Rogue landlord told tenant that she needed ‘good slap’

Former councillor Jonny Bucknell fined for failing to repair properties in Primrose Hill

Friday, 11th March — By Harry Taylor

Jonny Bucknell

Former councillor Jonny Bucknell

A LANDLORD in Primrose Hill who has been fined more than £70,000 for housing flaws told his tenant she deserved a “good slap” and should “jump out of the window”.

Jonny Bucknell, a former Conservative councillor who owns millions of pounds worth of homes in the area, was fined £92,190 by a magistrate last month for not improving homes he had previously been ordered to by courts.

Ramona Behravan, a tenant in one of the affected properties in Chamberlain Street, has said the issue was made worse by Mr Bucknell sending her offensive emails in which he made jokes about religion, including lines about Jews being only concerned about money.

He also said that “sections of the BME community trust their local witch doctor more than their GP”.

Mr Bucknell said this week: “These were jokes between friends. I bitterly regret falling out and I should not have sent these emails or said those things to her.”

Dr Behravan said she was told to jump out of the window and that she needed a good slap by Mr Bucknell, who said there had been an argument over noise.

She also said he told her she needed a “good shag” – Mr Bucknell said he could not remember this part of the exchange when approached this week.

He said: “We were so friendly until we fell out when I snapped at her. Of course these aren’t normal things for a landlord to say to a tenant.”

But Dr Behravan said: “I was not his friend. I needed to have a roof over my head, so I did not complain. I should not have had to put up with this just to have a home. When I eventually complained he said I was going to be evicted.”

After moving into the flat in February 2019, she said she has faced problems with damp, water leaks, and noise.

Damp problems were so bad that wallpaper fell on her head in the night while she was sleeping.

The flat also flooded repeatedly after she moved in, with the roof leaking.

Mr Bucknell would visit the property, she said, but little progress ever seemed to be made and he was reluctant to bring in external firms to carry out work. She eventually had to seek help for stress and anxiety, with a consultant writing to Mr Bucknell asking him to leave her alone.

“It made me so upset and stressed,” she said. “I was anxious and worried all the time about what was happening, and then I had my landlord saying those things to me. It just made it all so much worse.”

Dr Behravan added: “He never got any professionals in. It was always him or his mates. We had flood after flood after flood. He would come in day after day and nothing would get done, nothing would change.”

In a case brought by Camden Council, Mr Bucknell pleaded guilty to not carrying out work on two properties in Chamberlain Street on February 2.

He was fined £45,000 for the breach regarding 4 Chamberlain Street and £27,000 for number 8, two doors away. Compensation of £7,500 will be paid to both tenants affected.

A magistrate told him: “You knew what was required, you knew how soon it needed to be done and with one exception have still utterly failed to do so.”

Mr Bucknell – who was stopped from standing for the Tories again after previous landlord offences – said that delays over getting planning permission for the two flats had meant work could not have been done.

He said a new roof was needed for on one and double glazing is needed.

“I want to focus on getting my houses up to standard, and I know they’re not there right now. But it’s going in the right direction,” he said.

Camden’s housing chief, Labour councillor Meric Apak, said: “While most landlords are decent, law-abiding people, we are taking action against the minority who let unsuitable housing, exploit their tenants and woefully disregard their safety. In this case, legal action was a necessary last resort after improvement notices for damp, mould, and excess cold hazards went ignored.

“Our preferred approach is to arrive at a negotiated resolution when private landlords fail to provide safe homes for their tenants. But we have demonstrated that ultimately, when landlords refuse to work with us and continue to fail their tenants, that we will not hesitate to prosecute them.”

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