Twenty-seven tenants were packed into seven rooms at a converted house “fit only for cockroaches”.
And London’s Brent Council scored a £58,000 court victory over two landlords that let that happen.
Willesden Magistrates Court heard the house had been converted into seven rooms, which were found to be occupied by 27 people – including six children – when raided in August following reports to the council.
The court fined Nitin Patel, the licence holder, a total of £43,261 for a range of breaches of standards, including £10,000 for allowing a cockroach infestation and £15,000 for fire safety breaches which left the tenants at severe risk.
Vispasp Sarkari was fined a further £15,115 in the same case.
Speaking after the case Cllr Harbi Farah, Brent’s cabinet member for housing and welfare reform said: “Once again the courts have reinforced Brent’s zero-tolerance approach to rogue landlords with these heavy fines.
“Most landlords in the area are reputable, decent people doing a good job, and both they and private tenants should be reassured that we will track down, raid and prosecute the small minority who abuse vulnerable tenants in overcrowded, infested and downright unsafe flats.
“This building was fit only for cockroaches and these two sorry-excuses for landlords should be deeply ashamed.”
In a second success, the council secured an £8,000 civil penalty from A property company with assets in the Virgin Islands after two tenants illegally sublet one of its houses.
This is the first civil penalty to be issued by Brent Council following new powers voted in by the cabinet in September.
The unlicensed eight-bedroom semi-detached house in Willesden Green was exposed after a neighbour complained to the Fire Brigade about overcrowding.
A team of enforcement officers raided the property and found two head tenants, Adam Trantu and Liliana Caragheorghe, and the landlord in breach of house in multiple occupation (HMO) management and licensing regulations.
The boyfriend and girlfriend head tenants, who were not living in the house, had been illegally placing tenants inside the property at a rate of more than £3,400 a month over a two-year period.
Trantu and Caragheorghe were fined £12,000 at Willesden Magistrates Court on 28 November despite failing to attend the court hearing.
The couple, who were tried in their absence, were also each ordered to pay costs of £1,200 and a surcharge of £170 after being found guilty by the District Judge of profiting from chronic overcrowding.