A head tenant who posed as a landlord has been taken to court by a London council.
Sonia Nascimento rented a converted four-bedroom flat from a landlord in Willesden in 2017 but then went on to illegally sublet the property to other tenants for a profit.
One of the tenants living at the flat reported Nascimento to Brent council last summer, saying that eight people were sharing the property but that none had a tenancy agreement.
An inspection carried out by the council’s enforcement team discovered that the property was without a House in Multiple Occupation licence and that Nascimento, who did not live in the flat, was in breach of housing management regulations.
The council originally issued her with a £5,000 Civil Penalty Notice but after she refused to pay, the council took her to court.
The resulting fine and costs of £9,047.50 in total is almost double the original fine issued by Brent and now Nascimento also has a criminal record.
Magistrates also heard how a lack of smoke alarms and a fire safety system put all tenants in danger at the flat, including the life of a four-month-old baby.
Nascimento was found guilty of failing to take measures to protect the occupiers of the HMO from injury. Because the property was unlicensed, the tenants did not have a tenancy agreement or a government-approved deposit scheme to secure their deposit money.
The owner, who paid occasional visits to the flat, was also issued with a £2,500 Civil Penalty Notice for failure to licence.
A council spokeswoman says: “Landlords who fail to licence their properties or who are not following housing management regulations are breaking the law. Safety of tenants is our priority and we encourage anyone who suspect that their landlord may be acting outside the law to report their concerns to us.”