17.8.16 Fined: Landlord who crammed 24 people into Wembley house licensed for SEVEN tenants

19-10-2016

Brent Council discovered six people living in the garden shed had a lucky escape when it burnt down in October 2015.

The landlord who crammed 24 people into a cockroach infested house in Wembley and an unheated shed in the garden has been fined almost £40,000.

Tilak Raj Sarna’s property in Bowrons Avenue was licensed to house just seven people but instead he squeezed seven families with 10 young children into the property which was in a dangerous condition.

Willesden Magistrates’ Court heard Sarna was caught when officers from Brent Council made an unannounced visit to the house in January 2016.

The blaze, which started while a child was asleep inside, was exacerbated by the sheer number of people living in the confined space.

The house itself was overrun with cockroaches, lacked basic fire safety measures including inadequate fire doors and missing smoke alarms, had cold and damp rooms and had overloaded electrical sockets.

Sarna, who lives in Pinner, had initially denied any wrongdoing but admitted overcrowding and fire safety offences after two days of cross examination.

He was fined £33,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,420 and a £120 victim surcharge, totalling 39,540.

Anila Patel who collected £3,700 monthly rent from the tenants on Sarna’s behalf was convicted of two offences and fined £1,000 and told to pay a £90 victim surcharge.

Councillor Harbi Farah, Brent Council’s lead member for housing, said: “This case underlines the necessity of our commitment to ensuring private tenants in our borough have safe, high quality accommodation. In situations like this, unscrupulous landlords are not only taking financial advantage of vulnerable tenants; they’re also placing tenants’ lives in danger.

“We are improving standards in Brent’s private rented properties by working with landlords through our property licensing regime, which helps ensure that tenants do not have to live in filthy, dangerous accommodation.”

Councillor Margaret McLennan, Brent Council’s deputy leader, accompanied officers on the raid in January.

She said: “As he had been granted a licence Sarna knew exactly what was required of him, so we are very pleased that the court shared our view of the seriousness of the offences and imposed such severe penalties”.

All the tenants living in the property have since found alternative accommodation.

Story collated by Liz Turnbull.

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