A professional landlord who tried to dodge responsibility for his HMO has been ordered to pay two former tenants more than £10,000.
The tenants put in a claim for rent repayment orders from Rasaq Bukoye after he failed to licence the property in Nassau Path, London, but Bukoye denied he was the landlord because the tenancy agreements had named his company B.I.Y. UK Limited instead. He relied on a Supreme Court ruling that only direct landlords could be liable for rent repayment orders.
However, a First Tier Property Tribunal ruled that naming the landlord as B.I.Y was a sham. The judge said: “The respondent failed in his duties as landlord and then compounded the failure by seeking to evade liability with a spurious argument claiming he was not the landlord.”
His tenants told the court how the property was in a state of disrepair throughout much of the tenancy, with a broken toilet and washing machine along with a mice and cockroach infestation. One reported that Bukoye had harassed him after he reported him to Greenwich Council, which identified 29 hazards. They stopped paying rent when the house became in such a state that they did not think it was appropriate.
Bukoye told the court he was a professional landlord with three properties but thought the previous landlord had carried out repairs at the premises. He now has a licence.
It made a small deduction to reflect the rent arrears although the judge said he had sympathy with the tenants’ motives in withholding rent. One was awarded £4,860 and the other, £4,644, along with a £300 application and hearing fee.