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Cardiff Crime South Wales

Cardiff landlords rented out dangerous properties lacking fire safety

An unprotected electricity meter at 19 Blaenclydach Street in Grangetown, Cardiff (Pic: Cardiff Council)

TWO Cardiff landlords rented out dangerous properties in the city that lacked basic fire safety measures.

Rowshanara Begum of Clive Street, Grangetown, and Lawford Cunningham of Wheeleys Road in Edgbaston, Birmingham, were both prosecuted by Cardiff Council and fined thousands of pounds at hearings on Friday, February 9 and Thursday, February 8 respectively.

Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard how Begum’s property in Grangetown had no fire alarms, defective fire doors and unsafe electrical installations.

Cunningham’s property, also in Grangetown, had a defective fire alarm, dangerous electrics and a poorly-maintained communal escape route.

Fire alarm control panel shows fault lights at 19 Blaenclydach Street (Pic: Cardiff Council)
The state of one of the escape doors at a flat in 19 Blaenclydach Street (Pic: Cardiff Council)

A tenant living at Begum’s two-storey Victorian property, 19 Blaenclydach Street, complained to the council about it and an inspection was carried out leaving housing officers “shocked” by the defects there.

Other issues recorded by council workers at the property, which had been turned into four self-contained flats, included no escape route for the inner rooms in the building, unsafe kitchens, dirty carpets, damp, unprotected electricity meters and unsafe windows.

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A cooker with no work surface to the sides at a flat in 19 Blaenclydach Street (Pic: Cardiff Council)
Dirty stair carpet at a flat on 19 Blaenclydach Street (Pic: Cardiff Council)

The case was brought to the court by Shared Regulatory Services (SRS) on December 1, 2022, where Begum was fined and ordered to pay costs.

Begum was ordered to carry out and complete improvements at the property by March 2022, but she failed to comply with this.

She pleaded guilty to failing to comply with five improvement notices for work to the property she rents.

A £20,000 fine was handed to Begum at last week’s hearing, along with a charge of £1,000 in costs and a further £2,000 victim surcharge.

Cunningham’s property, 43 Ferry Road, was visited by a housing inspector after a tenant living in one of four flats there complained to the council that the accommodation was in breach of the required standards for a house of multiple occupation (HMO).

Cardiff Council said the housing inspector found a “catalogue of failings” at Cunningham’s property.

Fire doors at the property were found to be incomplete, there was a lack of fire protection for electrical meters and a lack of sufficient heating.

The lounge door off its hinges at a flat in 43 Ferry Road (Pic: Cardiff Council)

The inspector also found an accumulation of waste in the front and rear yards of the property, damaged kitchen worktops and defective and damaged floor coverings.

Rubbish and an unguarded drop at the front of the basement at 43 Ferry Road (Pic: Cardiff Council)
A lack of work surface between the cooker and sink at 43 Ferry Road in Grangetown, Cardiff (Pic: Cardiff Council)

A case was brought to court on November 16, 2023, where Cunningham pleaded guilty to 24 offences.

The case was adjourned, as financial records were requested for other properties in the Cardiff area that Cunningham owned and rented out.

After Cunningham failed to provide the requested financial accounts, the case was listed at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court again on January 4, 2024, but the case was adjourned until last Thursday when Cunningham was ordered to pay three separate £1,000 fines.

Cardiff Council’s cabinet member for housing and communities, Councillor Lynda Thorne, said: “The majority of private-sector landlords provide a good service for their residents, but unfortunately there is a minority that do not.

“When we take these matters to court, we do this to benefit the residents living at these properties, so that the faults identified are fixed and the properties are safe to live in.

“As one of these cases show, we do make the necessary checks to ensure that the work is completed, and if it hasn’t been, we will look to prosecute the landlord again.”