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Landlord prosecuted after Islington Council find 35 people living in converted Victorian semi detached house

Sunday, September 23, 2018 - Islington Council

Two private landlords have been found guilty of managing Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) with dangerous and sub-standard conditions, following a successful prosecution by Islington Council.

Environmental Health Officers witnessed 35 breaches of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations at three addresses in Grosvenor Avenue and Seven Sisters Road, where tenants were found to be at risk from serious fire safety hazards, overcrowding and disrepair.

In one converted semi-detached Victorian property on Grosvenor Avenue, council officers found 35 people living in four two-bedroom flats.  Many bedrooms had bunk beds, with up to five or six people sleeping in some rooms. The building had no fire alarm system, partition walls that were not fire resistant, and fire risks including dangerous electrics. There were also broken windows. There were no written tenancy agreements and the occupants paid their rent in cash.

Islington Council landlord prosecution 2018

Photo: overcrowded conditions with stud partition wall midway across window so no fire separation between rooms (Grosvenor Avenue property)

Neighbours had contacted the police and landlord Arun Bajaj about anti-social behaviour a number of times in 2016, finally contacting Environmental Health at Islington Council “after the disturbances became so frequent and extreme we were fearful for the safety of our family”.

After visiting the property on Grosvenor Avenue, council officers later discovered that people living in the house had been moved to two other properties on Seven Sisters Road N4. As a result, these properties were also inspected and council officers again discovered overcrowded conditions and serious fire safety hazards. The occupants did not have written tenancy agreements and paid their rent in cash.

Islington Council landlord prosecution 2018

Photo: smoke alarm taped over to prevent it from operating (Seven Sisters Road property)

On 27 July 2018 at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court Arun Bajaj, of Bradford Street, Birmingham, whose family owns all of the properties, was found guilty of 15 offences in relation to the management of the two properties in Seven Sisters Road, N4. Both of the HMOs were found to be overcrowded, with inadequate fire precautions and disrepair including unsafe electrics.

His associate, Antonio Ferraivolo, of Seven Sisters Road, London, was found guilty of 35 offences in relation to the management of the two properties in Seven Sisters Road, N4, and also the property in Grosvenor Avenue.

In her judgment, District Judge Williams said that photographs of Grosvenor Avenue and Seven Sisters Road clearly showed the appalling state the properties were in; there was serious overcrowding, and the breaches of the various regulations were clearly proved by the evidence provided by Islington Council.

Sentencing has been referred to the Crown Court, where the council is seeking confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, executive member for housing and development, Islington Council said:

Islington Council is committed to improving conditions for private tenants, and is determined that private landlords provide homes that are decent, safe and suitable to live in.

Many landlords do the right thing and look after their tenants, but landlords who put tenants at risk will be held to account by the council and by the courts.

More information about property licensing rules in London Borough of Islington can be found here.

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