The landlord of a Walthamstow property has been fined £5,000 after he failed to obtain a mandatory licence under Waltham Forest Council’s property licensing scheme.
Mr. Nasar Shaikh, of Coleshill Road, Birmingham, rented the two-bedroom property on Theydon Street, Walthamstow, to a young family who had been living at the house since 2010. In 2017, council property licensing officers undertook an action day in the area during which the address was identified as one for which a licence was required.
When the council contacted Mr. Shaikh, he initially indicated that he would apply for a licence but instead applied for a Temporary Exemption Notice (TEN) on the basis that he intended to move into the rented property, and therefore qualified for an exemption from property licensing. Mr. Shaikh then took back a room from the tenants and padlocked it in an attempt to show that he was living at the property, thereby forcing the family of four to live in cramped conditions. Council officers concluded that Mr. Shaikh was settled in Birmingham and that, in fact, his claim that he was to live at the rented property was just a sham to avoid his legal responsibilities – his TEN application was refused.
Mr Shaikh failed to take steps to licence the property in Theydon Street and the council made an Interim Management Order (IMO) on Thursday 1 November 2018, using powers under the Housing Act (2004) that allow the council to take possession of the property. The tenants’ rent will be paid to the authority and the money used to fund essential repairs and safety work while a suitable managing agent can be appointed. A civil penalty of £5,000 was handed to Mr. Shaikh for his failure to get the required licence.
Cllr Louise Mitchell, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Mr. Shaikh tried to get around his obligation to obtain a licence for this property, and when challenged refused to accept any responsibility but instead illegally changed his tenants’ agreement so as to remove their access to parts of the property.
“Tenants should not find themselves at the whim of their landlord. They had signed a tenancy agreement in good faith, but because of Mr. Shaikh’s irresponsibility found themselves being penalised.
“Ensuring that residents have a decent roof over their heads is a top priority for the council and we will continue to hold rogue landlords to account in Waltham Forest.”
Initially, Mr. Shaikh appealed the £5,000 civil penalty with which he was issued. However, the London Residential Property First-tier Tribunal dismissed his appeal, finding that his actions in changing the tenants’ shorthold agreement amounted to ‘nothing other than an attempt to circumnavigate the impact of the financial penalty’.