Rogue landlords who flout shared house safety rules have picked up huge fines for letting tenants live in unsafe and filthy conditions.
Landlord Zaheer Barbar faces selling his rental property to pay £50,500 owed to Northampton Council after losing an appeal, while Mohammed Zamir was ordered to pay £60,000 in fines and costs. Both ignored house in multiple occupation (HMO) licensing and management rules.
Elsewhere, advertising watchdogs have banned estate agents from advertising a home that was removed from sale years earlier.
And a violent tenant was jailed for beating up his landlord and threatening to throw acid in the face of a colleague at work when she spurned his advances to become his girlfriend.
Record fine for HMO landlord
Landlord Zaheer Babar has a month to pay more than £50,000 in fines picked up for renting out a filthy and dangerous shared house or could be forced to sell the property.
Babar asked the First Tier Tribunal to overturn the civil penalties, but his appeal was rejected.
He was ordered to pay £50,500 when Northampton Council issued two improvement notices against a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in Colwyn Road, Abington, Northampton, adding up to the largest property penalties issued by the council.
Babar came to the attention of housing officials for letting out the home to eight tenants without a licence in 2015. Over the next four years he was asked to apply for a licence four times but continued to ignore the council.
In July 2019, the HMO was inspected, revealing a catalogue of 33 safety hazards, including:
- Missing handrails on stairs
- Broken windows and door locks
- Damp and mould
- A collapsed ceiling
- Faulty fire safety equipment
- Exposed electrical wires
- A filthy kitchen and bathroom
Cabinet member for housing and wellbeing Stephen Hibbert said: “The conditions in this property were squalid and hazardous, and posed a real danger to the tenants living there.”
So far, Babar has paid £500 off his penalty bill.
£60,000 bill for dodging HMO rules
Landlord Mohammed Zamir faces an even larger penalty of £66,000 for dodging HMO safety rules.
Magistrates in Reading, Berkshire, found him guilty of refusing to give Reading Council information about the property and 13 other HMO management offences.
Zamir, 41, argued the building was a block of self-contained flats, but the court found he rented out an unlicensed HMO.
The council presented a long list of faults at the property, including the lack of a gas safety certificate, general poor repair, faulty fire safety measures and badly maintained electrics.
Ban for advertising house that wasn’t for sale
Advertising watchdogs have banned estate agents from advertising a home for sale even though the property was taken off the market more than three years ago.
Two online property agents picked up the ban after a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The complaint alleged the advert for the house was misleading because the property was not for sale and had been off the market since 2017 but the ad was displayed online in July 2020.
The identical listings appeared on overstreet.co.uk and manchestersalerent.co.uk.
The text gave the full address of the house in Rackenford, Tiverton, Devon, and an option for potential buyers to make an appointment to view the property.
The ASA expressed concern that no one from either web site responded to the investigation despite sharing an address in High Street, Romford, Essex.
“We considered that consumers would understand from the description of the property in the ad, combined with a box including the text ‘Available’ and ‘Request Detail’ that the property was available for purchase,” said an ASA spokesman.
“We understood that the property had not been on the market since 2017 and remained on the website despite several requests to remove it. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.”
Both agents were ordered to take down and not to republish the listing nor any other listings for properties that were not currently for sale.
Both web sites seem unavailable online.
Overstreet ranks as the 20th property domain in the UK by independent assessors property-listing-sites.com.
Life for landlord killer who cut up body
A killer was jailed for life for killing his landlord and dismembered his body to feed to badgers.
Daniel Walsh, who was a lodger at landlord Graham Snell’s home in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, hoped the animals would eat the body if he buried the parts in their sett, Derby Crown Court heard.
Walsh has previous convictions for stealing £5,000 cash and for assaulting his landlord.
In June 2019, Snell complained to police that Walsh was stealing money from him, but by the time police followed up the case the next day, Snell was dead and dismembered.
Walsh denied murder but admitted cutting the body into parts.
Judge Nirmal Shant said: “Graham Snell was a quiet unassuming man, well-liked by his neighbours, a private man who led an ordered life.
“Only you know what you did to Mr Snell but after you killed him what you then did over the next few days was to systematically try and get away within the murder.”
Landlord attacker gets extra time
A 10-year restraining order was broken less than an hour after being put in place to protect a woman from harassment by a violent workmate.
Edward Stewart, 36, had threatened to disfigure her for life by throwing acid in her face after the woman rejected his pleas to go out with him. The woman worked with him at a call centre.
Minutes after the order was granted at court, Stewart approached her in the street after shouting a tirade of abuse, a Judge at Belfast Crown Court was told.
Jailing Stewart, the judge also heard that he had attacked his landlord after he was evicted from his rented home.
A 24-month licence was added to his 20 month sentence when the judge heard Stewart had repeatedly threatened and then assaulted his landlord.