A rogue lettings agent has been fined over £72,000 after being found guilty of 15 separate offences relating to three illegally established houses in multiple occupation dating back to December 2017.
The agent - Muhammad Siddique - was instructed to let these properties to single families but without the consent of the property owners he let the rooms individually and turned them into houses of multiple occupation.
He was fined a total of £72,090.65 including prosecution costs and a victim surcharge.
Siddique, who was operating a franchise of the Open House agency in Watford, did not carry out any of the upgrade works required to safeguard tenants from fire safety risks.
There were no safe escape routes in the properties and inadequate fire detection, with one of the properties not having a single working smoke detector.
Inspections by Watford council’s environmental health officers also uncovered other health and safety breaches including a blocked and overflowing drain, waste accumulating, dirty toilets and signs of damp.
Siddique also failed to comply with requests to supply gas and electrical safety certificates and other information about the properties to the council.
Property owners and the managing director of Open House supported the council’s legal action against Siddique.
Alex Morrison, director at Open House Estate Agents, says: “We terminated Mr Siddique’s Open House franchise back in 2016, due to his repeated failure to adhere to our strict customer care and compliance procedures.
However, he has illegally continued to trade in the Watford area since then, using our brand, and a number of unlawful and unethical practices came to our attention which were then reported to Watford council.
“We have been working closely with the council’s environmental health team to take action against Mr Siddique and we are extremely relieved that this rogue agent has now been convicted.”