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Letting agents and landlord fined for overcrowding

A letting agency has been fined after one of its landlords was found to be cramming six families into an unlicensed property.

Easy Let Homes, which collected rent on the landlord's behalf, pleaded guilty to offences under the Housing Act 2004 and was fined £450 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £45.

Prosecutors at Willesden Magistrates Court said they had taken into consideration that the agency had fully cooperated with the investigation.

The landlord, Mohammed Mehdi Ali, was also prosecuted under the Housing Act 2004 and was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,318 and a victim surcharge of £170 – a total of £7,488. 

Brent Council prosecuted Ali after a raid by council enforcement officers found 16 people – of which at least six were children – to be living in the property which was originally built as a four-bedroom family home.

The landlord had converted the property so it consisted of six bedsit-style rooms with a shared kitchen and bathroom.

The property was unlicensed and council representatives said that the overcrowding was made worse by the landlord's 'blatant disregard' for basic fire safety measures.

There were no smoke alarms or adequate fire doors installed in the Wembley property, despite it generating a minimum of £2,300 per month for the landlord. 

Ali lives next door to the rental property and the court considered this to be an 'aggravating factor' as it meant he would have been fully aware of what was going on.

The landlord did not attend his court hearing. 

“Given the serious overcrowding and poor fire safety in this house, we could easily be reflecting on a much more serious crime here," said Councillor Harbi Farah, Brent Council’s Lead Member for Housing.

He said the council takes a zero tolerance policy approach to those who think they can treat their tenants in this way, while reminding letting agents and landlords that failure to licence a rental property could result in an unlimited fine and criminal record.

Just last week Brent Council announced that it had succeeded in fining a letting agency and one of its landlords a combined total of over £20,000 for failing to licence a rental property and ignoring requests for maintenance work.

The authority has been prolific in prosecuting landlords and agents in recent months, claiming to have raided over 100 unlicensed properties and successfully prosecuted 35 landlords in the nine months to August.

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