24 September 2018
A prosecution by London's Islington Council has seen two landlords convicted for a wide range of offences including 35 breaches of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations at three addresses, where tenants were found to be at risk from serious fire safety hazards, overcrowding and disrepair.
The Council claims that in one converted semi-detached Victorian property, officers found 35 people living in four two-bedroom flats. Bedrooms had bunk beds, with up to five or six people sleeping in some rooms.
The building had no fire alarm system, new room partitions that were not fire resistant, and fire risks including dangerous electrics. There were also broken windows. Occupants did not have tenancy agreements and paid rent in cash.
Mr Arun Bajaj, whose family owns the properties and his associate, Antonio Ferraivolo, were both found guilty of multiple offences.
The court heard that neighbours had contacted the police and the landlord about anti-social behaviour at one of the HMOs in Grosvenor Avenue a number of times. They finally contacted the Council “after the disturbances became so frequent and extreme we were fearful for the safety of our family”.
District Judge Williams said that photographs showed the ‘appalling’ state of the accommodation. 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 and Islington is asking for confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Councillor Diarmaid Ward, the Council's executive member for housing and development, said, "We are committed to improving conditions for private tenant and are 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.”