Rogue landlords have to pay out £109,000 after defying Southwark town hall

BY TOBY PORTER
toby@slpmedia. co.uk

Three brothers who rented out dangerous flats above the famous former Thomas A Beckett pub in the Old Kent Road have been ordered to pay out a total of more than £109,000.

The trio were fined £37,500 and costs of £16,467.30 at the Inner London Crown Court on December 17 for leaving it in a dangerous state for tenants, especially if there was a fire.

His Honour Judge Wood QC also granted a confiscation order of £55,372.96, linked to the proceeds of their crime.

The pub is where former European heavyweight boxing champion Henry Cooper trained for years – in a gym over the bar.

The building – also used as a rehearsal space by David Bowie before he hit the big time – was available for a knock-down price three years ago and has attracted animosity from neighbours because of late-night noise.

British heavyweight Henry Cooper during training at Thomas A Becket Gymnasium, Old Kent Road, London.

Southwark council has twice led prosecutions over the property – two previous convictions were linked to breaches of housing laws that are designed to protect tenants.

Southwark enforcement officers visited the property on August 31, 2016 because of concern for the tenants.

It was a large high-risk House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) with three floors of accommodation above the pub.

The fire protection there was poorly maintained: the fire alarm system didn’t work, the fire doors were not up to standard and the fire extinguishers had not been tested or maintained.

Flats inside were found to be unlicensed and illegally over-occupied.

A studio flat previously labelled as being unsafe to live in had been rented to a couple for £730 a month for rooms that were all too small to meet the council’s minimum size rules and contained a bedroom with no window, natural light or ventilation.

Baian Abdul, 37, Kazi Abdul, 43, and Kashim Abdul, 45, of Darville Road, Stoke Newington, all pleaded guilty at hearings in 2017.

Kazi Abdul is also a director of a fourth defendant company in the case: KKB Financial Services Ltd, based at 86 Whitechapel High Street.

Muhammad Ali, being knocked down by Henry Cooper during their fight at Wembley London. 

Sentencing was postponed while Southwark council investigated their profits. The brothers jointly owned 320-322 Old Kent Road, and the company was connected with letting flats and rooms above the Thomas A Beckett pub, until it was sold in August 2017.

Southwark Trading Standards also found that the company was falsely claiming to be a member of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) and also using a SAFEAGENT scheme logo, when it was neither members, nor authorised to use the logos.

Councillor Victoria Mills, cabinet member for finance, performance and Brexit, said: “Southwark council will not tolerate rogue landlords who put personal profit before the safety of their tenants.

“This case shows that we will use all tools available to maintain living standards for private renters. Families and individuals should never live in unsafe, sub-standard and poorly-managed flats, and crime should never pay.”

The brothers had two previous convictions. In October 2013 they pleaded guilty to offences under the Housing Act 2004: failure to comply with three prohibition orders; failure to provide information; contravention of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.

In September 2015 the three brothers were convicted of further offences relating to contravention of the prohibition orders and failing to properly manage the property.

The offences included a failure to ensure that the property had adequate and working fire protection. The pub had its licence revoked at summary review proceedings in 2015 because of disturbances to neighbours.

A new firm took over in February 2017 and renamed it Rock Island, with a restaurant licence, so alcohol could only be served as part of a meal. An attempt to open it until 2.30am was blocked by District Judge Karim Ezz at Camberwell Magistrates Court a year ago.

The pub had a first floor boxing gym used by Muhammed Ali, Sir Henry Cooper, Joe Frazier and Sugar Ray Leonard to spar before famous bouts.

The venue’s second floor was used as a rehearsal space for David Bowie’s seminal 1972 album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars.

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