Date issued: 10 January 2020
Property guardian company, Camelot Guardian Management Company Ltd, also known as Camelot Europe, was found guilty of a total of 15 offences at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on 28 March 2019. This included failure to licence a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), and 14 breaches of HMO management regulations in relation to the Old Rectory in Lexden, Colchester.
The breaches related to fire and electrical safety and living conditions within the property including a faulty fire alarm system, blocked fire escapes and sealed doors. The residents shared one kitchen, several bathrooms with no hot water and a blocked toilet.
The tenants contacted the council’s Private Sector Housing Team, in January 2018, after their attempts to contact Camelot Europe about the issues were ignored.
Since the company admitted and was found guilty of these 15 offences, they have gone into administration. They are now trading under a new name, Watchtower Security Solutions, trading as Watchtower Property Management, with the same company director.
Today, 10 January 2020, District Judge Barron had no alternative, due to the company being in administration, but to issue a nominal fine of £100 for each of the 15 offences and ordered the company to pay the council's full costs of just under £10,000.
Cllr Adam Fox, Colchester Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “Property guardian companies have a duty to licence HMOs and follow the regulations to protect residents. Camelot Europe’s failure to do so in relation to the Old Rectory in Lexden left 30 tenants living in unsafe living conditions, which put them at risk in their homes.
“It is unfortunate that the company went into administration during the legal process leaving minimal assets, such that the Judge had no option but to issue nominal fines for what were serious offences.
“Colchester Borough Council is committed to improving standards of private sector housing accommodation across the borough. When accommodation is not being responsibly managed and regulations are breached, we will work with those involved to resolve the issues – but, if this proves to be unsuccessful, we will take legal action to remedy the situation and ensure tenants can enjoy a safe and healthy home which meets regulations.”