also take steps to ensure that HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) properties are registered and meet the necessary criteria to ensure tenants’ safety.
We believe no self-respecting agent would allow a landlord to let a property in this condition. HMO legislation is supposed to do away with these types of living conditions for tenants and Lambeth have failed their residents by not preventing it.
Now it is time for them to step up to the mark and make an example of them, to send a strong message to rogue landlords that this type of behaviour is not acceptable.
Anyone who is prepared to let another human being live in a property in this condition (let alone charge them for the privilege) has a thick skin and a dubious set of morals, so the only way to discourage them is to hit them where it hurts – in the pocket.