News

Overcrowded Islington flat leads to prosecution of letting agent

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

In the latest of a series of housing prosecutions by Islington Council, TheCityRooms.com Limited based in Cambridge Heath Road, London E1, has been prosecuted for failing to comply with an overcrowding notice.

According to Islington Council, an investigation was carried out at a flat in Mitchison Road, London N1, following a complaint from a tenant. Officers found five tenants occupying the property only suitable for three people. One room measuring just 6.1 square meters was found to be grossly undersized.

TheCityRooms.com Ltd was served with an Overcrowding Notice requiring that the undersized room must not be reoccupied once the tenant occupying the room at the time of inspection had moved out.

However, TheCityRooms.com Ltd disregarded the overcrowding notice and rented out the undersized room to another person.

On 14 May 2015, Highbury Magistrates’ Court heard the case and the company pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the Overcrowding Notice. The company was fined £850 on that charge and a further £400 for failing to reply to a ‘Section 16 Notice’ under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 that required them to confirm details of everyone with an interest in the property. It was also ordered to pay costs of £910 and a victim surcharge of £85; a total of £2,245.

The company director, Mr Jason Zhou (also known as Xingjian Zhou) was also fined £850 for breaching the Overcrowding Notice and ordered to pay £455.50 costs and a victim surcharge of £85.

In another case taken by Islington Council, a landlord has been prosecuted for failing to comply with an Improvement Notice. A spot check by environmental health officers uncovered a string of health and safety hazards at two self-contained flats in Stroud Green Road, London N4. Officers found that tenants were at risk from damp and mould, excessive cold, poor fire precautions, carbon monoxide, asbestos, falls and electrical safety hazards.

The landlord, Thierry Doudrich, of London E4, was served with two Improvement Notices requiring him to carry out remedial work to improve the living conditions. When Mr Doudrich failed to carry out the necessary works, despite efforts by council officers to help him to meet the required standard, a decision was taken to prosecute.

On 18 May 2015, Mr Doudrich pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the Improvement Notices. He was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay the council’s costs of £3394.56 with a victim surcharge of £120; a total of  £8,514.56.

Magistrates said that, despite the guilty plea, the level of the fine had to reflect the seriousness of the hazards at the properties that made them “potentially lethal” to anyone living there.

Commenting on the two cases, Cllr James Murray, executive member for housing and development, said: “We're determined that private landlords provide homes that are decent, safe and suitable to live in. Most landlords do the right thing and look after their tenants, but we will firmly hold to account those who put tenants at risk.

Landlords seeking more information about the property licensing requirements in Islington should visit www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/islington.

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