A private landlord in north London has been sentenced to four months imprisonment and fined £20,000 after pleading guilty to intimidating his tenants as part of his efforts to gain vacant possession of his rental property.
Rehan Sheikh of Manor Drive was found guilty at Willesden Magistrates Court of illegally evicting the tenants from his property at 90 Wembley Park Drive, after being prosecuted by Brent Council for the unlawful eviction of six occupiers, as well as for his failure to have a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence and for the poor conditions in the house which Brent enforcement officers found during an unannounced visit in January 2016.
Sheikh, who owns eight properties in the London borough of Brent, was convicted of all offences and sentenced to four months imprisonment and ordered to pay costs of £9,000 and compensation totalling £11,000 to the evicted tenants.
The court heard that although Sheikh was receiving almost £3,000 each month in rent, the property was in a state of terrible disrepair, with holes in ceilings, walls and floor and filthy carpets. The front of the property was also being used to dump rubbish. When the tenants started to complain about the condition of the premises, Sheikh fraudulently told the Court that the tenants were squatters and unknown to him, and issued a claim to evict them.
Without telling the tenants about his plans, he obtained a possession order from the Court and used it to evict the tenants in February 2016, assaulting one of them in the process – a crime for which he was convicted in May 2016. He gave all the tenants - including one with two young children – just two hours to move out, even refusing requests to wait until children had returned from school.
Cllr Harbi Farah, Brent Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This was an appalling case which caused great distress to the victims and demonstrates the necessity of our private sector licensing scheme. Good tenants and their children were forced from their home by this heartless landlord’s deliberate actions.”
“Our ground-breaking licensing scheme, which has been running since January 2015, is helping us to tackle poor standards in the private rented sector and focus on the minority of unscrupulous landlords who refuse to comply with the law. However as this case shows, we also need to look at the eviction practices of some of the landlords operating in the borough. Brent Council will not tolerate this kind of criminal behaviour and we will prosecute any landlord or agent we find treating their tenants in such a despicable way.”
Mr Sheikh, who pleaded guilty to all charges, has since appealed the custodial sentence and been granted bail pending the appeal hearing.