Reading council has successfully prosecuted a rogue HMO landlord.

Yet another so called rogue landlord, this time a Reading man, has been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £3,343 costs as well as a victim surcharge of £120 after a successful prosecution by Reading Borough Council.

Hafiz Mohammed Gulfraz, aged 43, of Andrews Road, Reading, has admitted having control of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) without a licence. In addition Gulfraz breached an emergency prohibition order and he even intentionally disrupted the gas and electricity supply to the property on top of a string of safety breaches.

Most of the offences took place in 2015 and related to a property on Oxford Road, Reading. Defendant Gulfraz was charged with 12 offences which included 5 that the magistrates considered very serious and on which the significant fine was based. These included failing to ensure that the fire alarm and emergency lighting were maintained in good working order and intentionally depriving tenants of heat and light supply.

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The magistrate’s court said that the case was one of the worst that it had ever dealt with.

The Councils Private Sector Housing Team began their investigation back in January this year, after one of the tenants then living at the property reported the landlord to the Council. Council Officers inspecting found a number of health and safety hazards at the property, including excess cold due to the gas central heating system having being disconnected on one of the coldest weeks of the year.

The Council believed that the tenants living in the property were in imminent risk of harm and as such, an emergency prohibition order was required and served. In addition the property did not have a license as an HMO – a house in multiple occupation – even though there were five tenants living there.

Richard Davies, Lead Councillor for Housing at Reading Borough Council, said:

“The private rented sector is large in Reading and is a rapidly growing market. Most landlords provide decent and well managed homes but there are a few who do not meet the standards their tenants have a right to expect.

“The Council will always stand up for residents who live in private rented accommodation. We take our regulatory duties for HMOs very seriously and will prosecute those who flout the law.”

The Council investigates complaints from the public concerning disrepair in the Private Rented Sector; harassment of vulnerable tenants and unlicensed HMOs. Tenants and members of the public can contact the Council on 0118 9372151 or via email to HEP@reading.gov.uk to report a rogue landlord who they feel is not meeting their legal duties in providing a safe and healthy environment for their tenants.

Find out more at www.reading.gov.uk/hmo

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