A leading West London letting agent has to pay fines of more than £42,000 after renting out a squalid and overcrowded shared house.
Hounslow Council housing officers swooped on the home following complaints from tenants.
The raid revealed seven tenants living in five rooms that were cold, damp and mould infested.
A faulty boiler switched off as engineers considered the installation dangerous was turned back on.
Feltham Magistrates also heard a catalogue of other horrors about the dangerous and dilapidated house in multiple occupation (HMO), including problems over fire safety, poor electrics and bad sanitation.
The letting agent, Key Property, of Bell Road, Hounslow, which also trades as Key Property Solutions and Key Lettings, was found guilty of 15 HMO management offences.
Total fines added up to £42,500. The letting agent, whose director is listed as Mrs Adibah Uddin, must also pay £600 compensation to tenants, a victim surcharge of £120 and the council’s costs of £4,320.
Steve Curran, the council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “The fact the fine for failing to have an HMO licence is one of the largest in the country shows the seriousness of the offences.
“I’m pleased magistrates have thrown the book at this criminal letting agent, as the conditions the tenants were living in – no fire alarms, dangerous gas and electrics, and some of the worst damp and mould our officers have ever seen – were, frankly, appalling.
“They took more than £24,000 in rent from these tenants and left them to live in squalor. They tried to avoid their legal responsibilities, but thanks to the hard work of our housing team, we were able to successfully prosecute them.”
A comment on the Key Property Solutions web site, left by a Daniel St John-Hall, says: “Was OK to start with, but when a problem with the property arose they became belligerent, unhelpful, rude and just lied through their teeth. I would highly advise people considering letting through this agency to go anywhere else.”