THE land agents responsible for a block of flats in Kenley have been prosecuted for blighting the lives of residents in a landmark case for Croydon Council
Nowsad Gani, who runs Gani and Company, which manages the block between 286 and 312 Old Lodge Lane, pleaded guilty to breaching the Environmental Protection Act by failing to ensure rubbish was removed from the site on a monthly basis.
Simon Kiely, prosecuting, admitted Gani had removed one load of rubbish after being issued a notice in June last year, but had not managed to control the level of fly-tipping since.
As a result, the council had paid £152.60 "out of the public purse" for contractors to remove the waste – which included domestic appliances, armchairs, computers, mattresses and cooking implements.
"The council received many complaints from local residents and the company failed in their obligation to clear the site. It cost taxpayers and damaged the local area," Mr Keily said.
However, Zack Simons, defending, told Croydon Magistrates' Court that Gani had been a land agent for 20 years with more than 180 properties in the area and had never been in trouble with the court before.
He said: "Mr Gani runs a responsible business and always deals with complaints. He removed the rubbish in June 2012 and then wrote to the tenants who live in the block of flats to remind them to deal with their waste. He did more than was asked of him.
"There are better ways of dealing with this kind of problem out of court. The council should have told Mr Gani about the problem earlier and he would have sorted it out."
Gani was fined £400 and ordered to pay the council £152.60 and contribute £500 to courts costs. He was also ordered to pay a £40 victim surcharge.
After the hearing, Gani said: "That block of flats has problems with the occupiers and we have had calls from the police a number of times about drugs.
"The council could have worked with us rather than prosecuting us. We are trying everything possible but there is a problem with that particular block."
David Hooper, a resident of Old Lodge Lane, is worried the surrounding properties could be devalued by the rubbish. He said: "We want to protect our area and this is destroying it. The agent should put up cameras or have someone on site. This will not end with one court case."
Last month, the Advertiser received complaints from residents in Old Lodge Lane, claiming they had seen discarded bottles of methadone – a heroin substitute used to rehabilitate drug addicts – yards from a primary school.
Kenley councillor Steve O'Connell said he welcomed the "severe poke in the eye" the company had received and thought it an important measure to force the agent to take responsibility for the site.
Croydon Council said it was the first time it had managed to prosecute an agent with failing to clean up fly-tipping regularly or control the issue.