Happy Vale Hotel owners fined £660 over conditions at notorious Mornington Crescent hostel

Happy Vale Hotel was branded 'the worst hotel in Britain' after the conditions were revealed in 2014

Happy Vale Hotel was branded 'the worst hotel in Britain' after the conditions were revealed in 2014 - Credit: Harry taylor

The owners of the notorious Happy Vale Hotel have been fined hundreds of pounds after they pleaded guilty to two counts of keeping the hostel in disrepair.

An investigation by the Ham&High earlier this year, published in April, uncovered evidence of a mouse infestation, blocked toilets and broken plumbing at the house in Mornington Crescent.

Camden Council had already fined its owners, Hospitality Zone LLP, and was pursuing further action over the conditions.

Happy Vale operates as a hostel for people on housing benefits despite being called a hotel – and conditions inside the Victorian terraced property in Harrington Square were said to be squalid.

The issues have been the latest in years of problems for residents at Happy Vale.

Its previous owner, Steven Gethin, was fined £13,000 in 2014 and told he was unfit to run a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) due to its conditions.

Hospitality Zone was due to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court today to face four charges, in a day and a half hearing.

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But since its last hearing on May 3, the Ham&High has learnt, it has pleaded guilty to failing to ensure a hand basin was maintained in good and clean repair and safe working conditions.

Hospitality Zone also pleaded guilty to failing to ensure a window in an upstairs bathroom was kept in good repair.

All other charges against Hospitality Zone and a partner in the firm, Hanif Bhimji, have been dropped.

At a hearing at Highbury Corner Magistrates court on July 5, Hospitality Zone was fined £660 and told to pay costs of £1,100.

A spokesperson declined to comment on whether Hospitality Zone is now looking to sell the property.

It has served notice on the existing tenants.

A spokesperson for Hospitality Zone said: “[We] accept that the relevant wash hand basin and bathroom window were in disrepair at the time of the council’s inspection of the premises in January 2018. These have now been repaired.

“All charges against Hanif Bhimji, and all remaining charges against Hospitality Zone LLP, were withdrawn by the council. Hanif Bhimji did not plead guilty to any of the charges brought by the council.”

Camden Council said it had decided to drop the remaining charges due to a dispute over the property’s ownership.

This meant that when the town hall inspected the house in January, Hospitality Zone wasn’t registered as the legal owner, despite being the HMO licensee.