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Family of rogue landlords guilty of 'Shanty Town' overcrowding

A family of rogue landlords who crammed 31 tenants into a 'Slumdog Millionaire'-style shanty home have this month been found guilty of breaching licensing rules.

Mother and daughter Harsha and Chandani Shah, along with Harsha Shah's brother Sanjay, were pocketing around £112,000 a year by stuffing 31 people into what Brent council describes as “appalling conditions” in a four-bedroom house in Wembley.

Jaydipkumar Valand, who collected the rent off the tenants for the Shah family, pleaded guilty at an earlier trial.

The four defendants will be sentenced at Crown Court at a later date.

Enforcement officers from the council also found a woman living in a lean-to shed in the back garden of the property during a raid on the premises in July last year. 

The shack had no lighting or heating and was made out of wood offcuts, pallets and tarpaulin.

Inside the house, officers found some residents sharing a single bed with night workers swapping sleeping shifts with those who worked during the day. Four beds were discovered piled into the front room and three in each bedroom.

A judge at Willesden Magistrates Court said: "This trial has revealed how people desperate for accommodation in London can be exploited and have paid to live in grossly overcrowded, unhygienic and unsafe conditions."

The judge also ordered the defendants to pay the council £35,000 in costs.

This month, fines paid to the courts by criminal landlords following successful prosecutions by Brent council passed the £500,000 mark. The council's enforcement activity results in two to five prosecutions every month.

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