A rent-to-rent fraudster has been jailed for 16 months after being found guilty of six counts of fraud relating to HMOs
Moses Ogoe, 24, from Hitchin Road, Luton was sentenced last week after he was found guilty of obtaining properties with false documentation, converting the properties into HMOs and then renting the properties out pretending to be the landlord.
Luton Council’s Trading Standards and Private Sector Housing services carried out an investigation into Ogoe’s activities and found there were seven properties in total in which he carried out a rent-to-rent scam. Ogoe continued to pretend to be a landlord even while on court bail.
In obtaining the properties, he produced documents claiming to be a doctor, a security manager and a catering manager. In reality, Ogoe was a temporary security guard. On a number of occasions, he evicted tenants without notice if they failed to pay an increase in rent immediately.
Throughout the investigation, Ogoe refused to co-operate with officers, insisting he had done nothing wrong and that it was just a civil dispute. However, on the first day of his trial, he changed his plea to guilty.
In sentencing Ogoe, his Honour Judge Kay QC told him: "You saw an opportunity to rent relatively sizable properties and sublet them to desperate individuals who needed somewhere to live. You were not providing a public service because you did this for greed. You defrauded them as you did not provide a genuine tenancy and the protection that would give”.
Ogoe had previously received a caution, relating to Housing Act offences in connection with the conditions at one of the properties.
Ogoe will now serve 16 months in prison and must pay £7,500 in costs. The court also ordered that the computers used to create the false documents be forfeited.
His sister, Rebecca Ogoe, was given a conditional discharge as the judge felt her brother had manipulated her in this case.
Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing at Luton Council said: “This case underlines the council’s ongoing commitment to ensure private tenants in our town have safe, high-quality accommodation. In situations like this, unscrupulous landlords are not only taking financial advantage of vulnerable tenants, but placing their lives in danger. Every landlord housing different families that share the same facilities under one roof must register for an HMO licence. We will not hesitate to prosecute landlords who show a disregard for the law and their responsibilities towards occupants."