A rogue managing agent of an overcrowded house of multiple occupation (HMO) in east London has been fined £26,000 for breaches of licensing and housing management laws.
Waltham Forest Council’s property licensing team received an application to register the property on Eastfield Road, E17, as a single-family dwelling. But suspicious officers investigated further and discovered that it was in fact being let as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and occupied by up to 16 unrelated tenants, without the landlords knowledge.
Investigating officers discovered that Viktoriia Stroieva, director of Ilford-based property management agency Maxvik Ltd., had used ‘ghost tenants’ as a front so that she could cram 16 people into the squalid overcrowded unlicensed house
Officers were provided with tenancy agreements between the landlord and named tenants. They found that these ‘ghost tenants’ were not living at the property and were instead being used as a front for a rent-to-rent scam with the property occupied by a large number of tenants at inflated rents.
In addition to the dangerous overcrowding, officers discovered serious defects to the fire alarm system which could have endangered the lives of tenants.
Edzus Eisaks of Rhodesia Road, E11, was also convicted in this case. He was found to be providing false information to officers investigating this case and received a fine of £500 on top of costs of £3,000 for his part in the scam at Thames Magistrates’ Court.
Cllr Louise Mitchell, cabinet member for housing, said: “Everyone needs a decent roof over their head. However, there are people who choose to exploit that need for their own personal profit and greed.
“In this case, a property that could have provided a wonderful home for a young family was instead used to pack in 16 unrelated people, all of whom had to share woefully insufficient bathroom and kitchen facilities while the property’s fire alarm system fell into disrepair.
“The council’s property licensing scheme protects residents from those unscrupulous landlords and letting agents who care more about profits than the safety and security of their tenants. Officers work hard carrying out proactive checks to protect people from this very type of exploitation.”