Friday, 24 February 2012

Rogue landlords have no place in #rdg

I was just on @BBCBerkshire to talk about a recent prosecution of a rogue landlord.  BBC South Today is also planning to cover the story this evening, so look out for it.  


Responsible landlords know that this sort of thing is horrendous behaviour and brings their role into disrepute.  The tenants in this case were given false information, unsafe and unsanitary accommodation and to make it a bit harder to get leverage their landlord was already in prison for drugs offences. 


In Reading we are a successful town/city and a popular place to live.  That means we have high demand and a constrained supply of housing.  A situation that means that rogue landlords like this sadly can find tenants.  One of the tenants in this case was also a recent arrival in the country and didn't know all their rights.


I am determined that we take strong action to ensure that these rogue landlords have no place in Reading and are driven out of business.


Council release is below:


A rogue landlord who forced his tenant to live in dangerous and dirty conditions and without adequate hot water or heating has been convicted by Magistrates following a lengthy Reading Borough Council prosecution.



Abdul Naeem Hanif, 38, faced 20 charges at Reading Magistrates Court earlier this month, all connected with the unacceptable living conditions at the property which he rented out at Neuk (house name), Field Road, Reading.



They included a damaged electric socket outlet, smoke detector, extractor fan, door handle and cooker, plus large sections of plasterboard missing from the ceiling. There was also a failure to maintain the gas supply to the property, which meant resulting in a lack of adequate heating, hot water and cooking facilities.



Hanif also repeatedly ignored requests by the Council officers to supply information regarding the rundown property.



Reading Magistrates found Hanif guilty of 13 of the 20 charges, which spanned breaches of the Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006; Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Section 16 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.



He was fined a total of £665, but stated in court he was unable to pay. Imprisonment in default of the fine was therefore imposed by magistrates to run concurrently with a sentence of 4 years he is serving for separate drugs offences.



The successful conviction follows a lengthy prosecution process followed by determined officers in the Housing and Environmental Protection Team at Reading Borough Council. The case was complicated by issues over ownership, management and later by the landlord's conviction and imprisonment for separate offences. All of these factors all resulted in two-and-a-half years worth of adjournments before he was finally convicted on February 16 2012.



One of the tenants living at the Field Road property from May 2009 onward wrote to the Council following the recent conviction and said: 'Thanks for taking your enforcement measures very seriously. I am glad (and I do very hope so) that he will never again have the opportunity of taking advantage of his tenants. My experience with him has remained a very pronounced scar in my memory of my early months in the UK.'



Rachel Eden, Reading's Lead Councillor for Housing and Neighbourhoods, said: 'I was genuinely shocked by the conditions I saw when I met the tenants living in this property. I'm relieved that they are no longer having to put up with this. While most landlords are responsible, the council will continue take action against rogue landlords who refuse to provide decent accommodation in order protect tenants as well as support landlords who want to improve the standard of accommodation they provide."



The Field Road property itself is currently being managed by a relative and conditions have improved.