A Reading landlord has been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £3,343 costs as well as a victim surcharge of £120 after being prosecuted by Reading Borough Council.
Hafiz Mohammed Gulfraz, 43, admitted having control of a HMO without a licence, breach of an emergency prohibition order, and intentionally disrupting the gas and electricity supply to the property as well as a string of safety breaches.
The offences relate to a property on the Oxford Road, Reading, which Gulfraz owns. The defendant was charged with 12 offences including failing to ensure that the fire alarm and emergency lighting were maintained in good working order and intentionally depriving tenants of heat and light supply.
Magistrates said that the case was one of the worst they had ever dealt with.
The council’s private sector housing team began an investigation in January 2015, after one of the tenants then living at the property contacted the council.
Council officers found a number of health and safety hazards at the property including excess cold due to the gas central heating system being disconnected during one of the coldest weeks of the year.
The council believed there was an imminent risk of harm if the tenants were to remain living in the property so an emergency prohibition order was served. In addition the property didn’t have an HMO license even though there were five tenants living there.
Richard Davies, lead councillor for housing at Reading Borough Council, said: "The private rented sector is large in Reading and is a rapidly growing market. Most landlords provide decent and well managed homes but there are a few who do not meet the standards their tenants have a right to expect.
"The council will always stand up for residents who live in private rented accommodation. We take our regulatory duties for HMOs very seriously and will prosecute those who flout the law."