A landlord was fined £30,000 and given a six month suspended sentence after one of his rented properties resembled a subterranean cave saturated with damp, moss and mould.
Callous Steven Boote, 41, was prosecuted after one inspector branded the near derelict property the ”worst house I have seen in ten years”.
Boote’s tenant’s carpets had become encrusted with inch deep mould and the walls plastered with rotten moss.
The house had been without gas and hot water for several years and dozens of buckets had been positioned to catch water dripping from the leaking roof.
Boote was slapped with £30,000 in court costs and 200 hours of unpaid work after magistrates saw pictures showing the horrific state of the property.
Sentencing, Magistrate Ian Gillespie said: ”You showed callous disregard to your tenant’s plight and steps you did take to comply with orders were totally inadequate.
”You did nothing whatsoever to rectify the situation.”
The landlord was charged with two counts of failing to comply with gas regulations and one count of failing to comply with an improvement notice.
He was also given another improvement notice served by the Health and Safety Executive during his appearance at Coventry Crown Court on Thursday.
Tenant David Whorlow, 52, who had lived in the property since birth, said: ”Living there was an absolute nightmare.
”I couldn’t have friends and family round and I was finding it really stressful.
”If I had walked out or moved then Boote would have got off scot-free from doing any repairs.”
Boote, who owns 45 properties across Warwickshire, bought the semi-detached house in Coventry in 2007 but neglected to carry out any repairs or maintenance.
Coventry City Council launched a surprise raid on the property in November 2009 and uncovered a string of health and safety violations.
These included severe damp, extensive areas of mould, electrical hazards and inadequate cooking facilities.
There was also no evidence that gas safety checks had ever been performed during Boote’s negligent ownership.
Health inspector Gareth Langston said: ”The house is in a shocking state. It is the worst house I have seen in ten years.
”I find it hard to believe that anyone could live like that but Mr Whorlow did only because he had a sentimental attachment to the house.
”That is all that would keep someone in a house like that.”
Steve Chantler, senior housing enforcement officer, said: ”The costs issued are extremely high and reflect the seriousness of the offences and the disregard shown by Boote to the law and the safety of his tenant.”
Mr Whorlow added: ”I have followed this through to show other tenants that they have rights to live in a property of a suitable standard.
”If there is anyone out there going through a situation like I have in the last three years, please stick it out. Don’t be scared or intimidated by them.”
Boote, who represented himself at the hearing, accepted he had not acted professionally.
He claimed that the house was the only one of his 45 properties that lacked a gas safety certificate.