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Rogue landlord's portfolio to be investigated
HOUSING bosses are investigating more than ten properties across Southend rented by one landlord, in the wake of an Echo investigation.
Last week we revealed the shocking conditions at a former hotel, in Station Road, Westcliff, split into four flats by owner Alfred Katona in the Eighties.
Problems, including exposed electrical wires, mould and a padlocked fire escape, were so bad, Southend social services is trying to rehouse one tenant, a man in his seventies.
Now the council has confirmed Mr Katona has a portfolio of converted properties, many of which have not been inspected by the authority’s housing or environmental health department.
A council spokesman said: “We have established this landlord has at least ten properties in the borough and our housing and environmental health team will be investigating.”
Mr Katona, aged in his seventies, lives in a smart detached house in Chadwick Road, Westcliff.
Only homes of three or more stories and with five or more tenants need to be licensed and inspected by a local authority.
Mr Katona’s properties house four, or fewer, tenants.
The majority of Mr Katona’s tenants are former homeless or other vulnerable people and are often funded by the taxpayer through housing benefits of about £100 per week.
Ron Woodley, Independent councillor who sits on the housing working party, said: “We need a more accountable system.
“These landlords are being paid twice as much as rent for social housing, so there is no need for properties to be in this condition.
“Are we in the 1800s or the 21st century?”
He said the council needed to identify all landlords being paid through housing benefits and ensure their properties were inspected before money was released.
He added: “We need to make sure those landlords meet decent homes standards that apply to housing association and council houses.
“The landlords are taking public money, so the council has a responsibility to ensure their properties are up to scratch.”
An Echo reporter went to Mr Katona’s home to get a comment, but nobody answered the door.
If you are staying in a rogue landlord's property email email@example.com or call him on 01702 321152.
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