Husband and Wife Landlord Team Fined for Overcrowding

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A husband and wife landlord team have been fined for contravening a Notice of Over-Crowding and a Prohibition Order served on them for a property they own and rent out at Pembroke Road, Erith.

Bexley Magistrates heard that the bungalow, owned by husband and wife Abul and Ashrafi Azad, who live in a different property in Pembroke Road, had attracted a number of complaints about over-crowding, noise and the generation or rubbish since 2014.

The council intervened further when a fire broke out at the bungalow on 24 September 2016 and a tenant had to jump from a first-floor window to escape the fire. It was reported to the Council as a possible house of multiple occupation (HMO) by the London Fire Brigade.

A Notice of Over-Crowding had already been issued on the property on 16 September 2016 following an inspection in August, when the bungalow was found to be housing 17 beds – including both sides of the roof space. At the time Mr Azad was provided with a schedule setting out the maximum number of 8 people allowed in the whole of the property. The Council had also advised Mr Azad not to re-let the property without notifying the Council first.

After the fire, Council officers visited the property on 30 September 2016 and found four people living there, despite extensive damage caused by the fire, making the staircase unsafe and the house uninhabitable. As a result, a Prohibition Order was served to prevent the property being used for sleeping and living accommodation.

Mr Azad did not appeal the Prohibition Order and agreed that he would not re-let the property again until all necessary remedial works had been carried out.

However, when a further inspection was made by the council on 12 April 2017, they found it occupied by 9 people, allegedly from one family. However, a female living at the property was unable to name the other tenants and five of the family names were different.

The Council advised the husband and wife landlords that it would be prosecuting for breach of the Prohibition Order.

A further inspection on 5 April 2018 found 15 bed spaces. Three of these were in the living room and included a double mattress under the stair case. The majority of works required by the Prohibition Order had not been completed, although the staircase had been replaced.

The husband and wife landlords both pleaded guilty to charges of contravening the still active Notice of Over-Crowding and the Prohibition Order. On 18 February 2019 Husband Abul was fined £1,660 for contravening the Over-Crowding Notice and £3,300 for contravening the Prohibition Order. He was ordered to pay £200 legal costs and £890.44 investigative costs. He has since also been ordered to pay a Victim Surcharge of £170.

On 4 March 2019, Mrs Azad, who did not attend court, was fined £1,000 for contravening the Prohibition Order and ordered to pay £200 legal costs; £890.44 investigative costs and a Victim Surcharge of £100. There was no separate penalty for the first charge of contravening the Notice.

Following the case, Councillor Peter Craske, Cabinet Member for Places said: ‘I am delighted with this successful prosecution. Bexley has no hesitation in prosecuting greedy landlords who have complete disregard for the health and safety of their tenants. These two ignored advice and guidance by our officers aimed at helping them rent their property legally and safely – and then went on to flagrantly flout the Over-Crowding Notice and Prohibition Order which were rightly issued.’

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