Duplicitous’ landlord who harassed tenants and left them in dangerous accommodation must pay over £50,000 following investigation by Waltham Forest Council
A private landlord who left his tenants living in “atrocious conditions” at their rented property has been hit with a fine of over £50,000.
Arbab Ahmed was brought to book on 10 housing violations at Stratford Magistrates Court by Waltham Forest Council, in a case that has been running for two and a half years.
Mr Ahmed rented two properties, one a shop premises with minimal residential adaptations made, on Vicarage Road, Leyton. Both were unlicensed and infested with rodents.
A second defendant Eden Homes who acted as Mr Ahmed’s managing agent has also been fined.
Property Licensing officers had visited the premises in June 2019 after a complaint by a tenant. Mr Ahmed harassed the tenant by arranging for their gas meter to be removed, leaving the household without heating or hot water.
An investigation by Waltham Forest’s private sector housing and licensing team found 30 faults and the upstairs flat being rented out), with up to six men sharing the cramped property, including two in the tiny attic.
The property in Vicarage Road was arranged as two flats, and in addition to the poorly adapted shop which was occupied by one family, there was a second flat that extended over three floors with a poorly constructed and part-completed rear extension and a ladder providing access to the attic space which had just been boarded and carpeted for use as a makeshift bedroom
The officer also found evidence that the house was infested with rodents, inadequate locks to the ground floor flat, cracked tiles in the bathrooms, leaking waste pipes to the ground floor bathroom, defective smoke alarm to the ground floor hallway, a faulty boiler and lack of fire doors.
A month after the first visit a Prohibition Order was served to prohibit the use of the ground floor commercial unit as residential accommodation, and an Interim Management Order (IMO) was made in respect of the first floor flat allowing the Council to take full management control. Under the IMO Ahmed was forbidden to access the property or contact, harass or bully the tenants living in it.
By October the landlord, of Eastern Avenue, Ilford, was charged with seven offences including failure to licence a property contrary to Section 95(1) of the Housing Act.
He was also found to have flouted the IMO and was kept in custody for a 7-day period as part of a separate action in 2019.
On 9 December 2021 the case was heard in his absence. Eden Homes pleaded guilty to three charges and were sentenced.
Finding Arbab Ahmed guilty of all 10 licensing and HMO Management Regulation charges, District Judge William Nelson called the defendant “duplicitous” and said he “deceived multiple tenants”. He also commented on the premises being in “an atrocious condition”, adding “nobody should be in a house where they are sleeping next to rodent droppings”.
Praising Waltham Forest’s Property Licensing team, he said the prosecution was “properly brought” and had been presented in such a way as to enable him to conduct the matter succinctly. He said Arbab Ahmed had caused a “significant degree of harm” to his tenants, a number of whom were vulnerable people on low incomes and whose first language was not English limiting their ability to complain about their circumstances.
This, he said, placed the defendant in a commanding position and, by treating the property in this way, put those “families at risk”. It was therefore categorised as high harm. The Council fully supported the tenants of the property, by making appropriate referrals to the Council’s partner agencies and ensuring they were rehoused by Waltham Forest’s Housing Team. The previous tenant bravely came forward with the help of an interpreter and gave evidence at the trial, which helped to seal the landlord’s conviction.
The judge fined Arbab Ahmed £45,000. He also said the defendant should pay the Council’s costs of £14,404.08.
Centaurus Estates (trading as Eden Homes) had previously pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and were fined £3,700 with a Victim Surcharge of £180 and also ordered to pay £1,557.76 towards the Council’s costs.
Cllr Louise Mitchell, Waltham Forest Council’s Cabinet member for Housing and Homelessness Prevention, said:
“Arbab Ahmed is among the worst of the worst landlords that our team has ever encountered – and the District Judge certainly agreed.
“The tenants in his property were living in appalling, dangerous and unsanitary conditions, and when they raised complaints, they were harassed by the landlord as he tried to avoid taking responsibility for his actions.
“We will always use the full extent of our powers to crack down on landlords who try to exploit their tenants, but cases like this show once again the very real need to ensure that landlords are registered, so that people like Ahmed are stopped from treating innocent people in this way.“
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