News

Substantial £75,000 penalty for Ealing rogue landlord

Friday, August 21, 2015 - Ealing Council

In one of the highest fines to date, an Ealing landlord has been ordered to pay £75,215 for failing to license four houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), protect tenants and comply with various improvement notices and prohibition orders.

Mr Gunapalan Vamathevan, also known as Mr Bala, the owner and manager of three properties in Old Oak Common Lane and a property in St Andrews Road in Acton, received fines for nine housing offences at Ealing Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 6 August 2015.

He was fined almost £70,000 and ordered to pay the council’s court costs of £5,395 and a victim surcharge of £120, a total penalty of £75,215.

Councillor Ranjit Dheer, cabinet member for safety, culture and community services, said: “This case is a significant result against an unscrupulous landlord who has previously been prosecuted by the council for his disregard of licensing regulations.

We make every effort to ensure residents in our borough are well protected and have decent living standards. We take a tough line against anyone who deliberately flouts the law and Mr Vamathevan has quite rightly been given a very heavy penalty for his prolonged and intentional illegal behaviour.

The successful prosecution was brought by Ealing Council’s regulatory services, following an investigation into reports received in 2014 that the properties were being operated as unlicensed HMOs.

A warrant of entry was executed on the three properties in Old Oak Common Lane in June 2014, where council officers found evidence they were being operated as unlicensed HMOs, contrary to Section 72(1) of the Housing Act 2004. They also found breaches relating to the management of the HMOs.

Subsequent notices were served in relation to the condition of the properties, including prohibition orders under section 20 of the Housing Act 2004 for dangerous staircases, and improvement notices relating to serious hazards.

An inspection of the property in St Andrews Road in October 2014 also found it to be operating as an unlicensed HMO. A subsequent prohibition order was made for a hazardous staircase and an improvement notice was also served on Vamathevan relating to lack of fire safety in the property. 

Numerous HMO licensing application forms along with warning letters were sent to Vamathevan, but no applications were submitted for the properties. Follow-up inspections by officers found that the required works under the improvement notices had not been carried out and the prohibition orders had been breached.

Ealing Council take a robust approach to such offences and prosecuted Vamathevan for failing to licence the properties as HMOs, failing to manage the properties and failing to comply with the notices served. In February 2015, he eventually submitted the HMO licence applications, after prosecution for the offences had begun.

For more information on HMO licensing in Ealing, visit www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/ealing. You can also find information on the council’s website

To report any concerns, or suspected breaches, relating to HMOs, you can email the council at propertyregulation@ealing.gov.uk.

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