A rogue landlord who allowed vulnerable tenants to live in conditions without windows, proper washing facilities or fire safety measures at a converted car garage has received a criminal conviction and a near £10,000 court fine.
Thames Magistrates Court heard how Mehmet Gurcuoglu - director of Golden Motors on Andre Street in Hackney Downs, London - used a dilapidated outbuilding at the railway arch car wash and tyre workshop to house private renters, providing bedrooms with dangerous electrics, no natural light and a kitchen without hot water.
The illegal premises also had tyres stored up to the ceiling and blocking escape routes, putting the lives of the residents at grave risk in an emergency.
As well as being flammable, the tyres would have filled the escape route with toxic gases if they had caught fire, with the one battery operated smoke alarm covered up with plastic sheeting meaning that the tenants would not be alerted to a fire.
Hackney council officers initially joined police on a raid of the property in 2019, forcing the landlord to remove the tenants from the dangerous building before taking legal action.
Gurcuoglu pleaded guilty to operating a privately rented HMO without a licence and to five breaches of management regulations at court last month, resulting in a £8,992 court fine.
“This is one of the most atrocious cases of mistreatment of private tenants we have seen in Hackney, with the landlord putting lives at risk by placing people in conditions that simply aren’t meant for living in” claims Councillor Sem Moema, responsible for housing on the local authority.
“But while this is an extreme example of criminal behaviour, it’s also a symptom of the wider housing shortage and a poorly regulated private rented sector that encourages landlords to let out poor quality homes at often extortionate rents.
“Our crackdown shows that we’ll take whatever action we can to tackle those who don’t play by the rules – while we continue our campaign for better renting and a fairer system for tenants, starting with a ban on unfair evictions and measures to ensure genuinely affordable rent levels.”
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