Largest usage of powers to tackle unscrupulous landlords to date sees Waltham Forest Council gives notice of its intention to take possession of over 20 properties

7 December 2018
Neighbourhoods Officers on a previous property visit.

Waltham Forest Council has served Interim Management Orders in respect of over 20 properties from a family landlord firm who supplied false information to the council’s Property Licensing Scheme and colluded with a Gas Safe engineer to falsify safety certificates, endangering the lives of their tenants.

Following this action, the council took immediate possession of seven the properties so that safety of tenants could be guaranteed whilst repairs and improvements are made and a more suitable managing agent can be appointed. It will take possession of the remaining properties in a fortnight when necessary improvements will be carried out. It’s believed to be the largest number of Interim Management Orders served by a council in a single day.

Cllr Clare Coghill, Leader of the Council, said: “Making sure our residents have a safe roof over their head is a top priority for the council. Our Property Licensing Scheme protects both tenants and landlords – it means that tenants can expect the property will meet their expectations and provide a comfortable place to live, and at the same time means reputable landlords will be able to show they meet the standards we demand.

“A Gas Safety check costs as little as £30. The Hussains were not willing to spend this small amount to keep their tenants safe – yet they were prepared to spend £80,000 on a personalised vanity plate. Because of their penny-pinching their tenants’ lives were endangered while they boasted about driving Bentleys and Lamborghinis.

“These landlords showed a shocking lack of care and concern. We will always press for the maximum possible penalties when people’s lives are needlessly endangered by unscrupulous, lazy landlords.“

In May 2017 Mrs. Nasim Hussain, of Millers Lane, Chigwell, was convicted of four offences under the Housing Act (2004) after she supplied false information to the council’s Property Licensing Scheme about the gas supply to four rental properties the firm was letting out. She was found guilty and fined £40,000 plus costs of £1839.64.

Her husband, Mr. Tariq Hussain, was separately convicted in July 2018 of four offences under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act for falsifying Gas Safety certificates for the same properties. He was given a fine of £800 plus costs of £200 and victim surcharge of £30. Mr. Tariq Hussain induced Muhammad Waseem, Gas Safe Engineer, to falsify the certificates.

The convictions led the council to deem the Hussains as not being fit and proper persons to act as licence holders or manage properties in Waltham Forest. Powers available to local authorities under the Housing At (2004) allow the council to take possession of the firm’s properties, 27 in total, with the aim of protecting the current occupiers of the property and its immediate neighbours.

When an IMO comes into force, the council must take immediate steps to protect the health and welfare of those living in the property and of neighbours. The authority must also ensure the property is properly managed and that it is insured. The rent collected by the council will be used to bring the property up to the expected standard and to fund its management duties. The authority does not have the right to sell the property or use it to secure a mortgage. The fact that the council has its own in-house social lettings team puts it in a strong position to fulfil the important responsibilities placed on it as a result of making the IMO.