A rogue landlord in north London has been ordered to pay more than £66,000 after being found guilty of making tenants' lives a misery through licensing breaches.
The fine is the largest financial penalty Brent Council has secured to date and is a reflection of the truly appalling conditions tenants were living in.
The council decided to take action against Hugo Pulqueiro, after the landlord sent in the heavies to remove the belongings of one of his tenants and change the locks to kick her out after she complained of the deteriorating conditions inside the overcrowded flat she was sharing with six other tenants in High Road, Willesden, north west London.
Council enforcement officers raided the property after seeing a shocking video filmed by the victim who found herself homeless and her belongings damaged outside the flat one freezing winter's night in February.
Willesden Magistrates Court heard that the tenant had been evicted from her home because Pulqueiro had not wanted his tenants to complain about their horrific exploitation.
Inside the four-bedroom flat, Pulqueiro of Park Avenue, Willesden Green, created a partition wall down the middle of two single rooms to create two illegal micro rooms that he then rented out to more tenants.
He failed to give his tenants written agreements, depriving them of their rights, and sent over different strangers to collect their rent in cash at irregular times during the week.
His tenants told officers that they had never even met their landlord and that they did not know how many people had keys to their home.
Pulqueiro also neglected to protect his tenants’ deposits, failed to meet fire safety regulations and ignored his responsibility to maintain the property to a liveable standard.
The fire brigade was called to the property to put out a fire a week before the enforcement officers' raid.
Cllr Eleanor Southwood, cabinet member for Housing and Welfare Reform, commented: “This is an absolutely shocking case and it’s appalling that Mr Pulqueiro believed he could get away with such gross mistreatment of his tenants.
“No renter in Brent should be forced to endure what these tenants went through. We will never stop fighting for decent living conditions and are using our licensing schemes to drive up standards in the private sector.
“We will do all we can to ensure that slum landlords like Mr Pulqueiro feel the full force of the law.”