'Rogue landlord' to auction off flats

Flats for sale Alexandra Road Wisbech

WH Brown are advertising for sale by auction this block of 3 flats that were converted from an existing building and currently achieving £75 per week per flat. - Credit: WH Brown

A former Wisbech insurance broker has put a block of three flats he bought nearly 30 years ago up for auction after a protracted dispute over their condition.  

Paul Coulten, who lives near Stoke Ferry, will sell the Alexandra Road flats at auction. The guide price is £137,500. 

Mr Coulten owes nearly £9,000 in fines to Fenland Council for failing to carry out repairs. 

He converted the flats from a former warehouse to the rear of his then offices and he has lost appeals against the fines issued by the council. 

Councillor Samantha Hoy, portfolio holder for housing, warned last year that Fenland Council was “committed to protecting residents from substandard and dangerous living conditions”. 

The council “will not hesitate to use legal powers to improve standards in the private rented sector”. 

Rogue landlords, she implied, “can expect enforcement action to be taken against them”. 

Most Read

William H Brown says the flats currently achieve £75 each a week.  

“This would suit an investor and is sold with no forward chain,” says the estate agent. 

A Fenland Council spokesperson said: “The council has taken legal action with this case which has now concluded.  

“We are in the process of recovering the debt from the enforcement action that was taken.” 

 Mr Coulten said: “My confrontation with Fenland Council has gone on for three years.” 

He says he has always carried out any defects spotlighted by the council and three years ago he instructed a company to carry out agreed works. 

Mr Coulten says the flats were converted in conjunction with Fenland Council’s ‘living over the shop scheme” and that it was the council themselves who provided the original specifications for conversion.  

Faced with legal claims, he says he had been forced to represent himself as his solicitor wanted over £210 an hour “and this looked too expensive for a pensioner”. 

He said he had appealed to the Rural Property Tribunal at a cost of £200.  

"The judge relied on some photos, where frankly lack of paint (my fault, but not an offence) can look like rot,” he said. 

Mr Coulten said the judge accepted the evidence against him “bizarrely refused my appeal”.