Lettings companies and an organised group of criminals described as a “gang of chancers” have been hit with fines and costs totalling around £79,000 after letting properties using fake names and businesses.
Q Lion Management Limited and London Rooms Rental Limited were prosecuted as part of the case, along with six individuals. Flatshare London Limited and Valenberg Properties Limited also faced prosecution, but the companies were dissolved shortly before the trial.
The activities conducted by these firms and individuals came to the attention of Newham council’s private rented sector licensing team over three years ago when the names of one of the individuals - Luis Liming - appeared on a tenancy agreement in a house which was not licenced as a rental property.
At the time, the home owner was prosecuted for failing to licence his property.
But as the licensing team carried out more operations they uncovered several tenants with agreements naming Limongi, one of his accomplices or any one or more of up to 25 businesses which would then by rapidly dissolved.
Tenants within the same property would often have tenancy agreements with different companies run by the group named as landlords and complained to the council that these companies were impossible to contact.
They also reported that rent had to be paid in cash and collected by different people. Their deposits were not placed in deposit protection schemes.
When officers visited these properties they saw that the houses had been converted into bedsits without permission from the council, and the master room in the house would often include a flimsy partition to create an extra room. There was also minimal fire safety in the properties.
Now the individuals and representatives of the companies have faced Thames Magistrates’ Court to answer 115 charges, relating to five properties - two of these properties were owned by Luis Limongi and three others had been rented by the group and then sub-let without the permission of the owner.
The 115 charges included failure to licence the properties, several breaches of safety conditions under the relevant HMO regulations and failure to co-operate with the council’s requests for documentation, such as safety certificates and details of deposit protection schemes.
Luis Limongi, pleaded guilty to a total of 38 charges. He was ordered to pay £18,450 of fines and £10,415 of costs.
Ney Limongi, pleaded guilty to a total of 46 charges. He was ordered to pay £14,040 of fines and £14,690 of costs.
Christian Limongi, was found guilty in his absence and ordered to pay £4,050 fines for 12 charges, and costs of £3,456.
Lenner Guaman was found guilty of one charge in his absence and ordered to pay a £300 fine and £250 costs.
Leandro Velez was found guilty of 12 charges in his absence and ordered to pay £4,050 and costs of £1,832.
Alex Ibarra was found guilty of seven charges in his absence and fined £2,550 and ordered to pay costs of £4,275.
London Rooms Rental Limited was also charged with one offence and fined £300 and ordered to pay costs of £250.
In total the group were ordered to pay fines of £43,740 and the council’s costs for their investigations of £35,168.
After the trial a spokesman for the council described the convicted individuals as a “gang of chancers.”