Published 5th November 2020
As the nation gears up for a second lockdown to see us into December, it’s hard to deny that the previous month has seen a flurry of enforcement activity in the property market. We’ve seen a significant number of fines being handed out and rogue landlords being caught out by housing officers. In this article we’ve selected the biggest stories we’ve come across.
At Kamma, we understand that property licensing is complex, inconsistent and ever changing. Our technology and software cuts through that complexity to keep you on top of all the changes with clear and accurate advice. We analyse and sort data to help agents, landlords and surveyors understand the impact of Property Licensing and Planning Permission on their properties and assets. By leveraging technology and data, we want to ensure that no tenant has to live in substandard or unsafe accommodation again.
After having ignored six enforcement notices served by his local authority Salim Mussa Patel from Southall has been made the subject of a confiscation order for £207,000, been handed a heft fine £50,000 and made to pay the council’s costs of £49,198. In total the landlord has been ordered to pay over £300,000. He has been given three months to pay the confiscation order or face three years’ imprisonment.
Since 2010 Mr Patel had been renting a number of flats and outbuildings without the required planning permission. Within a period of five years the local council served him 18 planning enforcement notices for the conversion of dwellings into multiple flats and the use of rear outbuildings as further self-contained residential units.
Then, in April 2017, planning enforcement officers and police raided six of these properties and found multiple breaches of enforcement notices. At one address they found a total of 18 people living in a converted three-bedroom dwelling.
Mr Chhokran had been renting out to students but had been caught out as lacking the correct permissions. He was operating the property without the proper HMO licence and as a result has been stung by a Rent Repayment Order claimed by his tenants.
In a report by a tribunal, it states that Mr Chhokran was using the property as a seven-bedroom HMO which was not licensed for the period of October 1 2018 to December 2 2019. His claims that he had indeed applied for the licence and had his application ‘lost’ by the council, were proved to be unsubstantiated.
His first claim was that “he contacted the city council about the progress of his application in January 2019. However that was “undermined by his failure to give the City Council the number of the mobile that he said he used to phone the city council which would have enabled the council to have checked whether such a phone call had been made.
A spokesman from Winchester City Council said “we are aware that the landlord of 72 Stuart Crescent contended that he had submitted a valid application for a HMO licence in September 2018, however we have received no evidence to substantiate this despite giving Mr Chhokran multiple opportunities to provide evidence.
“The council will actively seek to hold landlords who fail in their statutory duty to licence their properties to account.
Mr Chhokran must pay his set of seven tenants £2,571.43 each, totalling £18,000. He must also pay each of the second set of claimants £1,428.57, totalling £10,000.
Mr Bajaj and Mr Ferraiuolo let three small two-bedroom flats in Islington that were found to house over 35 people.
The local council was first alerted by concerned neighbours and subsequently their Environmental Health team investigated the building to find it had no working fire alarm system. In addition, it contained room partitions that were not fire resistant, and fire risks including dangerous electrics.
The tenants slept six to a room in bunk beds, paid rent in cash and had no formal tenancy agreements. The smallest bedrooms were around 50 square foot – smaller than the recommended size for a prison cell according to the council.
The landlords then moved the tenants to other nearby properties which were also found to have large numbers of defects.
Mr Bajaj was found guilty of 15 offences in relation to the management of two properties. Mr Ferraiuolo was found guilty of 35 offences in relation to the letting of one property and management of two others. At a sentencing hearing at Reading Crown Court, Bajaj was fined £100,000; Ferraiuolo was fined £10,500. In addition, Bajaj was ordered to pay £20,000 costs.
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