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Tooting rent to rent landlord faces prison sentence if he breaches banning order

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 - Wandsworth Council

Banning order

A rogue landlord who unlawfully rented out cramped and overcrowded bedsits and then bullied and harassed the tenants when they complained about the conditions, has been fined thousands of pounds and warned he’ll go straight to jail if he tries to rent out other properties.

Balazs Stalter was prosecuted by the council’s housing team after receiving complaints from people who’d been renting accommodation from him.

They discovered that Mr Stalter had been renting the family sized properties himself and then unlawfully converting them into bedsits.

He rented out a property in Longmead Road, Tooting, to five sub-tenants after switching the living room and dining room into bedrooms, with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities.

He did so without planning consent nor registering the property as a House in Multiple Occupation, a legal requirement that ensures this type of accommodation complies with fire safety rules and acceptable living standards.

When Mr Stalter found out that some of the tenants had complained to the council, he waged a campaign of harassment against them.

This included tampering with their water, gas and electricity supplies – and gluing up their locks.

He even resorted to posting fake and negative online reviews of the company owned by the family of one of his tenants, which led to him receiving a formal police warning.

When the case reached court at the end of last year Mr Stalter was convicted of unlawfully operating an HMO without a licence.

During his trial in the Magistrates’ Court, Mr Stalter produced a ‘tenancy agreement’ for the first time, which contained the signature of one his tenants “confirming” that the room he rented was not his permanent residence.

However, the document was fraudulent and the signature forged. The tenant in question had returned to his native New Zealand and was living on the other side of the world at the time the agreement was “signed”.

In court Mr Stalter was fined £1,858 and ordered to pay the council’s prosecution costs of £2,089 plus a victim surcharge of £170. The council also successfully applied for a banning order preventing him from operating as a landlord. If he breaches this order it is a criminal offence carrying a minimum term of three months imprisonment.

Last week at Kingston Crown Court Mr Stalter appealed against the fines imposed by the magistrates and the banning order.

A video link to New Zealand saw the tenant whose signature was on the forged document testify that he had never seen the document in question and had never signed it.

Mr Stalter’s appeal was dismissed and he was ordered to pay a further £3,818 in costs.

Wandsworth’s cabinet member for housing Cllr Kim Caddy said:

By his own disgraceful and unacceptable behaviour Mr Stalter has shown he is an unfit person to be a landlord. I’m delighted we’ve been able to take concerted action in the courts to not only secure justice for his tenants but to prevent him victimising any others in the future.

A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing in the London Borough of Wandsworth is available here.

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