The activities of a huge HMO renting scam gang has been uncovered following a four-year investigation, with the five key individuals and three companies involved fined a total of �434,000.
Following an investigation by West Northamptonshire Council's Private Sector Housing Team, it was found that the group had been operating at least 14 unlicenced HMOs in the region.
Its investigation also discovered multiple breaches relating to fire safety, tenant information and maintenance of the properties after an initial probe in 2019 and Housing Warrants to inspect homes in 2020 and 2021.
The council says the five individuals used a range of false and misleading documents to acquire properties from high street letting agents, purporting to be taking on properties for themselves as single family properties before converting them to HMOs.
They then set up companies to handle the rent payments between themselves, the tenants and the property owners.
Following a trial, the gang has now been found guilty of a 'deliberate, large-scale operation of falsity and that the defendants broke safety laws with no regard to the safety of the tenants, engineered solely for financial gain and profit'�.
The ringleader was Aleksejs Cugurovs, 33, of St Leonards Road, Northampton (pictured), who must now pay a fine of �270,000 - with a contribution to the Council's investigation costs of �5,000.
The other defendants included Maxims Borozdins, 37, who was fined �30,000 with a costs contribution of �5,000, and Valdims Oblikovs, 33, of Riga Latvia, who was fined �2,000.
Other individuals and companies involved, who were not represented in court, were fined lesser amounts.
Councillor Adam Brown (left), Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Culture and Leisure, said: 'This was a well-planned, cunning and conniving scheme for the purposes of financial gain.
'I am pleased the court has imposed a substantial fine which will hopefully deter rogue landlords and persuade them to comply with the law in future.