Landlord Leo Ippolito, from Ayr, has been banned from renting out properties ever again. Ippolito had rented up to 21 properties, largely in the centre of Ayre, for almost 20 years. One councillor referred to them as 'houses of horror', as they posed a real risk to the lives of the unfortunate tenants living in them.
South Ayrshire Council said it was the first time it had ever been forced to take this kind of legal action against a private landlord, and had been driven to do so by some of the shocking conditions inspectors found in the properties he was renting out.
Its inspectors identified serious risks. These included a flat rented to a couple with a small child, which had bars on the windows of the child's bedroom that could have prevented his escape in the event of a fire. What was even more alarming was that there were signs of a previous fire at the property - with soot covering the boiler.
There was also a flat let to a man whose toddler lived with him for part of the week. The first floor bedroom had an odd door opening to the outside, which lead to a sharp drop down to ground level. Meanwhile, one of the light sockets had water dripping though it.
In addition to these shocking examples, there were routine breaches of a huge number of safety regulations. So, for example, there were no valid gas safety certificates for any of the properties, there was inadequate smoke alarm provision in more than half of them, and every property needed maintenance and repair.
For years, after each inspection, the authorities instructed the landlord to bring the properties up to standard. However, he ignored these instructions, so they were eventually forced to revoke his registration as a landlord.
The Councils Regulatory Panel revoked his registration back in November 2013, and refused his application for renewal in August 2014 - on the basis of the condition of properties. However, he had continued to operate as a landlord, because he appealed both decisions. This week he recognised he had exhausted the legal options, and agreed not to pursue any further action.
Councillor Philip Saxton, South Ayrshire Council's Portfolio Holder for Housing and Customer First, said: "The removal of Mr Ippolito from the Register of Landlords brings to an end a long and arduous process that would have been completely unnecessary if he had only conducted himself as a fit and proper landlord – as the majority are – rather than continuing to operate these houses of horror."
"He was given many chances to take action and operate as he should, but he chose to put profit above anything else and that decision has now well and truly come home to roost. We cannot and will not tolerate landlords who take advantage of some of the most vulnerable members of our communities to make a quick buck and I want that message to be heard loud and clear."
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