Vulnerable families are being exploited by ‘rogue landlords’ in the Govanhill area of Glasgow, according to a BBC Scotland investigation.
The report claims that a number of people are being forced to live in substandard homes in what is the first minister’s constituency, but are too afraid to speak out.
The investigation revealed that a number of de-registered landlords continued to work in the area despite being officially struck off, while it also found that public money is being used to acquire what has been described as ‘slum housing’.
Rachel Moon, of Govanhill Law Centre, told BBC Scotland that many of the homes are in very poor condition, with some without running water occupied by young families with newborn babies, with crooked landlords often at the root of the problem.
She said: “The audacity of some of the landlords is totally remarkable.
“We must have had 12 cases in five weeks of slum landlords moving into property that was being demolished.”
"They were changing locks, making up fake tenancy agreements and putting signs in the window saying the property was for rent.
"People were phoning the number, paying the deposit and the first month's rent.
"But obviously this was not a legal tenancy so the clients were then losing their property."
Ch Insp Graham McInarlin, of Police Scotland, said they were investigating reports of landlords who have been struck off but remain in business.
He said: "They take over a derelict property, take several months of rent up front and in actual fact they don't own the flat in the first place."
He added that one landlord has 17 trading standards cases against him.
The BBC named and shamed the following ‘so-called’ rogue landlords:
Shaban Rehman, 44, was de-registered as a landlord in May after taking £7,000 of deposits from tenants. His Better Homes letting agency was dissolved earlier this year, but BBC Scotland has learned that the business in Govanhill has remained open. He has now being reported to prosecutors for alleged fraud, theft and for acting as a landlord while unregistered. Mr Rehman told BBC Scotland he denied the charges and was appealing against his de-registration. He said the office was open but it was not trading.
Mohammed Nawaz has been described as one of Scotland's most notorious landlords. Mr Nawaz, who owned a host of flats in Govanhill, was banned in 2012 from acting as a private landlord and letting agent. Local agencies say he has continued to practice through relatives and friends. He faces two trials in the next six months for charges including threats of violence, aggressive behaviour, approaching tenants outside of property and threatening to return to evict them, embezzlement, theft, fraud, forcing entry and changing locks. His son Naeem Nawaz told BBC Scotland his father denies all the charges and that they believe the cases will be dropped.
Johar Mirza, 36, is wanted by the FBI in connection with alleged fraud but he is also under investigation by Police Scotland for his practices as a landlord. He is currently serving a prison sentence for attacking a woman but he is still registered as a landlord. Officers say his properties are still being let to tenants and some fall below tolerable standards. Mirza, from Pollokshaws, claims he has been the victim of a miscarriage of justice and is fighting extradition. He was not available for comment.
Mohammed Adam Hussain was sequestrated on 8 August for outstanding debts to the council. He is also under investigation for breaching landlord registration rules in the area.
Mohammed Aslam was de-registered by Glasgow City Council in 2008 following an investigation which concluded he was "not a fit and proper person" to be a landlord. But Mr Aslam is the currently back on trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court and faces charges against him: that he acted as a landlord without the required registration with Glasgow City Council. Mr Aslam denies the charges.