Treehouse of horror: Unscrupulous Clapham landlord rents ‘appalling and dangerous’ house with TREE growing through it

A house rented out for £40,000 a year was found to be unliveable and ‘a genuine danger’ by Lambeth Council after it was illegally converted into flats and had a tree growing through it.

The Rectory Gardens property in Clapham, which the council has reclaimed, was originally a three-bedroomed house but was illegally converted into an eight-bed multi-occupancy dwelling (HMO).

A large branch from a nearby tree had smashed through a window of one of the rooms and had continued to grow unchecked into the house.

Tree 1

The tenants were using a hole drilled through the branch to pass electricity from room to room.

Cllr Matthew Bennett, cabinet member for housing, said: “The conditions the people in this illegal HMO were living in were truly appalling, and represented a genuine danger to life and limb.

“It is shocking that someone can make money exploiting people by illegally renting out such dangerous accommodation with no regard for the safety of the people living there.”

tree 2

Up to eight residents were forced to share a single bath and toilet while being charged up to £100 a week to live in the damaged and dangerous house.

The property had been a shortlife asset which means social landlords licence the empty properties and either refurbish or demolish them.

tree 3

The ‘landlord’ had failed to install clear and suitable emergency exits whilst earning an estimated £40,000 for the uninhabitable home.

tree house stairwell

UNSAFE: The house was supposed to be demolished or completely refurbished

The discovery comes a week after Lambeth Council warned of the dangers of stealing electricity after taking possession of yet another shortlife property in the Clapham area which was illegally supplying power to several properties.

An electrician contracted by the council to ensure the property was returned to a safe state said the unsecure cables and unsafe connections made it the most dangerous site he’d seen in 35 years.

Cllr Bennet continued: “We have 21,000 people on our housing waiting list, 1,800 families in temporary accommodation, and 1,300 families who are severely overcrowded.

“With this housing need, it would be irresponsible to spend our money refurbishing shortlife properties which are in a very poor state of disrepair – particularly when they are being misused for these exploitative and illegal purposes.”

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