Skip to content

Council steps-up enforcement action against “build first, ask later” Cally landlord

July 3, 2012

More and more Cally residents are outraged by revelations about landlord Andrew Panayi. He boasted two weeks ago on a BBC documentary that he develops high density bedsits and flats by “build first, ask for permission later”. He summed up his attitude to doing business on the Cally Road saying “if you have a cow, milk it”.

Cally Councillors announced on 21st June that the Council was already undertaking enforcement action and this was being stepped-up in the wake of the TVprogramme.

The Council has now compiled a list of 15 enforcement actions taken since 2008. These relate to planning breaches, environmental health and housing law infringements. In almost all cases, Mr Panayi was made to comply with the enforcement.

Amongst these cases is the infamous, long running problem at 169-171 Caledonian Rd. Until last August this address was the Pappeos nightclub, which the Council forced to shut-down by a combination of planning and licensing enforcement along with police and fire brigade action.

Currently there are a number of “live” investigations underway. These include unauthorised development at 342 Caledonian Rd (behind the Prince pub) including failure to build to proper sound-proofing standards. The Prince pub has been plagued by complaints from Mr Panayi’s tenants because of noise from the bar – not surprising as Mr Panayi converted part of the bar into a flat and put-in a thin partition wall that provides little barrier from the normal level of noise generated in a bar.

At another Caledonian Road address, Mr Panayi has been served with notice to remove a roof extension.

Further up Caledonian Rd, Mr Panayi is being required to remove a steel roller shutter which is unauthorised. Some years ago, the Council gave a grant to assist the owner to install a high quality timber shopfront. If Mr Panayi fails to comply, the Council could also take legal action to recover the grant.

The most controversial property owned by Mr Panayi is at 278 Caledonian Road (“Pleasure Garden”) which until recently offered 24 hour massage / sauna and was generally assumed to be a place where paid-for sex was available. This shop now claims to be a “hair salon”. Few residents believe this, however. Even if it were true, such a change of use requires planning permission which has not been given.

There are other “live” cases where the Council has served noise nuisance orders and Housing Act notices because the quality of residential accommodation is so poor.

The Council’s political leadership has promised there will be no hesitation to prosecute where enforcement notices are ignored. Mr Panayi was fined £5,000 (plus legal costs) when prosecuted after failing to remove a structure above the Co-op store at 303-311 Caledonian Rd.

There have also been spot inspections carried-out last week at 336-338 Caledonian Rd (one of the properties which featured in the TV programme). There are 15 miniature flats behind and beneath the former Topkapi Restaurant. Last week, Council and Fire Brigade inspectors visited and, as a result, some additional safety works have been required. However, Cally Councillors fear that these flats are not safe from fire risk and have notified Council officials and the Fire Brigade of what we believe to be a fundamental and serious infringement to the means of fire escape.

Cally Councillors have drawn-up a set of further actions that Council officials have agreed to pursue over the next 2 weeks to fully identify all properties owned by Mr Panayi and to check for compliance with planning permissions, building regulations and residential environmental health requirements.

Meanwhile, a group of Mr Panayi’s tenants have begun a campaign, initially through Twitter, to press the authorities for action and to support tenants who may face eviction. They are also backing the Shelter campaign to ‘evict rogue landlords’. Check them out on Twitter @CallyCows. Cally Labour Councillors have promised that the Council’s intention is to support current tenants and to avoid anyone being evicted as a result of the actions taken by the Council. Three other residents’ groups and campaigners have begun leafleting the neighbourhood and started petitions.

If you are one Mr Panayi’s tenants, please let us know in confidence at callylabourcouncillors@gmail.com and also the Cally Cows campaign at callycows@gmail.com) what is your address and we’ll add or check this against the growing list. We believe Mr Panayi owns the equivalent of 40 separate shops with accommodation above or behind on the Cally Rd alone – including 2 of the 3 pubs. If you are a tenant and you believe there are infringements in your home, we shall pass the basic details to the Council’s enforcement teams.

Cllr Paul Convery says “I was surprised to discover just how much property Mr Panayi owns around here. Suddenly, in the wake of the TV programme, everyone is talking about it. There is a great deal of anger and also quite a lot of anxiety from his residential and commercial tenants.”

“There are many problems with the way Mr Panayi runs his business. He has blatantly ignored planning or environmental health rules and, in doing so, the living conditions for some of his tenants are very poor.

“But his business also affects everyone in the neighbourhood – in lots of different ways. For example, many of his properties lack proper refuse storage areas so most of his tenants end up placing plastic bags of rubbish on the pavement – bags that usually get ripped open by cats, pigeons, even rats. That’s why the Cally is strewn with rubbish most days.

“Because Mr Panayi’s business model squeezes the maximum cash from his residential conversions, he has little economic incentive to keep his shops rented. That’s why so many Cally shops are empty for long periods of time. That’s killing the Cally too.

“By deliberately, almost exclusively, renting to young, short stay tenants, a large part of the Cally has become a high turnover, very transient place. Some of Mr Panayi’s tenants aren’t here long enough to be bothered. But a sizeable number are great people who are equally outraged at his behaviour. They agree that Cally needs to prosper but Mr Panayi’s business methods are holding the place back.”

NOTE: We cannot list all the enforcement underway particularly those that Mr Panayi may not yet be fully aware of. And we need to be careful about revealling some other actions for legal reasons.

Advertisements
14 Comments leave one →
  1. July 4, 2012 1:24 am

    Good to see that the Council is taking thorough action, and not shying away from legal prosecution should it be necessary.

    It goes without saying that we strongly hope the Council will keep true to the intention of carrying out this enforcement action without putting current tenants at risk of eviction.

    We also encourage any other resident campaign to contact us by email or Twitter. Our primary concern is to make sure affected tenants know what’s going on, but we also want the Cally to reach its full potential to be even better than the amazing place we love, so we’re keen to hear other residents’ campaigns and petitions.

    As the Councillors have mentioned above, if you are a current tenant and are concerned about the situation please do contact us at callycows@gmail.com. We really need to reach those who may only be here for a short period and not read this or other local blogs so please do speak to your neighbours about this issue.

    Lastly, a small observation about the aforementioned “Pleasure Garden”. A notice briefly appeared on its shop front stating that the premises were applying for a change in licensing to include “nail salon” facilities. However it is still a 24hr nail salon so I still have my reservations.

  2. Cally Families, Residents of Caledonian Road Neighbourhood permalink
    July 4, 2012 10:26 am

    We are not tenants of Mr Panayi but residents/parents on and around the Cally who are very concerned with the multiple breaches of planning law @CallyFamilies. We are somewhat reassured by the statement above but sadly it raises more questions than it answers. We feel strongly that the Council NEED TO HOLD A PUBLIC MEETNG to address the many issues that simply cannot be covered in online conversations. First of all WHERE ARE THE PLANNING DEPT and why are they not answering for any of their failures? We applaud Mr Convery for his efforts on our behalf, but he cannot possibly do this alone. Where are the other elected officials who should be answering for these failures in their departments?
    We set out a few more here:

    1. If Mr Panayi was fined £5000 for failing to remove a structure, does that mean the structure is allowed to remain now he’s paid a fine for it? Anyone who saw the programme or knows of his many tenants (who mostly pay him in cash) will find that a small punishment. Please can you clarify?

    2. Since the Planning Dept has the power to take down illegal extensions, why has this never happened with any of Mr Panayi’s many infringements? For example he has several roof extensions on the East side of the Caledonian Road. Planning law states that any roof extension should not be readily visible from the road. ALL of these are CLEARLY visible. These were all objected to by the Council when they were built, yet not one was taken down. Why is this? Statute of limitations should not necessarily apply since objections were made at the time. Is it still possible?

    3. We are encouraged that the councillors are still not happy with the underground flats, despite the fire brigade only calling for some ‘additional safety works’. Is this not a zoning issue? Can every building on the Cally add 5 underground flats? In addition to health and safet/fire hazards, has anyone thought about the demand that such a large influx of users makes on services such as water/drainage/sewage? And how these will be further stretched if these flats aren’t closed down, and the landlord prevented from continuing to add more and more accommodation to the road?(as unfortunately we believe this is the only action that will deter someone as destructive as this landlord). Anyone who has noticed the recent sewage stench on the Cally in the warm weather will question further capacity on our infrastructure.

    4. If any properties which were built without first obtaining planning permission are ‘passed’ even with fines, what about our community’s right to consultation? As Mr Panayi noted that he had received retrospective planning permission in the past, we all felt that we local residents were being kept in the dark by both him AND the council. We have the right to be consulted on any building near our homes and businesses and yet we have had NO say on any of these buildings, apart from the very few occasions when he has actually sought permission. But as residents and council tax payers we are all dealing with the effects of his actions and with his keeping us from having our say.

    5. HOORAY FOR ADDRESSING THE EMPTY SHOPS! Our question here, can the council do anything to force Mr Panayi to do something with these empty shops. There are obvious tax incentives for him to leave them empty and take a ‘loss’ though of course we can’t say that IS what he is doing. But can the Council legally take ANY action on these, or are we all held to ransom by one man’s disinterest in our road?

    6. Lastly, as parents with children in the local schools, nurseries and children centres, and who regularly use the Cally Pool, which is located not much more than 50 metres from the property owned by Mr Panayi and has been used as a brothel, we are encouraged that you are continuing this fight. Can’t the council enforce a ‘change of use’ and at least demand they unblock the windows? If the place was raided by police and closed down, why was the landlord not prosecuted?

    These are some of the questions we have. I am sorry the list is so extensive, but we have been kept out of the loop for so long because of lack of consultation on these goings-on that we have stored up a lot of concern and a real need for answers. We feel a public meeting would be the best way to do this, as so much of the problem with this whole issue is about actions being taken, or not taken, without any of our knowledge or consent.

    Any families in the area can join us on Twitter, @CallyFamilies or email Cally.Families@gmail.com

  3. rita bywater permalink
    July 4, 2012 2:52 pm

    my friend eileen runs the prince pub in the cally and she has turned it into a really nice place. that horrible greedy greek has given her a lot of grief since she leased it off him. its about time something was done about him.

  4. steve venables permalink
    July 11, 2012 10:12 am

    paul thank you for your reply it is heart warming to know that the council are now indeed taking action after many years of blatant disregard to the planning and health and safety regulations which are in force

  5. Anon permalink
    July 12, 2012 1:03 am

    I watched the TV programme and it was enjoyable. However, I am quite disappointed by the ‘mob’ attitude towards Mr Panayi. It occurs to me it is not his tenants that are complaining but local people.

    Mr Panayi, came accross as a cheeky character and frankly, I think he is a genuis for creating flats in the shop basements. This is wasted space. Mr Panayi has provided affordable housing to low-waged people like the Austrialian waiter. When asked by the TV presenter why he lived in the basement flat, his tenant replied it was “cheap”!

    The people of Cally don’t get it. It is so expensive too live in London’s Zone 1 and I would queue to live in Mr Panayi flat (I mean if an Aussie waiter can live there, then I am sure, I would be able to scrap a few quid!!!). Of course, I would deal with the mould in the flat – yuck!. I could enjoy life so much more if I lived in Zone 1. I am missing out so much on life. It is so expensive travel to Zone 1. I don’t care, if the flat is a shoe box, as I would spend most of my time outdoors enjoying myself. Please forgive me, but I think the people of Cally should be understanding.

    Mr Panayi should take his responsibilities more seriously and obey the planning rules, environmental law, buiding and fire regs…

    You have to put Mr Panayi conduct, in context, when you see all the ugly high-rise council blocks which blight our country, Mr Panayi action and his conversions are the least of our problems.

    I also think the comment about the ‘cows’ is both unfortunate and ‘lost in translation’. Mr Panayi was asked, if he is so wealthy why does n’t he just retire and enjoy the good life. He could be an absentee landlord living in lovely Cyprus. To which Mr Panayi replied (approx) “if a cow is producing milk, you keep milking it”. This is where people have got quite upset and got the wrong end of the stick. It is meant to imply, that so long as Mr Panayi is fit and healthy to work then he should continue working. In other words, the advice from his mother is don’t retire and keep working. It is also about having a serious work ethic. (people have taken it to mean exploit tenants and this is unfortunate….)

    Mr Panayi, seemed a humble man, given that he owns an entire street. He lived in pretty simple accomodation, you would not guess he is wealthy, no bling bling and drug dealer 4×4.

    Please forgive, if my comments offend anyone, but I just don’t like the ‘mob’ attitude. Mr Panayi, has questions to answer….

    [Moderator: this anonymous post has been submitted twice in 24 hours, both times quoting improbable email addresses. Usually this site does not accept comments from authors whose identity is unverifiable. We have waived that rule this time.]

    • July 12, 2012 12:28 pm

      Just watching the programme gives you only a flavour of what has annoyed “the people of the Cally”. I think we do get it. Decent quality housing is a perfectly fair demand. Just because some folk have limited choices and therefore decide to rent such premises doesn’t mean it’s OK. We have many privately rented properties in Islington which have very poor amenities. And very high rents.

      By contrast, the “ugly” high rise Council blocks you mention are built to good standards … and in our Borough the ones that weren’t so good recently got upgraded by the Council’s decent homes programme funded by the last Government. And most Council tenants pay rents that are about a third of the over-inflated open-market rents in this area.

      By the way, our neighbourhood is not in Zone 1. It’s in Zone 2. Also Mr Panayi does not live in the place you saw in the TV programme. That’s his office.

    • Cally Sympathiser permalink
      July 17, 2012 4:46 pm

      Are you a friend of Mr Panayi by any chance? You seem curiously keen to defend him! This is also word-for-word the same as another comment on a different site regarding the activities of Mr P, so I can’t help suspecting a rather clumsy attempt at positive PR.

  6. Jim McKenzie permalink
    July 16, 2012 3:13 pm

    Mr Panayi’s character ought not to be an issue here. But “anon” says he “seemed a humble man … no bling bling and drug dealer 4×4.” Actually Mr Panayi drives a Toyota Land Cruiser while his missus parks-up in a red Mercedes coupe.

  7. anonstudent permalink
    July 18, 2012 4:35 pm

    As one of the aforementioned ‘ young, short stay tenants’ I think it’s both lazy and divisive to suggest that ‘ tenants aren’t here long enough to be bothered.’ I’ve been renting for one year from Panayi, and intend to rent for another calendar. I’m aware, and concerned, by the quality of the flats and their impact on Cally’s permanent communities. However, I feel little is done to make the actions of the council transparent or accessible to newer residents.Rather than creating a divide between the 2 perceived groups, more could and should be done to work together effectively, rather than in opposition.

    • July 18, 2012 6:26 pm

      You are being slightly selective in this quote. I actually said

      “Some of Mr Panayi’s tenants aren’t here long enough to be bothered. But a sizeable number are great people who are equally outraged at his behaviour.”

      We are a place of considerable differences – of age, social class, faiths, ethnicity, housing tenures, incomes and culture. But I am absolutely commited to binding together different groups of people in this neighbourhood – and uniting around the things we have in common.

      You make an interesting observation though about making the actions of the council transparent or accessible to newer residents. I would greatly welcome what you think the Council could do better for newer residents.

    • July 18, 2012 11:45 pm

      Not to mention that whether people are here in the long or short term, they don’t deserve to live in the conditions shown in the documentary.
      If a tenant leaves after six months it’s because they ARE bothered. We need to work to make sure the Council knows about these conditions too, regardless of who’s living them.

      Perhaps more contact when new tenants register for Council Tax?

      • anonstudent permalink
        July 19, 2012 6:32 pm

        I agree with Cally Cows in that housing conditions are equally important to all tenants, no matter how transient or otherwise. It could (possibly) be misconstrued in this article that housing conditions of Panayi’s tenants are secondary to community perception of his properties, when clearly both are equally important (and interlinked!).

        regarding new tenants, as Cally Cows suggested, contact following the registration for council tax would be ideal, as would more regular newsletters,(rather than just around elections), more visible notices regarding public meetings etc. (On a related note, perhaps greater provision of literature regarding renter’s rights when a new lease occurs – i.e new or renewed council tax – has been taken.)

        Out of curiosity, what do you perceive as your existing mechanisms for communicating with newer or younger tenants?

Trackbacks

  1. Councils steps up enforcement action against Cally Landlord | Kings Cross Environment
  2. Cally Road 24-hour “sauna” permanently closed-down by Council « Labour Councillors representing Caledonian Ward in Islington (Paul Convery, Rupert Perry and Charlynne Pullen)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: