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Housing charity is most prosecuted landlord in UK

Wednesday 10 May 2017

A charity that receives thousands of pounds in housing benefit to house vulnerable people heads a list of the UK’s most-prosecuted landlords, a report by the Guardian newspaper has revealed.

Alternative Housing, which was set up in Bristol to provide accommodation for homeless people with drink and drug problems, has been convicted of six housing offences over the past two years.

The company was fined nearly £40,000, while receiving £321,000 in housing benefit, for providing bedsits with broken cookers and drains, and without hot water or heating. 

It was prosecuted three times in 2015 after housing officers discovered an electricity meter had been bypassed and sewage was overflowing in the backyard of one small terraced house, which had been converted into four bedrooms.

In 2016 the charity faced three more cases when council officials discovered it was still putting some of its tenants at risk. 

The Bristol Post reported that a bucket was being used to collect kitchen waste water and there was no gas for hot water or heating in the same house. 

There were also missing smoke detectors, damp in the bedrooms and insufficient cooking facilities for the tenants.

One of the charity’s tenants was found dead in his room in 2016, after his body had lain undiscovered for up to four weeks because the stink from a blocked sewage pipe masked the smell.

Bristol council’s housing cabinet member, Paul Smith, described Alternative Housing as a “bogus charity” which had done “appalling things” to vulnerable people. 

“There is nothing charitable about what they were doing. They were using charitable status as a cover for commercial activity,” he said.

The Guardian's Freedom of information requests to councils in England and Wales revealed that 651 landlords were convicted of housing offences between January 2015 and December 2016. 

They were fined a total of £3m – an average of about £4,600 per conviction.

To read the Guardian report, visit: 

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/may/05/bristol-housing-charity-uk-most-prosecuted-landlords

To read the Bristol Post report, visit: 

http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/bristol-housing-charity-named-uks-47237

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