Four year banning order made against rent to rent landlord who let out unsafe accommodation in Camden
A so-called ‘rent to rent’ landlord who rented properties from the owner and then sub-let them by the room has been banned from operating in the private rented sector for four years following a hearing before the First-tier Tribunal on Monday 21 October 2019.
Having considered the case, the First-tier Tribunal imposed the banning order on Friday 8 November 2019, the effect of which is to ban Cesar De Sousa Melo, 45, of Mora Street, EC1, for four years from letting any housing in England and engaging in English letting agency work or property management work. The ban takes effect from Sunday, 8 March 2020.
If the banning order is breached, penalties can include prosecution leading to a hefty fine and imprisonment for up to 51 weeks. Alternatively, the council can impose a civil penalty of up to £30,000 for each breach.
Mr Melo was brought to the attention of Camden Council following a rogue landlord referral received in May 2018 via the Greater London Authority and Mayor of London website.
The council’s investigations established that he was involved in letting several unlicensed houses in multiple occupation.
A raid on a flat in Goldington Crescent, King’s Cross in June 2018 found three bedrooms with bunk beds in some rooms, fire safety issues and general disrepair, for which Mr Melo received two Civil Penalty Notices with fines totalling £15,000.
Tenants’ health and safety at Goldington Crescent was placed at risk through faulty fire alarms, a kitchen door broken off its hinges and the property being overcrowded as the kitchen was too small. It was also further overcrowded with four bunk bed spaces in one room and three beds plus two bunk bed spaces in another two rooms, packed in to ensure maximum commercial advantage.
In August 2018, warrants of entry were obtained and inspections carried out on a flat on Stanhope Street, Euston and on a flat on Gray’s Inn Road, Kings Cross, after previous attempts to gain access had failed. These inspections found multiple breaches of the Housing Act 2004.
Mr Melo was convicted at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on 4 April 2019 of seven ‘banning order offences’, committed on 14 September 2018 at the Stanhope Street and Gray’s Inn Road flats. He was fined £14,000.
The management of the flat on Stanhope Street placed lives at risk as two tenants were sleeping in a bedroom created by a shoddy partition dividing the kitchen/diner. This left the two tenants with a means of escape through a kitchen – the flat was on the seventh floor and there was no working smoke alarms anywhere in the flat. The electrics in the flat were dangerous and only one room in the entire flat had any working heating.
Photo: showing bedroom with only fire escape route via the kitchen
Tenants’ health and safety at Gray’s Inn Road was also compromised through inadequate fire alarms. All tenants were young or tenants from overseas who were vulnerable and able to be exploited with high rents in return for low housing standards.
Mr Melo had issued some tenants with tenancy agreements in which he stated he was the landlord, although it was found he was renting the properties from the owner and then sub-letting individual rooms.
Camden Council have confirmed his involvement in all these flats has now ceased and they have been made safe.
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