A criminal ‘rogue’ tenant has been successfully prosecuted for pretending to be a landlord and was slapped with a £21,000 fine.
The fraudster rented five family homes as a tenant and then made them into bedsits which put more than 40 vulnerable tenants’ lives at risk.
Andrius Cikanavicius converted the properties into HMOs, without telling the agents or landlord and bothering to apply for the properties to be licensed.
Redbridge Council enforcement officers were shocked and horrified to find that rooms were unable to be opened from inside without keys, which in the case of fire could have lead to the death of the tenants who would be unable to escape, or would be severely delayed in escaping a blaze.
The council officers also found there were other major breaches of fire safety regulations. The properties did not have any fire doors, did not have fire blankets and there were not any interlinked smoke alarms throughout; it was also discovered that the underside of the staircase had no fire-resistant plasterboard.
All of the houses were desperately overcrowded and the lack of shared facilities was appalling.
Redbridge Council prosecuted the conman for failing to comply with licensing conditions and on June 21st at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court, he was ordered to pay £14,600 in fines of which £13,300 was for fire safely breaches.
The judge also ordered the conman to pay £7,000 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.
Councillor Farah Hussain, cabinet member for housing and homelessness, said: “It’s appalling that Mr. Cikanavicius would put vulnerable people at risk of death, simply for his own profit.
“This case has exposed a serious abuse of licensing regulations and a man who thought he could charge people hundreds of pounds a month to live in a death trap.
“We are serious and determined about improving standards in the private rented sector and we will continue to knock on the door of all suspected HMOs and unlicensed properties to root out rogue operators and ensure they feel the full force of the law.”
Let’s Go Let Comment-
As the consumer, ( The Tenant ) you need to make sure that the property you are going to take on is all above board. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As a letting agent , It’s part of my job to make sure that the landlord is the legitimate owner of the property, and that it complies to all the required legislations.
Don’t make it easy for these guys to make money on the back of you. In my opinion, the sooner the law comes in to play where all Landlords will have to use a professional body for the initial let, can only be a good thing.