£162,000 fine after 18 people found living in an unsafe and overcrowded flat near the Royal Albert Hall
The landlord of an overcrowded flat which lacked proper fire precautions and had a dangerous boiler and two companies of which he was a director have been fined £162,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,498.
The sentence was handed down at Hammersmith Magistrates Court on 11 October 2016 after they were found guilty of failing to license a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and 22 further charges under HMO Management Regulations.
Mr Abbas Rasul (64) of The Quadrangle, Cambridge Square, London W2, Grosvenor Property Investments Ltd and London Victoria Estates Ltd, were charged after Environmental Health Officers from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea inspected a flat in Hyde Park Gate, SW7 on 25 November 2015 following a complaint from a tenant.
The defendants did not appear in court and had requested an adjournment. However the court was satisfied that every effort had been made to inform all parties that if they did not attend the case would go ahead in their absence. The court was also aware that the defendants had failed to appear for earlier hearings.
The property was one of three flats in a Grade II listed building and had been poorly converted, just a short walk from the prestigious Royal Albert Hall. Officers found that the large flat was being let to more than 18 tenants. It had been subdivided into small units using flimsy plasterboard partitions and comprised 14 rooms.
Photo showing a plasterboard partition inserted against one of the windows.
The tenants were from a variety of backgrounds and occupations and were paying an average rent of £800 per month. With 14 separate rooms, this could have generated over £10,000 a month in rent.
There were no fire doors, smoke detectors or alarms in the overcrowded flat which had one kitchen shared by all the tenants. The gas boiler had not been serviced and had a cracked flue which was dangerous. Due to the way the flat had been subdivided some rooms had no electric light fittings in the ceiling which led to extension leads and trailing wires running through the property.
Photo showing colapsed ceiling in stairway with smoke alarm hanging off.
Conditions witnessed posed such a risk to safety that Environmental Health Officers issued a Prohibition Order to prevent further use of the flat.
On sentencing, the magistrates said:
“We have paid particular attention in our sentencing to the matters we deemed with overriding concern of potential immediate dangers, those being the fire safety hazards. In coming to our decision we took into consideration there had been a lack of compliance over considerable amount of time and an attempt to obstruct officers in their investigations. There is evidence of substantial disregard of their obligation to protect the tenants whilst they are living at the property.“