Fife Landlord Prosecuted for Third Time

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A Fife landlord has been prosecuted for the third time after illegally renting out properties in Fife.

Mohammed Murtaza pleaded guilty to leasing two properties in Kirkcaldy, Fife during May and December 2017, despite not being registered with the local authority to do so.

The landlord had been previously convicted in 2014 for being in breach of gas safety rules and failing to comply with his statutory private landlord duties.

Due to the 2014 conviction he was refused entry to Fife Council’s private landlord register, making it a criminal offence for him to lease out properties.

However, the Fife landlord continued to lease properties and was convicted again in 2017. This conviction led to him becoming the first person in Scotland to have a disqualification order made against him by the courts, who imposed a 12-month ban in May 2017.

Despite the ban, a pre-existing tenant continued to live in a property he owned in Valley Gardens throughout the rest of 2017, and a new tenant was found through a third party for a property on Kennedy Crescent.

The Fife landlord admitted the two charges when appearing at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court last week.

Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC said: ‘There can be no doubt that this was a deliberate and continued flouting of the law for commercial gain. These offences are further aggravated in that you committed them in direct defiance of an order made by this court in April 2017 which disqualified you from being a landlord.’

He continued: ‘These matters are to be treated as potentially serious given the maximum penalty of a £50,000 fine. Any penalty imposed should have the effect that it makes it uneconomic for the offender to continue breaching the law.’

The sheriff fined Murtaza a total of £12,000, to be paid within six months. He also banned him from registering as a landlord with any local authority for an additional four years.

Head of Housing Services for Fife Council, John Mills, said: ‘Housing Services welcomes the continuing court action against private sector landlords who refuse to co-operate with the Council in ensuring they comply with the law in Scotland.

‘Our primary duty is to protect private sector tenants and ensure that we take effective action against these landlords.’

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