Presented below are a selection of shocking recent examples of landlords who committed crimes through incompetence and neglect in some instances, through scheming and nastiness in others. All were caught; all were punished.
In October 2011, Israr Fazal and his son Shahbaz were sentenced to 3 months each at Manchester Crown Court, the former for six fire and safety offences, the latter for housing condition charges and fire and safety offences.
Many, however, considered their sentence to be far too lenient considering the moral bankruptcy displayed by the pair. Israr lived in a home worth £1.3m whilst he exploited the vulnerable. Up to 12 families, most of them Eastern European couples with very young children were being charged £100 per week to live in atrocious conditions in an inner city area of Manchester.
Following a complaint, council investigators discovered serious health and safety failings in the flats, including damaged electric and gas metres, and bare electrical wires hanging from the ceiling. One flat had had its electrics bypassed. There was no emergency lighting in the building, and there was no means of escape as all the fire exits were blocked.
Passing sentence, Judge Roger Thomas QC said to them, “It’s wholly evident from the photographs and the description that the people who lived in those flats were living in squalor effectively.
“Having taken those flats you must have done very little indeed to make the accommodation habitable for the poor people who lived there and from whom you took weekly cash payments.
“The bigger thing that one can’t help but remark on is while you were trading in that way, you for your own personal comfort were living at the very opposite end of the housing spectrum.
“You were being treated to a very substantial home yet while you were living in the lap of luxury the people you were responsible for were living in slum conditions.
“No fire broke out and nobody was injured but the risk was very real and your culpability is considerable.”
But this was far from Israr’s first offence – While running a curry house in 1997, he was convicted for trading when he was bankrupt. In 2001 he was jailed for 18 months after kidnapping and threatening to kill a Sikh priest following an argument over his daughter’s arranged marriage. In March 2011 he was fined £3,000 after admitting offences under the Food Hygiene Act after environmental health officers raided his cash and carry store.
Council officials said the two men put ”personal financial gain before the safety of these tenants.” They were each ordered to pay court costs of £8,975
Manchester councillor Paul Andrews said after the case, ”It is absolutely shocking that a landlord in 21st century Manchester is content to let a family live in this kind of squalor, when he is living content in Hale Barns surrounded by rich footballers.
”Slum landlords should be a thing of the past and I hope this serves as a warning to others who think they can rent out revolting properties and get away with it.”
In February 2012, rogue landlord Abdul Naeem Hanif, 38, faced 20 charges at Reading Magistrates Court related to the dangerous and dirty living conditions he forced his tenant to live in.
Among the problems included damage to an electric socket outlet, extractor fan, smoke detector, door handle, and cooker. He also failed to maintain the gas supply, which led to inadequate heating, hot water and cooking facilities. He ignored Reading Borough Council’s repeated requests for information about the property.
He was fined £665, but was unable to pay. So they gave him one day’s imprisonment in default of the fine to run concurrently with a sentence of four years he was serving for separate drugs offences.
Reading’s lead councillor for housing and neighbourhoods Rachel Eden said, “I was genuinely shocked by the conditions I saw when I met the tenants living in this property.
“I’m relieved that they are no longer having to put up with this. While most landlords are responsible, the council will continue to take action against rogue landlords who refuse to provide decent accommodation in order protect tenants as well as support landlords who want to improve the standard of accommodation they provide.”
Out of the 20 charges levelled against him he was convicted of 13, including breaches of the Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006, Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Section 16 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.
Closer to home, Leeds Magistrates Court fined Nigel Hassan £7,000 and ordered him to pay costs of £1,420 together with a victim surcharge of £15 for failing to license his property in late 2011.
As part of a campaign to improve housing in the Cross Green and East End Park areas, the selective licensing scheme requires that owners of privately-rented properties have a licence to operate.
Under the scheme, all landlords who rent out property in the Cross Green selective licensing area must make an application for a permit before letting the property.
Councillor Peter Gruen, the council’s executive member for housing, said, “This is another successful outcome, and serves as a further warning to landlords who are still ignoring the rules.
“There are plenty of landlords who are working with the council to ensure this scheme works. It is important landlords understand the results of not obtaining a licence.”
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