Rogue Landlords fined £244,367

Brent has become the first Council in the country to use the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) against slum landlords for breaches of licensing conditions in a landmark case. Mother and daughter Harsha and Chandni Shah, along with Harsha Shah's brother Sanjay Shah, were pocketing over £100,000 a year by housing at least 31 people in a four-bedroom house in Wembley. The property was ruled to be an illegal house in multiple occupation after a 2016 raid by a London Borough of Brent housing enforcement officers. During the raid the Enforcement officers also found a woman living in a lean-to shed in the back garden of the property.

The shack had no lighting or heating and was made out of wood offcuts, pallets and tarpaulin.
They were all found guilty of breaching landlord licensing rules in May 2017. Jaydipkumar Valand, acted as their agent, collecting rent from the tenants. Earlier in December Her Honour Judge Wood of Harrow Crown Court made a Confiscation Order for the sum of £116,000 against Harsha Shah and Chandni Shah under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Valand was also subjected to a confiscation order for the sum of £5,000.

Harsha Shah, Chadni Shah and Sanjay Shah were sentenced to pay £41,000 in fines. All the defendants were ordered to pay £82,367 in costs. The total payable amounted to £244,367.
A confiscation order was not awarded against Sanjay Shah because the court was not persuaded that he had benefitted from his criminal activity in running the illegal, overcrowded HMO. However, the judge held that that he had played a key role in facilitating the illegal operation and fined him along with the other defendants.

A Brent council spokeswoman said: "We will use every legal power we have to come down hard on landlords and agents who exploit tenants in Brent. Every house in multiple occupation needs a licence, which helps to create decent living standards in the borough. We will track down landlords who do not licence their properties and rip off tenants by housing them in miserable conditions."

During the raid in 2016, enforcement officers found some residents sharing a single bed with night workers swapping sleeping shifts with those who worked during the day. Four beds were discovered piled into the front room and three in each bedroom.

Previous case law had indicated that confiscation orders could not be obtained in cases such as this. But Brent says councils from all over the country are now using Brent's historic legal win as a precedent.

The government has estimated that there are more than 10,000 rogue landlords operating nationwide, many of whom own Englandís 500,000 houses of multiple occupation. To combat overcrowding in let properties the government announced new rules last year under which rooms slept in by one adult will have to be no smaller than 6.5 square metres (70 square feet), and those slept in by two adults 10.2 square metres. Rooms slept in by children of 10 years and younger will have to be no smaller than 4.6 square metres.

Parkinson Property

8th January 2018


The Property Ombudsman Lettings   Find details of all our properties at - The UK's number one property website   The Deposit Protection Service