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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Property ‘guardian’ firm found guilty - now trading under new name

A company that slots temporary tenants into properties that it manages has been found guilty of 15 charges connected with Homes in Multiple Occupation.

Camelot Guardian Management Company Ltd, also known as Camelot Europe, has been found guilty of charges including the failure to licence a House in Multiple Occupation, and 14 breaches of HMO management regulations in relation to the a former rectory in 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 Colchester council 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, it has now gone into administration.

But the council says it is now trading under a new name, Watchtower Security Solutions, and trading as Watchtower Property Management, with the same company director.

District Judge Barron, handling the case, said he 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.

A council spokesman says: “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.”

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