A charity that receives thousands of pounds in housing benefit to accommodate vulnerable people, including the homeless with addiction problems, has topped a list of the UK’s most-prosecuted landlords.
The investigation by The Guardian newspaper found that Bristol-based Alternative Housing, which last year hit the headlines when a man lay dead for weeks in ‘squalid’ conditions in a home provided through the company, was the UK’s most-prosecuted landlord, having been convicted of housing offences six times over the past two years, after letting properties with problems including overflowing raw sewage.
The company, which is registered with the Charity Commission, was fined a total of almost £40,000. Over the same period it received £321,000 in housing benefit.
The newspaper names Ghulam Muhammad as the only remaining registered director and trustee of Alternative Housing and the joint most convicted landlord.
The national publication compiled a list of the UK’s worst landlords after making Freedom of Information requests to councils in England and Wales.
Alternative Housing is one of 61 landlords that have been convicted of multiple housing offences over the past two years, and yet they are still allowed to offer homes to tenants.
Bristol council’s housing cabinet member, Paul Smith, described Alternative Housing as a “bogus charity” which had done “appalling things” to vulnerable people.
He said: “There is nothing charitable about what they were doing. They were using charitable status as a cover for commercial activity.
“In Bristol a large percentage of the private rented sector is looking for young professionals. Those landlords that do take people on benefits have a huge captive market.
“What we might have once called slum landlords are able to come in and mop people up on benefits because there is not enough affordable homes.”