A family of rogue landlords, mother, her daughter and her bother’s family were making over £100,000 from a single property in Brent before they were caught out overcrowding it.
The tenants were “hot bedding” in the Wembly home, sleeping in shifts in the multi-tenanted property, tightly packed into the house with up to four beds in some rooms.
Some of the 31 tenants living on the site had to sleep in a cobbled together outside shed, made from wood off-cuts, used pallets and covered with tarpaulin.
The judge at Harrow Crown Court ordered Harsha Shah and her daughter, Chandni Shah, to pay back £116,000 by way of a confiscation order. Her brother, Jaydipkumar Valand, who acted as agent and property manager was given a £5,000 order.
Harsha Shah, her brother Sanjay Shah, and with her daughter have to pay £41,000 in fines with additional costs of £82,367. They were ordered to re-pay nearly £250,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The Napier Road property was found to be contravening HMO licensing rules back in May 2017, similar to another property in the nearby location where landlord Vispasp Sarkari was last year fined a record £1.5m for breaking planning laws. He had illegally converted the property into bedsits. He was housing 27 people in a four-bedroom semi, infested with cockroaches, rats and damp.
According to recent government estimates there are over 10,000 rogue landlords operating across the UK, mainly owning some of England’s 500,000 houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
The government has recently implemented new rules governing minimum room sizes: those for sleeping one adult to be no smaller than 6.5 square metres (70 square feet), and for two adults, no less than 10.2 square metres. Rooms for children of 10 years and younger to be no less than 4.6 square metres.
Brent councillor Eleanor Southwood said:
“We will use every legal power we have to come down hard onlandlords and agents who exploit tenants in Brent. Every house in multipleoccupation needs a licence, which helps to create decent living standards inthe borough. We will track down on landlords who do not licence theirproperties and rip off tenants by housing them in miserable conditions.”
Meanwhile, more landlords in Brent have been ordered to re-pay illegal income or face prison.
At Harrow Crown Court Mohammad Ishaq and his wife, ShamimAkhtar of Clifford Way, Neasden, converted a houses at Glynfield Road and Belton Roads into 18 tiny flats without planning consent and received a total of £322,282 in rent.
A confiscation order for the pair was made out on 12 December under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The couple, who had pleaded guilty to the planning offences at Willesden Magistrates Court in May, were referred to Harrow Crown Court for confiscation and sentencing, and they must now payback the rental income they received illegally.
In addition to the confiscation order, the landlords were each fined £10,000 plus court and the council’s costs for failing to comply with planning enforcement notices, and a subsequent appeal brought by the landlord couple had failed.