Husband and wife landlord team Mr Abul Azad and his wife, Ashrafi have been successfully prosecuted by Bexley Council for illegally overcrowding a bungalow they let.
After contravening a Notice of Over-Crowding and a Prohibition Order served on them for the property they own and rent out in Pembroke Road, Erith, their joint fines, penalties and costs totalled over £8,000
Bexley Magistrates were told that the property owned by Azad and his wife, who also live in Pembroke Road, had had complaints to the Council about noise and excessive generation of rubbish since 2014.
In 2016 a fire started at the bungalow had a tenant jumping from a window to escape the flames, but escaped uninjured. However, at the time it was reported to the Council as a possible house of multiple occupation (HMO) by the London Fire Brigade.
Following this incident a Notice of Over-Crowding was issued on the property after a Council inspection. At the time the bungalow was found to be housing 17 beds, including using the roof space as bed space. Azad was given a schedule setting out the maximum number of 8 people to be allowed in the whole of the property and was told to inform the Council before re-letting after repairs.
After a further spot inspection by the Council it was found that 4 people were still living in the property despite the extensive fire damage, making the staircase unsafe and the house unsafe for habitation. As a result of this visit a Prohibition Order was served banning the property from being used for sleeping and living.
Azad agreed that he would not re-let the property again until all necessary remedial works had been carried out, but again despite all this, a further unannounced visit found it occupied by 9 people, allegedly from one family, but they had different names.
Yet another visit and inspection was made in April 2018 which revealed 15 bed spaces, three of which were in the living room and included a double mattress under the stair case. Most of the works specified in the Prohibition Order had still not been completed at this time.
In court Azad pleaded guilty to all charges, of contravening the Notice of Over-Crowding and the Prohibition Order. On 18 February 2019 Mr Azad was fined £1,660 for contravening the Over-Crowding Notice and £3,300 for contravening the Prohibition Order. He was ordered to pay £200 legal costs and £890.44 investigative costs. He has since also been ordered to pay a Victim Surcharge of £170.
On 4 March 2019, Mrs Azad, who did not attend court, was fined £1,000 for contravening the Prohibition Order and ordered to pay £200 legal costs; £890.44 investigative costs and a Victim Surcharge of £100. There was no separate penalty for the first charge of contravening the Notice.
After the case, Councillor Peter Craske, Cabinet Member for Places said:
“I am delighted with this successful prosecution. Bexley has no hesitation in prosecuting greedy landlords who have complete disregard for the health and safety of their tenants. These two ignored advice and guidance by our officers aimed at helping them rent their property legally and safely – and then went on to flagrantly flout the Over-Crowding Notice and Prohibition Order which were rightly issued.
“They are very lucky that they weren’t facing far more serious charges, which they would have been had anyone been killed or injured due to their total negligence.”