Tenant who illegally sub-let five properties as unlicensed HMOs fined £21,000

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019 - Redbridge Council

A tenant who pretended to be the landlord and illegally sublet five family homes has been ordered to pay more than £21,000 after he carved up the properties and rented them out as unsafe bedsits – putting the lives of at least 40 vulnerable residents at risk.

Andrius Cikanavicius had converted the properties into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) without applying for a licence or obtaining permission from the landlord or managing agent.

Horrified Redbridge Council enforcement officers found rooms that could not be opened from the inside without keys – delaying or preventing an escape in the event of a fire.

Other serious breaches of fire safety regulations included a lack of interlinked smoke alarms. Properties did not have fire doors, fire blankets or fire-resistant plasterboard fitted on the underside of the staircase.

The houses were overcrowded and without adequate shared facilities.

Redbridge Council landlord prosecution 2019

Above: signs displayed in Luthuanian and Russian telling the tenants not to open the door to the authorities

Cikanavicius, from Dagenham, was issued with fines totalling £14,600, including £13,300 for fire safety breaches, after appearing before Barkingside Magistrates’ Court on 21 June 2019 when the council prosecuted him over his failure to comply with housing regulations.

He was also ordered to pay £7,000 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

Redbridge Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, Cllr Farah Hussain, said:

It’s appalling that Mr Cikanavicius would put vulnerable people at risk of death, simply for his own profit. This case has exposed a serious abuse of licensing regulations and a man who thought he could charge people hundreds of pounds a month to live in a death trap.

We are serious and determined about improving standards in the private rented sector and we will continue to knock on the door of all suspected HMO’s and unlicensed properties to root out rogue operators and ensure they feel the full force of the law.

Earlier this month. the council announced it had used its powers under housing and planning law to issue 150 financial penalties against illegal operators as an alternative to prosecution.

Licensing is mandatory for all HMO’s within the London Borough of Redbridge and much of the borough is also covered by selective licensing that extends licensing to all other private rented properties.

A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing in the London Borough of Redbridge is available here.

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