Luton landlord Mervyn Kupshik has been ordered to pay nearly £30,000 to the Local council - and if he doesn’t do it in three months he could face a hefty prison term.
Kupshik, who operated five properties as houses in multiple occupation in Luton, was found to be in breach of house in multiple occupation regulations at each of those properties.
Not only that but he had failed to license them and the council claims he paid scant regard to fire regulations.
A court which heard the council’s case against him noted that even though the breaches were for a relatively short period of time they could have had catastrophic consequences for occupants.
The catalogue of contraventions included blocked fire exits; faulty wiring and electrical equipment; combustible material present in key escape routes; no devices for detection of fire – or where these were present, they weren’t working properly. Additionally the houses were in a generalstate of disrepair with holes in the walls and broken glass.
The defendant was told to pay using legislation under the Proceeds of Crime Act which deprives criminals the use of their assets.
Councillor Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing, says: “Once again through the hard work of council officers the lives of tenants in Luton have been made safer. The implications of this case will, I hope, cause any rogue landlord to sleep badly at night.
“Often unscrupulous individuals see the opportunity to make a fast buck without any regard for those they exploit. The law around houses in multiple occupation is there to protect the vulnerable and stop them from living in squalid unsafe conditions.
“This is the first time the council has brought a case against a private sector landlord using the powers of POCA. We hope it will be the last, but are not afraid to bring further prosecutions if necessary. Our message is clear: if you play fast and loose with your tenants, we will make you pay.”