Two Kingsbury men have been convicted of obstructing a Brent Council housing enforcement officer from doing his job and holding him against his will.
Willesden Magistrates Court heard that Riken and Raj Patel became highly aggressive towards the officer while he was helping resolve a dispute between them and their landlady at the property they rented on Brampton Avenue, NW9.
Although it had been legally rented to him, his wife and two children, Riken Patel then secretly allowed Raj Patel and six other people to stay in the house without the landlord's permission - something that was expressly forbidden by his tenancy agreement. He then became hostile to his landlady when she discovered that the house had eleven people living in it and was dangerously overcrowded.
He contacted Brent Council to falsely claim that the landlady had deliberately allowed the house to fall into disrepair. In reality only the boiler and a window frame needed fixing - something the landlady was aware of and had tried to fix but had been turned away by the tenants.
To mediate, a Brent officer went to the property with the landlady and a gas engineer to install a new boiler. The officer questioned the 10 people living in the property about the legitimacy of their tenancy, which led to the tenants becoming aggressive. The officer was then prevented from leaving for 40 minutes by Raj Patel and Riken Patel's wife, and was only eventually able to leave the house when police escorted him out following a 999 call.
Both Riken and Raj Patel were convicted of obstruction. Riken Patel was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,318 - a total of £3,318. Raj Patel, who did not even bother to turn up for sentencing, was fined £2,500.
Cllr Harbi Farah, Brent Council's Lead Member for Housing said: "This truly shocking case is a reminder of the risk that our officers are exposed to each day as they go about their vital work. Our officer was simply trying to help this innocent landlady get access to her property to make necessary repairs, which the tenants themselves had demanded. It was such a traumatic episode that the officer broke down in court while giving evidence.
"You might think that housing enforcement officers only go after rogue landlords, but this shows that unruly, aggressive tenants can be a problem too. The vast majority of our landlords are decent, law abiding citizens who work cooperatively with their tenants.
"Our staff have the right to carry out their duties without fear of attack or abuse. We will always press for the strongest possible penalties against those who attack, threaten or abuse them."
The tenants, who have not paid their rent for the last five months, are in the process of being evicted by their landlady at the moment.