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Ealing rogue landlord slapped with £75k penalty

A west London landlord has been ordered to pay a total of £75,215 for failing to licence four properties, protect tenants, comply with improvement notices, and comply with prohibition orders.

Gunapalan Vamathevan, also known as Mr Bala, the owner and manager of 51 and 53-55 Old Oak Common Lane, and 10 St Andrews Rd in Acton W3, received fines for nine offences at Ealing Magistrates’ Court.

He was ordered to pay court costs of £5,395 awarded to the council and a victim surcharge of £120, with a fine of almost £70,000 bringing the total penalty of £75,215.

Councillor Ranjit Dheer, cabinet member for safety, culture and community services, said: “This case is a significant result against an unscrupulous landlord who has previously been prosecuted by the council for his disregard of licensing regulations. 

“We make every effort to ensure residents in our borough are well protected and have decent living standards. We take a tough line against anyone who deliberately flouts the law and Mr Vamathevan has quite rightly been given a very heavy penalty for his prolonged and intentional illegal behaviour.” 

The successful prosecution was brought by Ealing Council’s regulatory services, following an investigation into reports received in 2014 that the properties were being operated as unlicensed HMOs. 

A warrant of entry was executed on the three properties in Old Oak Common Lane in June 2014, where council officers found evidence they were being operated as unlicensed HMOs, contrary to Section 72(1) of the Housing Act 2004. They also found breaches relating to the management of the HMOs. 

Subsequent notices were served in relation to the condition of the properties, including prohibition orders under section 20 of the Housing Act 2004 for dangerous staircases, and improvement notices relating to serious hazards.

An inspection of the property in St Andrews Road in October 2014 also found it to be operating as an unlicensed HMO. A subsequent prohibition order was made for a hazardous staircase and an improvement notice was also served on Vamathevan relating to lack of fire safety in the property.  

Numerous HMO licensing application forms along with warning letters were sent to Vamathevan, but no applications were submitted for the properties. Also, follow up inspections by officers found that the required works under the improvement notices had not been carried out and the prohibition orders had been breached.

The council takes a robust approach to such offences and prosecuted Vamathevan for failing to licence the properties as HMOs, failing to manage the properties and failing to comply with the notices served. In February this year he eventually submitted the HMO licence applications, after prosecution for the offences had begun.

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