Camborne woman convicted of running overcrowded hostel
A Camborne woman who opens her home to homeless young men and ex offenders is facing a bill of more than £4,500, after falling foul of the authorities.
Julie Stoddern, 44, of North Roskear Village was fined £500 at Truro Magistrates Court on Monday morning, after pleading guilty to failing to comply with a prohibition order and of being in control of a house of multiple occupation without a licence.
She was ordered to pay costs to Cornwall Council, which brought the case, of £4,045.77.
Prosecutor Kevin Hill told the court that Cornwall Council's private housing sector team had visited the address after reports from the police of over crowding at the address.
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An assessment had been carried out and number of category one (high risk) hazards identified, including a dangerous staircase and fire safety concerns.
The council issued a prohibition order, requiring an attic room not to be used other than for storage until safety work had been carried out.
A subsequent visit by council staff noted a breach of the order.
Defending, Elliot Moore told the court that Ms Stoddern had not been aware of the need to license the premises.
And the attic room, the subject of the breach, had been used as a computer room not a bedroom.
He said: "The difficulty for her is that she has a loyalty to her residents."
He told the court that in 2011 Ms Stoddern had received an award for her work with the young men.
She provided them with accommodation, got them on college courses and put some stability into their lives.
Addressing the court, an emotional Ms Stoddern described her years of dealing with the community's problems.
The authorities, she said, had been happy to refer young men to her, but were now castigating her.
She said: "The tax payers' money being used to bring me to court today should be used to support these kids."
Chairman of the magistrates Karen Tudor told Ms Stoddern that the bench understood her motives, and added: "..there can be no doubt that your intentions in this case were quite honourable, but the safety regulations are there for a very good reason."
Mark Kaczmarek, cabinet member for housing and planning at Cornwall Council, said: "This case highlights that there are still some landlords who are operating licensable HMOs (houses of multiple occupation) without a licence despite the requirements being in place for over six years.
"The council will make every effort to advise and educate landlords, but those who plead ignorance to their obligations can rest assured that to protect the health safety and welfare of tenants, the council will make every effort to bring them to book.
"I want to congratulate the Private Sector Housing team for their good work in bringing this successful prosecution."