Squalid and Cramped HMO Triggers £327,000 Penalty
A landlord and letting agent must pay a massive £327,000 in fines and costs for running a cramped and squalid house shared by 18 tenants and six children.
Magistrates at Bristol were told the families lived in seven small flats in a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
The council’s housing officers found the house was shoddily converted into an HMO and feared for the safety of the tenants as the property was in poor repair and had no fire alarms.
The council team also found the bathrooms were small and filthy; walls and ceilings had holes that could allow fire or smoke to pass through the building easily; fire escapes were blocked, doors would not close or lock; kitchens were damaged, and the property’s electrics were in a bad state.
Landlord Lloyd Beckford and letting agent Adam Habane were found guilty of a catalogue of HMO offences. They managed the property through two companies of which they are directors – Ashley Marketing Services Ltd and Eunicare Ltd.
The council banned the pair from taking new tenants after the officers visited in September 2019 and ordered works to bring the property up to a reasonable standard. In March 2020, they revisited the HMO and found little work had been done to add to their woes; tenants had no heating or hot water.
Councillor Helen Godwin, Bristol City Council’s Cabinet Member for Women, Children and Homes, said: “We are committed to protecting people in private housing against the risks posed by poor property management and unacceptable conditions. This case illustrates clearly that we will use appropriate powers to prosecute those who put tenants in danger through their own neglect or sub-standard practices.”
Four-year ban for ‘worst ever’ HMO landlord
In a separate case, the council also hauled another landlord back before the court to pick up a four-year ban on letting property.
Depak Sachdeva was ordered to pay fines and costs of £88,500 in March 2020 for an appalling list of HMO offences – including making tenants sleep in cupboards and squashed into the eaves of a flat above a shop.
At the time, the council stated his HMO had the worst living conditions they had come across.
The council asked Sachdeva should have a 10-year letting ban, but the First Tier Property Tribunal ruled this was ‘inappropriate’ and ordered a four-year ban instead.
Judge Jonathan Dobson said: "The respondent was a rogue landlord who had failed by a large margin to meet his legal obligations and who had exploited the occupiers by providing substandard and dangerous accommodation."
Drunk landlord swore at judge
Also before the crown court in Bristol was landlord Jayne Brown, 51, who turned up for an HMO fire safety case drunk. She swore at the prosecutor and judge, claiming she suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome, which her lawyer denied.
The judge remanded her in custody to recover from her condition. Brown admitted ignoring a prohibition order imposed on the HMO for breaches of fire safety laws. The court heard she was too ill to attend the adjourned sentencing hearing.
A landlord must pay £740,000 or go to jail
Landlord Mohammed Mehdi Ali must repay £740,000 in rent or go to jail for failing to obey planning enforcement notices against illegally shared homes.
Ali faces nearly six years in prison if the money is not repaid by the end of May. The money is a confiscation order after the landlord was found guilty of converting four homes into 38 flats without planning permission.
His father, Salah Ali, was also found guilty of the planning breaches at Willesden Magistrates Court in April 2018 and ordered to pay £544,000 for two of the properties.
Cllr Shama Tatler, Lead Member for Regeneration, Property & Planning, said: “This is another huge win for Brent. The council will take robust action to prevent the creation of poor quality housing.
“This penalty sends a clear message that rogue landlords will not be allowed to get away with ignoring planning laws. The accommodation provided was some of the worst residential accommodation that officers have ever come across. Brent will not tolerate this type of behaviour, landlords providing such horrible conditions. Brent residents deserve better.”
First sex for rent landlord in court
Landlord Christopher Cox is on bail in Britain’s first sex for rent case before Guildford Crown Court. Cox, 52, allegedly posted adverts on Craigslist's website offering homeless women homes in exchange for sex.
The charges followed an investigation by ITV programme researchers. He faces three charges, offering no plea on two and a not guilty plea on a third in a preliminary hearing.
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