Landlord put the squeeze on

Landlord put the squeeze on

Landlord put the squeeze on

Landlord put the squeeze on

First published in News

A LANDLORD from hell crammed complete strangers into tiny rooms at a squalid house while pocketing tens of thousands of pounds in housing benefits.

Pavlos Chatzinopoulos packed seven tenants into rooms as small as 5.7m squared without any fire precautions, smoke alarms or means of escape. He also had a room in the house.

Residents had to eat off a pool table and a cupboard underneath the stairs was crammed with combustible material. Some doors were sealed shut with padlocks.

A female tenant raised the alarm after she was put in the same room as a man she did not know.

Swindon council environmental health inspectors visited on March 16 last year and found atrocious conditions at the five-bedroom property in Tudor Walk, Walcot.

Residents were observed wandering out of rooms looking sleepy and the only communal surface to eat meals on was a pool table. The house was given an A rating for overcrowding – the highest category possible – and was also deemed a significant fire hazard.

Chatzinopoulos, 45, completely disregarded repeated warnings and notices to reduce over-crowding and take measures to make the house safe for tenants.

Pictures of the grim and cluttered conditions, with makeshift bedding piled up in rooms, were used as evidence at the landlord’s trial yesterday.

The conditions on one of the inspections were described as “appalling” and “dreadful” by District Judge Simon Cooper at Swindon Magistrates’ Court.

He said: “That shows in my mind the care and attention Mr Chatzinopoulos gave to his sole investment. It seems in a condition in which no reasonable person should be allowed to live.”

Chatzinopoulos was found guilty of one count of failing to comply with a notice to reduce overcrowding and another of failing to carry out remedial work at the house.

Both charges related to one of the final visits made by council officers in November 2010. He was ordered to pay £2,500 costs and a surcharge of £15 to go to victims of crime.

Earlier at the trial prosecutor Paul Cook told the court that senior environmental health officer Susan Maggs had visited the house in March last year after a complaint from a tenant.

He said: “Visits were paid throughout the summer, in May, in July and on August 3. Following these visits Miss Maggs served an improvement notice on Chatzino-poulos requiring him to deal with the fire hazards and reduce these hazards to a satisfactory level.”

Mr Cook said housing benefit paid by Swindon council to accommodate the residents amounted to £36,861 over two years– which would have gone to Chatzinopoulos.

He said: “The tenants’ rent gets paid directly to him by the department.” .

Miss Maggs told the court that one room was well below the acceptable standard for habitation. She said: “This room was 5.7m squared and was occupied by an adult male. The minimum size for any room in any property is 6.5m squared.

“Below that standard is statutory overcrowding.”

Miss Maggs said that as well as a lack of smoke alarms, fire doors and other precautions the front door had a key lock which risked trapping the tenants inside in the case of emergency.

She told the court: “If a tenant keeps the key in their room or the landlord has the key in their room in the event of a fire there have been many people trapped inside properties.”

Mr Cook asked Miss Maggs if she found a room where a female occupied one bed and a man unknown to her occupied the other. She replied: “That is correct, yes.”

Mr Cook asked the officer if she gave Chatzinopoulos advice about the situation.

She said: “I confirmed statutory overcrowding. With two unrelated persons of opposite sex sharing a room he would have to legally evict or rehouse one of the occupants to comply.”

Chatzinopoulos, who was representing himself, said: “I can make a mistake, my Lord, I did not do anything wrong. I work hard just how to make happy tenants, how to make happy myself. I personally have given house to people sleeping in the road. I have said we have faith, we are tolerant.”

Chatzinopoulos was asked by Judge Cooper not to address him as “my Lord”.

The landlord said he disputed measurements taken of his own room in the house and produced written letters he said were from some of his tenants.

But he was told by Judge Cooper: “It is plain you’re guilty. It is silly to dispute measurements of the room, I’m satisfied they were properly measured.”

Judge Cooper said he had no powers to suspend Chatzinopoulos from renting housing to private tenants.

Comments (15)

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11:58am Fri 18 Nov 11

PaulD says...

what a scumbag
what a scumbag PaulD
  • Score: 0

12:09pm Fri 18 Nov 11

robertfm says...

Am I missing something here?. It says the rents were paid directly to him, surely someone in housing benefit must have known there was overcrowding by the amount of benefit being paid.
Am I missing something here?. It says the rents were paid directly to him, surely someone in housing benefit must have known there was overcrowding by the amount of benefit being paid. robertfm
  • Score: 0

12:33pm Fri 18 Nov 11

Always Grumpy says...

robertfm wrote:
Am I missing something here?. It says the rents were paid directly to him, surely someone in housing benefit must have known there was overcrowding by the amount of benefit being paid.
I think you are missing something here. You're assuming there are intelligent people working for the council. Silly mistake I know, but easily made.
[quote][p][bold]robertfm[/bold] wrote: Am I missing something here?. It says the rents were paid directly to him, surely someone in housing benefit must have known there was overcrowding by the amount of benefit being paid.[/p][/quote]I think you are missing something here. You're assuming there are intelligent people working for the council. Silly mistake I know, but easily made. Always Grumpy
  • Score: 0

1:01pm Fri 18 Nov 11

Oik1 says...

So the landlord was fined, £2,500 costs and a surcharge of £15 to go to victims of crime.
And over two years he had pocketed, £36,861 in housing benefit from the council for his tenants in those conditions.
My old mum was wrong, crime does pay and very well too it would seem!
So the landlord was fined, £2,500 costs and a surcharge of £15 to go to victims of crime. And over two years he had pocketed, £36,861 in housing benefit from the council for his tenants in those conditions. My old mum was wrong, crime does pay and very well too it would seem! Oik1
  • Score: 0

1:23pm Fri 18 Nov 11

Another Honda Worker says...

Its beyond believe that this hell hole was not closed down long before the scum bag landlord pocketed £36,861.
Its beyond believe that this hell hole was not closed down long before the scum bag landlord pocketed £36,861. Another Honda Worker
  • Score: 0

1:39pm Fri 18 Nov 11

blahblahblahblah says...

I was disappointed to find this was not about robFM trying to wear skinny jeans
I was disappointed to find this was not about robFM trying to wear skinny jeans blahblahblahblah
  • Score: 0

1:43pm Fri 18 Nov 11

Terence says...

Oik1 wrote:
So the landlord was fined, £2,500 costs and a surcharge of £15 to go to victims of crime.
And over two years he had pocketed, £36,861 in housing benefit from the council for his tenants in those conditions.
My old mum was wrong, crime does pay and very well too it would seem!
Different times I fear - in the old days crime didn't pay when a person got caught, nowadays we have the peverse situation where it pays even when the damned sods DO get caught!
[quote][p][bold]Oik1[/bold] wrote: So the landlord was fined, £2,500 costs and a surcharge of £15 to go to victims of crime. And over two years he had pocketed, £36,861 in housing benefit from the council for his tenants in those conditions. My old mum was wrong, crime does pay and very well too it would seem![/p][/quote]Different times I fear - in the old days crime didn't pay when a person got caught, nowadays we have the peverse situation where it pays even when the damned sods DO get caught! Terence
  • Score: 0

1:53pm Fri 18 Nov 11

house on the hill says...

"Always Grumpy says...
12:33pm Fri 18 Nov 11

robertfm wrote:
Am I missing something here?. It says the rents were paid directly to him, surely someone in housing benefit must have known there was overcrowding by the amount of benefit being paid."

I think you are missing something here. You're assuming there are intelligent people working for the council. Silly mistake I know, but easily made.""

Grumpy, Housing Benefit is outsourced by the Council along with Council Tax benefit and is assessed by Capita in a processing centre in Shepton Mallet, so they wont care anyway as they are only interested in providing the service as cheaply as possible. The Fraud team is already understaffed and overworked and hampered by endless red tape, so they wouldn't have wanted to know anyway!!!!

And agree with Paul D This guy is a scumbag and yet again the justice system is completely inadequate. He is not the only one in Swindon doing it, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
"Always Grumpy says... 12:33pm Fri 18 Nov 11 robertfm wrote: Am I missing something here?. It says the rents were paid directly to him, surely someone in housing benefit must have known there was overcrowding by the amount of benefit being paid." I think you are missing something here. You're assuming there are intelligent people working for the council. Silly mistake I know, but easily made."" Grumpy, Housing Benefit is outsourced by the Council along with Council Tax benefit and is assessed by Capita in a processing centre in Shepton Mallet, so they wont care anyway as they are only interested in providing the service as cheaply as possible. The Fraud team is already understaffed and overworked and hampered by endless red tape, so they wouldn't have wanted to know anyway!!!! And agree with Paul D This guy is a scumbag and yet again the justice system is completely inadequate. He is not the only one in Swindon doing it, this is just the tip of the iceberg. house on the hill
  • Score: 0

2:16pm Fri 18 Nov 11

cushman says...

This is what get when you invite people from other Countries to live here they fleece the state never payed a penny into the system i'm not being racial in anyway but i've noticed that alot of these people are doing it! even their own kind must be disgusted with these people! I paid into the system all my working life and at to retire early with ill health couldn't get any real help and I was bringing up my daughter that even didn't help me! but when I see cases like this and others it makes my blood boil! what as happened to this Country when an Englishman can't get help and these people fleecing the system God help us all that's all I can say!
This is what get when you invite people from other Countries to live here they fleece the state never payed a penny into the system i'm not being racial in anyway but i've noticed that alot of these people are doing it! even their own kind must be disgusted with these people! I paid into the system all my working life and at to retire early with ill health couldn't get any real help and I was bringing up my daughter that even didn't help me! but when I see cases like this and others it makes my blood boil! what as happened to this Country when an Englishman can't get help and these people fleecing the system God help us all that's all I can say! cushman
  • Score: 0

2:18pm Fri 18 Nov 11

I 2 Could B says...

Let's not pretend that this is anything like an isolated incident. It's very widespread.
Let's not pretend that this is anything like an isolated incident. It's very widespread. I 2 Could B
  • Score: 0

3:07pm Fri 18 Nov 11

Just a thought says...

Hmm, were these people forced to stay there?
Benefits paid directly to the landlord – as a tax payer – that’s my money you were wasting at the benefits office – who is going to be held accountable?
£2500 fine??? Not much of a deterrent is it especially when added too the comment from Judge Cooper who said he had “no powers to suspend Chatzinopoulos from renting housing to private tenants”
So that’s alright then, do it again, seems worth it
Hmm, were these people forced to stay there? Benefits paid directly to the landlord – as a tax payer – that’s my money you were wasting at the benefits office – who is going to be held accountable? £2500 fine??? Not much of a deterrent is it especially when added too the comment from Judge Cooper who said he had “no powers to suspend Chatzinopoulos from renting housing to private tenants” So that’s alright then, do it again, seems worth it Just a thought
  • Score: 0

4:16pm Fri 18 Nov 11

flatbattery says...

PaulD wrote:
what a scumbag
pauld. you should have said FOREIGN scum bag
[quote][p][bold]PaulD[/bold] wrote: what a scumbag[/p][/quote]pauld. you should have said FOREIGN scum bag flatbattery
  • Score: 0

6:50pm Fri 18 Nov 11

Always Grumpy says...

house on the hill wrote:
"Always Grumpy says...
12:33pm Fri 18 Nov 11

robertfm wrote:
Am I missing something here?. It says the rents were paid directly to him, surely someone in housing benefit must have known there was overcrowding by the amount of benefit being paid."

I think you are missing something here. You're assuming there are intelligent people working for the council. Silly mistake I know, but easily made.""

Grumpy, Housing Benefit is outsourced by the Council along with Council Tax benefit and is assessed by Capita in a processing centre in Shepton Mallet, so they wont care anyway as they are only interested in providing the service as cheaply as possible. The Fraud team is already understaffed and overworked and hampered by endless red tape, so they wouldn't have wanted to know anyway!!!!

And agree with Paul D This guy is a scumbag and yet again the justice system is completely inadequate. He is not the only one in Swindon doing it, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Fair enough.
Someone, somewhere must be to blame for this fiasco.
I'll blame Labour then, for opening the floodgates to uncontrolled immigration.
[quote][p][bold]house on the hill[/bold] wrote: "Always Grumpy says... 12:33pm Fri 18 Nov 11 robertfm wrote: Am I missing something here?. It says the rents were paid directly to him, surely someone in housing benefit must have known there was overcrowding by the amount of benefit being paid." I think you are missing something here. You're assuming there are intelligent people working for the council. Silly mistake I know, but easily made."" Grumpy, Housing Benefit is outsourced by the Council along with Council Tax benefit and is assessed by Capita in a processing centre in Shepton Mallet, so they wont care anyway as they are only interested in providing the service as cheaply as possible. The Fraud team is already understaffed and overworked and hampered by endless red tape, so they wouldn't have wanted to know anyway!!!! And agree with Paul D This guy is a scumbag and yet again the justice system is completely inadequate. He is not the only one in Swindon doing it, this is just the tip of the iceberg.[/p][/quote]Fair enough. Someone, somewhere must be to blame for this fiasco. I'll blame Labour then, for opening the floodgates to uncontrolled immigration. Always Grumpy
  • Score: 0

8:03pm Fri 18 Nov 11

Malkym says...

Judge Cooper said he had no powers to suspend Chatzinopoulos from renting housing to private tenants.

Couldn't he start by checking passport & immigration controls, work permits and residency etc!
Judge Cooper said he had no powers to suspend Chatzinopoulos from renting housing to private tenants. Couldn't he start by checking passport & immigration controls, work permits and residency etc! Malkym
  • Score: 0

10:55am Sat 19 Nov 11

I 2 Could B says...

Malkym wrote:
Judge Cooper said he had no powers to suspend Chatzinopoulos from renting housing to private tenants. Couldn't he start by checking passport & immigration controls, work permits and residency etc!
When was the last time an illegal immigrant ever faced a sentence for breaking immigration laws?

All our pathetic authorities do is run around trying to find them a house and provide them with spending money.

I don't even know why they're referred to as 'illegal' immigrants because they never, ever face criminal charges for breaking the law.
[quote][p][bold]Malkym[/bold] wrote: Judge Cooper said he had no powers to suspend Chatzinopoulos from renting housing to private tenants. Couldn't he start by checking passport & immigration controls, work permits and residency etc![/p][/quote]When was the last time an illegal immigrant ever faced a sentence for breaking immigration laws? [p] All our pathetic authorities do is run around trying to find them a house and provide them with spending money. [p] I don't even know why they're referred to as 'illegal' immigrants because they never, ever face criminal charges for breaking the law. I 2 Could B
  • Score: 0

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