A pair of unscrupulous landlords have been fined and ordered to pay costs of almost £9000 after Camden Council successfully prosecuted them for failing to license overcrowded student digs (20 June 2012).

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The three storey house at 4 Havering, Castlehaven Road, NW1 8TH is an ex-right to buy family home with six bedrooms.

Owners and landlords Abdul Kalam and his wife Jahanara Begum, who live in Basingstoke, collected rent from six students living there and failed to apply for a house in multiple occupation (HMO) licence. This was despite receiving warnings and correspondence from the council numerous times.

The house did not have adequate fire exits and precautions, while the landlords received over £40,000 a year in rent.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all offences, but on the first day of the trial changed their plea to guilty in respect of five offences.

The defendants’ daughter gave evidence and pleaded mitigation on the defendants’ behalf.  The case was heard in Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on 20 June 2012 and District Judge Crane stated that she did not find the daughter’s evidence on oath to be reliable or credible.

She said: “The lack of compliance with the regulations compromised the safety of tenants and possibly put their lives at risk.  This would still have applied even if there were only four tenants. These regulations are in place to prevent precisely this sort of abuse of tenants and putting them at risk in order to pocket large sums of money without carrying out repairs”.

She fined Mrs Begum and Mr Kalam £1000 each for failing to obtain a licence and made her pay £2000 towards the Council’s costs.  Mr Kalam was also fined £2000 for failing to provide fire precautions and £250 for the broken window.  He had to pay £2508.75 in costs and both had to pay a victim support charge of £15.

Cllr Abdul Hai, cabinet member for community safety, Camden Council, said: “Irresponsible landlords need to get the message loud and clear: you will not be tolerated in Camden. We will use all powers available to prosecute these people who are more concerned with lining their pockets than providing safe and decent accommodation to paying tenants.”

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