The sole director of a lettings agency, who was recently made the subject of an anti-social behaviour injunction and banning order, has been found guilty and sentenced for controlling an unlicensed HMO and providing unsafe housing for its tenants.
Mohammed Ali Abbas Rasool, sole director of Blackstone Vertu Limited, and the landlord and owner of the HMO, Asrah Rasool, were found guilty of operating an unlicensed HMO in Camden, North London, plus breaches of HMO management regulations.
The judge fined them £80,000 and £40,000 respectively and ordered them to pay nearly £15,000 in legal costs.
Camden council had received a complaint in August 2020 from previous tenants of the property, complaining about its condition. Investigations found that the property was occupied as an unlicensed HMO and was managed by Blackstone Vertu Limited.
The property was over-occupied, with seven tenants in five rooms, and was in a poor condition throughout, with significant fire safety hazards - including a lack of any working fire alarms or fire doors - posing a serious risk to the tenants.
Rasool and a different company of which he was the director, had previously been prosecuted for similar offences.
The council has recently obtained a banning order against Rasool and various of his associates, which now prevents them from managing or being involved in the letting of any properties in England for five years.
A Camden council spokesperson says: “Around a third of Camden residents rent from private landlords and they deserve to live in properly regulated, safe homes and to be treated fairly. The pandemic further highlighted the importance of the right to a home that is safe and secure.
“Most landlords are decent law-abiding people; however, for too long a minority have been able to let housing that is unsuitable while exploiting their tenants and woefully disregarding their wellbeing and safety.
“Our HMO licensing scheme and HMO enforcement team are continuing to improve standards in Camden’s private housing sector, empowering renters to take action and helping good landlords to run successful businesses.
“The legal action taken in this case was a necessary last resort. Our message to landlords and letting agents is that we are here to work with you; to provide advice and assistance first of all and to ensure you can meet your obligations.”