Over £80,000 pounds of fines have been imposed on a letting agency and its director.
Zenith Accommodation Ltd’s boss, Mohammad Mallick of Luton, has been found guilty of serious breaches of HMO legislation between 2015 and 2017.
Mallick, who was charged along with his company, managed three properties without the necessary HMO licences and did not comply with important safety regulations.
The court found that tenants were exposed to potential harm due to the absence of the correct fire doors, fire detection equipment and other standards designed to protect them.
Zenith Accommodation Ltd was fined £66,741 which included £20,000 for each separate offence under the legislation plus an additional surcharge and court costs.
Mallick was fined a total of £14,661 which also included costs.
He subsequently appealed against the sentence, but the Crown Court has dismissed the appeal.
Mallick has also been found guilty of perverting the course of justice at St Albans Crown Court. Mallick had claimed that he was out of the country and unable to attend a trial when in reality he was seen at his office.
His initial hearing was at magistrates court in April 2019. In February 2020 the case was referred to the Crown Court which ruled against the council.
The council appealed against this ruling and in March 2020 the High Court found in its favour overturning the Crown Court ruling and the case was referred to St Albans Crown Court for trial.
Here, the jury reached a unanimous guilty verdict and Mallick was sentenced to a community order for 18 months and ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work. In addition he was ordered to pay £4,000 costs.
In a similar case, Mohamed Hazmar Fauz, of The Avenue, Welwyn,was convicted of offences relating to breach of HMO licence and the HMO Management Regulations and was ordered to pay fines, costs and victim charge amounting to £23, 215.51p.
Councillor Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing, says: “I am delighted at the severity of these sentences. Too many landlords see their property as cash cows and care little for the welfare and safety of those who live in them.
“Every tenant in Luton has the right to be treated as a human being and not as an object to take advantage of by unscrupulous individuals. As a council we are 100 per cent committed to stamping out illegal activity in our housing market and will always prosecute any individual where they are disobeying the law designed to protect those in that market.
“This verdict sends out the strongest possible message to landlords. ‘Don’t even think about it. If we catch you, there will be serious consequences.’”