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£40,000 bill after squalid HMO found to be massively overcrowded

A rogue landlord faces a court bill of almost £40,000 after being caught cramming 24 people into a house in north London.   

Willesden Magistrates’ Court has heard Tilak Raj Sarna of Pinner initially claim innocence but then accept his guilt after two days of cross examination. 

Brent council granted Sarna a licence to house seven people at his house in multiple occupation in Wembley, but when housing officers made an unannounced visit to the house in Januarythis year they found 24 tenants living there, including seven families with 10 young children.

The council says the squalid conditions at the house included an infestation of cockroaches, missing smoke alarms, overloaded electrical sockets and inadequate fire doors, cold and damp rooms, and dustbins overflowing outside the house. 

Six tenants lived in an unheated shed in the house’s back garden until it burnt down in October last year in a fire caused by a portable heater. The council says the blaze, which started while a child was asleep in the shed, was exacerbated by the sheer number of people living in such a small space.

Sarna’s overcrowding and fire safety offences led to fines totalling £33,000 being imporsed. He was also ordered to pay costs of £6,420 and a £120 victim surcharge, making a total of £39,540.

The case also saw a prosecution for Anila Patel, who collected £3,700 monthly rent from the tenants on the landlord’s behalf. She was convicted of two offences and fined £1,000 and told to pay a £90 victim surcharge.

All the tenants living in the property have since found alternative accommodation.

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