Criminal landlords in Brent order to pay fines totalling half a million pounds
Court fines paid by criminal landlords in Brent have crossed the half a million pound mark since the council launched their ‘zero-tolerance’ approach in January 2016.
According to the council, an average of two to five prosecutions take place in Brent every month. A total of 44 prosecutions in 2016/2017 led to 89 convictions related to landlord licencing and housing management charges.
Spencer Randolph, Head of Private Housing Services in Brent, said:
“The half a million pound landmark sends a clear message to landlords in Brent: if you don’t have the correct license, you will face hefty fines and a criminal record in court. We are especially targeting our enforcement activity on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO), so if you’re a landlord letting a property to three or more people and they are not all related you need to get the property licenced quickly before you feel the full force of the law.
“Our aim is to improve the living standards for tenants in Brent who are renting private accommodation and this means taking a zero-tolerance approach to rogue landlords who ignore the laws.
“No renter in Brent should be forced to put up with cramped, hazardous and unhygienic conditions. Residents who report their landlords can do so anonymously.”
Around 12 four raids are carried out by the council’s enforcement team in Brent every week, averaging more than 600 raids a year.
Landlords of back garden shanty town shack found guilty
In one recent case, landlords who crammed 31 tenants into a ‘Slumdog Millionaire-esque’ shanty home have been found guilty of breaching landlord licensing rules.
Enforcement officers from Brent Council also found a woman living in a lean-to shed in the back garden of the property, on Napier Road, during a raid on the premises in July last year. The shack had no lighting or heating and was made out of wood offcuts, pallets and tarpaulin.
Inside the house, officers found some residents sharing a single bed with night workers swapping sleeping shifts with those who worked during the day. Four beds were discovered piled into the front room and three in each bedroom.
Mum and daughter, Harsha and Chandani Shah, along with Mrs Harsha Shah’s brother, Sanjay Shah, were pocketing around £112,000 a year by stuffing 31 people into appalling conditions in a four-bedroom house in Wembley.
Jaydipkumar Valand, who collected the rent off the tenants for the Shah family, pleaded guilty at the trial in December last year.
On 23 May 2017, the judge at Willesden Magistrates Court said:
“This trial has revealed how people desperate for accommodation in London can be exploited and have paid to live in grossly overcrowded, unhygienic and unsafe conditions.”
The judge also ordered the defendants to pay Brent Council £35,000 in costs. The four defendants will be sentenced at Crown Court at a later date.
Spencer Randolph, Head of Private Housing Services at Brent Council, added:
“The lean-to shack we found in the back garden of the property in July last year looked like something you would expect to find in a Hollywood depiction of a shanty town.
“We will prosecute any landlord or agent we find housing tenants in cramped or hazardous conditions. Brent’s aim is to help renters by ensuring decent living conditions within the borough.“
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