A rogue landlord and the property company he ran have been fined £22,000 for dishing out ‘sham licences’ to tenants in a London borough.
Pedro Reis Tenajas of Covent Garden, and his company were charged with offences under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for misleading tenants as to their statutory rights.
An investigation by Tower Hamlets council was launched following complaints made about aggressive practices, including breaking the lock of a female tenant’s room and entering other rooms without prior permission.
“We know that private renting can be a difficult experience and we are committed to investigating landlords who are not giving their tenants a fair deal. The team’s work is backed up by the Tower Hamlets Private Renters’ Charter, which clearly sets out the standards that we expect from landlords and agents working in our borough” explains a council spokeswoman.
The council says the defendant used various addresses and virtual offices to disguise his identity.
This included using a company named My London Dream as the advertising portal to attract clients on the SpareRoom website.
However, the authority’s trading standards team s were able to prove tenants’ rental payments had been made to a company called London Corporate Relocation Ltd.
Tenajas has pleaded guilty to a total of 11 charges.
Magistrates issued fines of £1,250 for each offence and ordered Tenajas to pay a contribution towards prosecution costs of £8,500 – making a total financial penalty of more than £22,000.
The court heard that Tenajas and his company used ‘licence to occupy’ agreements rather than assured shorthold tenancies, a tactic that restricted the rights of tenants.
This case is believed to be only the second successful one of its kind in London.