Smut Inn Published: Tuesday, 24th February 2015

Oldham Council has prosecuted a landlord who allowed a group of men to sleep in squalid conditions in a property he owned – a former public house called The Smut Inn.

Last year Environmental Health Officers were informed by the police that the men were staying on the ground floor of the property on Manchester Road, Werneth. 

Officers arranged with Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to visit the premises just after midnight on July 1, last year. 

The owner Mohammed Aslam had just arrived back from work with the men who were all working for him.  

When officers went into the property they found the bar still in situ but the seating area had been poorly partitioned off to make bedrooms. 

There was no heating and the lighting could only be controlled via the original light switch panel behind the bar.

The only washing facilities were the original pub toilets and there were no bathing facilities. The original pub kitchen was still in place which had boarded windows.

There were also no fire precautions in place that would alert the residents allowing them to get out safely in the event of an emergency. The fire exits and the means of escape were blocked.

When interviewed the men, who mainly came from Eastern Europe, said that they worked for Aslam picking coriander in fields located in North Wales and East Yorkshire.

They were transported in the back of a van to and from work. They said they were paid £30 per day and paid £30 per week to Aslam for electricity.

Aslam lived on the first floor of the property which had recently been renovated to a high standard.

A prohibition order was served at the time of the visit stating that an interlinked fire detection system was to be installed or the workers were not allowed to stay there.  

A follow up visit carried out by officers on September 10, 2014 revealed that the prohibition order hadn’t been complied with and there was still workers living there. 

Legal proceedings were then launched by the council.

On Friday, February 20 Aslam, aged 76, pleaded guilty to 11 offences under the Housing Act 2004 of Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.

He was fined £2,200 with £2,600 costs.

Councillor Dave Hibbert, Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning and Transport, said: “In this day and age it is shocking that a landlord would allow their tenants to live in such a poorly maintained property.

“The council gave Aslam an opportunity to put the faults right in his property but he failed to do so.

“All landlords have a responsibility to their tenants and must ensure that the properties they rent out are safe and healthy to live in. We will take action against those who think they can get away with letting out substandard properties.

“Oldham Council is committed to working with landlords for the benefit of all the Borough’s residents.”

If you think the property you are renting is unsafe to live in contact 0161 770 2244 or email environmentalhealth@oldham.gov.uk

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