A London lettings agency - that has now entered bankruptcy - has been cleared of any involvement in a rental scandal involving ghost tenants.
The Waltham Forest Echo reports that Mohamed and Shehara Lahrie claimed a single tenant occupied six different properties - and it turned out that this person was in fact their letting agent.
This concealed the fact that the properties in question were HMOs, meaning the homes were not inspected and the landlords did not obtain the required licenses.
Their defence lawyer, appealing for leniency at their sentencing, told Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court the properties were just “one per cent” of their 600 unit property portfolio, which they have now been forced to sell.
Late last week, following an initial trial in April, Mohamed Laurie was fined £126,500 and Shehara Lahrie was fined £60,500.
The judge described this as a “fair and proportionate” financial penalty that would deter other offenders.
The couple owned 600 properties in east London through a network of at least 28 companies.
At the start of the hearing, lettings agency Station Estates Limited was formally cleared of charges after the council offered no evidence. According to Companies House, the agency entered bankruptcy in May 2019.
Waltham Forest council’s legal case began in 2017 but was delayed for four years due to an unsuccessful legal challenge by the Lahries.
Mohamed Lahrie is reported to have said after the fines were imposed: “I have learned my lesson and I regret what I did”.
You can read the full story here.