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Named and shamed - landlord guilty of “atrocious case of mistreatment”

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. 

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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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  • George Dawes

    Hackney ?

    Explains everything

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    Well I don’t suppose he imprisoned them in his premises? Perhaps if Hackney council had given them a nice house it wouldn’t have happened

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    I didnt know that Hackney council had properties on demand

     
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    Those guys don’t earn very much and very varied at best of times, unlikely they could afford a proper place. There has been several cases where people in this sort of employment have packed-in with their friends overcrowding maybe 20 to a property. What is their alternative in this situation, fine the LL don’t solve the problem.

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    This is a systemic failure of British government and being blamed on the opertunistic immigirant who is solving a problem his community faces.
    Anywhere you find cheap services today, such as delivery, car wash, builders etc, there you will find under paid workers who cannot afford normal accommodation. So either one acts in the way this guy has done or the odd one in a better paid job or here with family (housing benefit) will be able to rent a house and sublet.
    So if the Government clean up the employment sector, the rental sector will clean itself out as no one wants to live in squalid conditions or share one bathroom with 10 or more strangers.

  • John  Adams

    If you are going to put an end to these people doing this, you have to make the fines truly significant along with custodial sentencing. In this case a fine of £50,000 and 3 years in prison would have been a far better warning, than what is probably less than 4 months rent.

  • John  Adams

    Don't make excuses for people who know what the law is, and could have killed 10 people. The fact is he could provide accommodation that is safe and profitable to him, but he chose to make a fast buck. These people are the reason the PRS gets a bad name, and we need them locked up.

    Algarve  Investor

    Quite. There is a natural tendency on here to defend the landlord at all costs, but sometimes they are just wrong'uns who need the book throwing at them, just as there are rogue tenants as well.

    Just because they are in the minority, doesn't mean we shouldn't condemn them when something like this happens. As you say, they are the reason the PRS gets a bad name and they need to be stamped out as much as possible.

     
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    Sorry but the landlord's behaviour is inexcusable. Anything that compromises safety deserves to be punished.

    We had a landlord who had 6 Tamil curry house waiters in sleeping bags on the floor of a large room in an Edwardian house. These guys were only paying £65 per week (in 2018) but they had a choice of 3 bathrooms, a large fully fitted kitchen/diner with 2 large freezers and it was their choice to sleep on the floor in the same room. I would defend our landlord against any criticism of exploitation as he was doing the best he could to provide a safe living environment .

    As I said, it's the unscrupulous landlord who deserves to be punished but our one would no doubt be charged with overcrowding and operating an unlicensed HMO if caught

    John  Adams

    6 Unrelated people would be an HMO...

     
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    In the main, immigrant tenants live in the way they have always lived, be it in a king size bed or on the floor.
    You as a landlord, might have a top spec oven installed but if they are used to cooking everything over a wok burner they'll use that.
    You can't take their natural habits away, the way they live, dress, behave - it doesn't work. Their ways are not ours nor ours theirs.

    John  Adams

    Not sure anyone be they from Swindon or Sudan, would be wanting to pay rent to live in a windowless railway arch at the back of a garage. The guy is an out and out sc**bag.

     
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    I agree, John Adams but there are many who revert to THEIR way of living. Even Anglo Saxons (to put it in a less confrontational way) who are homeless, will not often live in a room or home in the way we, who have never lived rough, do.
    All individuals should have access to clean hot and cold water, electricity and windows in their 'homes', that is unarguable but the manner in which their rooms/homes are kept and whether they sleep on the floor or bed and their cooking and cleaning methods, are ingrained. I know, I have neighbours who live in a manner which would be abhorrent to me.

     
  • Algarve  Investor

    Shockingly low fine - what kind of deterrent is that for appalling behaviour like this? As others have said above, the penalties need to be far harsher to discourage this kind of behaviour. £10,000 seems like small change - a piddly penalty.

    He should be banned from ever letting homes ever again. Is the Rogue Landlord & Agent checker even live yet? What is the point of that? Seems like a totally blunt instrument.

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    This is how they live pack themselves in like sardines to save money
    Hardly landlords fault Hackney council fault

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    A I. you must be very wealthy or lost all sense of value if you think £10’000. is a piddling fine, at a time LL’s have their backs to the wall and struggling to make end meet while being mugged.
    I suspect we are not getting the full story anyway, it seems likely they weren’t renting at all but dossing down at a place of work if that’s not too presumptuous of me, otherwise tell us what the Agreement was and how much they were paying.

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    I suspect you have hit the nail on the head there Michael, I won't deal with these people because this is how they work then it's the landlords head on the chopping block, not to be trusted

     
  • John  manley

    Don't even call him a landlord.That gives us all a bad name. He's just an opportunist trying to make money illegally.

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    This is a Rare example of a Rogue landlord, Not Every landlord that doesn't happen to have a License., yet the property is pristine ( as Tenant support groups argue when pressing for Maximum RRO's ! )

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