Landlord admits cramming 107 people into Sealand house of squalor

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A LANDLORD pocketed more than £23,000 per month from 107 tenants crammed into a two-storey building. 

Living conditions at the property in Deeside Lane, Sealand, where whole families were living in single rooms, were described as “wholly inadequate.” 

An inspection carried out after the raid found the building to be at “imminent risk” of fire due to faulty electrics. 

One of the largest multi-agency operations in the country was carried out in March, led by Flintshire Council, and John Russell Brown, 51, also of Deeside Lane, Sealand, was subsequently charged with 16 Housing Act offences in connection with living conditions at the property. 

The building, a fireplace showroom, was owned by Hyperion Investments Ltd, of which Brown is the sole director. 

Appearing in Wrexham Magistrates Court on Thursday, Brown and his company admitted 12 offences, while the remaining four were dropped by prosecutors. 

Christopher Moss, prosecuting, said Brown charged tenants between £50 and £55 per week to stay in the property, where they shared six toilets, six showers and three kitchens between them. 

Each month, he pocketed about £23,450 in rent. 

Mr Moss told the court Flintshire Council officers originally attended the property on February 18 after an anonymous tip raising concerns about the welfare of two children. 

But they were unable to carry out a full search until obtaining a warrant and discovering the full extent of the matter in March. 

One room was occupied by a husband, wife and their eight-year-old son while another was taken up by a husband, wife and two friends. 

The majority of rooms were overcrowded. 

Sewage was spilling out of the septic tank at the property and the safety of the tenants was at risk. 

Electrics were found to be faulty, there was a lack of basic fire fighting equipment and many fire exits were blocked. 

An emergency prohibition order was put in place to close the property and the tenants, most of whom were from eastern Europe, were moved to temporary emergency accomodation by Flintshire Council and the British Red Cross. 

Some Romanian immigrants were later flown home. 

The search of the property found washing lines were hung up in the corridors, cooking equipment was kept in rooms, there was no heating and no fire doors. 

Beds were propped up by bricks, water heaters did not work and the lighting was poor. 

Means of escape in the event of a fire had not been kept clear. 

Mr Moss said: “All in all, the property was in a real state detrimental to the health of the tenants. It was essentially uninhabitable and tenants were not provided with even the most basic of safe living conditions.” 

The property is located near fields which were worked by the tenants. 

Representing himself, Brown offered no defence but said he would provide witnesses at a sentencing hearing scheduled for January 14 in Mold. 

He was granted unconditional bail until then. 

See full story in the Leader

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