Bogus landlord lands whopping fine after years of illegal sublet
10 March 2021
A head tenant who posed as a landlord has been slapped with £9,047.50 in fines and costs, plus a criminal record, for breaching housing laws.
Brent originally issued Mrs Sonia Nascimento with a £5,000 Civil Penalty Notice but after she refused to pay it, the council had no option other than to take the matter to court. The hefty £9,047.50 court total is almost double the fine issued by Brent and now Mrs Nascimento also has a criminal record to boot.
Mrs Nascimento rented out a converted, four-bedroom flat from a landlord in Willesden back in 2017, and then went on to illegally sublet the property to other tenants for a profit.
One of the tenants living at the flat in St Paul’s Avenue reported Mrs Nascimento to Brent’s private housing services in July last year, saying that eight people were sharing the property but that none of them had a tenancy agreement.
An inspection carried out by the council’s enforcement team under strict COVID-19 safety guidelines in July last year discovered that the property was without a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence, and that Mrs Nascimento, who did not live in the flat, was in breach of housing management regulations.
Last week, Willesden Magistrates Court heard how a lack of smoke alarms and a fire safety system put all tenants in danger at the flat, including the life of a four-month-old baby.
Mrs Nascimento was found guilty of failing to take measures to protect the occupiers of the HMO from injury. Because the property was unlicensed, the tenants did not have a tenancy agreement or a government-approved deposit scheme to secure their deposit money.
The owner, who paid occasional visits to the flat, was issued with a £2,500 Civil Penalty Notice (CPN) for failure to licence. But Mrs Nascimento failed to pay her £5,000 CPN, and so the case moved to court, where magistrates found her guilty of criminal offences and ordered her to pay £9,047.50 in fines, costs and victim surcharge on 4 March this year.
Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, said: “Most landlords recognise the important responsibilities that come with it. Landlords who fail to licence their properties or who are not following housing management regulations are breaking the law. Safety of tenants is our priority and we encourage anyone who suspect that their landlord may be acting outside the law to report their concerns to us.”
Call to action:
If you are a landlord of a privately rented property, find out whether you need a licence and how to apply.
Photo below of shortened handrail at the top of the stairs inside the property where a four-month-old baby was also living.