Couple forced to crawl to enter rented room

Landlord fined for unsafe conditions

Updated: 


As landlords cash in on London's soaring property rental prices, one pair of tenants was forced to enter their room by crawling on all fours.

London landlord Yaakov Marom has been fined £3,040 by Barnet Council for letting a room which could only be accessed via a staircase with a head height of 0.7 metres - just 27 inches - at its lowest point. The room was then entered through a "hatchway" just two feet four inches high.

Marom had been renting the attic room to the couple for £420 a month.

The council first banned Maron from letting the room in 2012, concerned about how tenants could escape in the event of a fire. But Marom failed to comply with the order, and when council officers revisited the Hendon house last September, they found that the room was still in use.

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On 5 August at Willesden Magistrates' Court Marom, of Sunningfields Road, Hendon, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the order and was ordered to pay a £1,500 fine, £1,420 in costs and a victim surcharge of £120.

"At the very least tenants have the right to expect that the accommodation they are renting is safe," says Councillor Tom Davey, chairman of the Housing Committee.

"Barnet Council is keen to work with landlords and help them to provide safe accommodation. However, those who exploit tenants for financial gain will not be tolerated and the appropriate action will be taken."

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But as rents in London soar - up by over 11% on last year, according to the latest HomeLet Rental index - landlords are cashing in. Last month, we reported on a studio flat measuring just 8 feet by 9 - up for rent at £780 a month. This is way lower than the 120 square feet recommended by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

There are strict rules about the quality of rented accommodation, with landlords required to make sure that gas equipment and the electrical are safe and that tenants have access to fire escape routes at all times.

Tenants concerned about the safety of their property should report problems to their landlord in writing and allow a reasonable time for them to be fixed. If this isn't successful, they should contact their local council's environmental health department and ask for an inspection.

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