A property company with assets in the Virgin Islands has paid a £8,000 civil penalty to Brent Council after two tenants illegally sublet one of its houses. This is the first civil penalty to be issued by the Council following new powers voted in by the cabinet in September.
The unlicensed eight-bedroom semi-detached house in Willesden Green was exposed after a neighbour complained to the Fire Brigade about overcrowding. A team of enforcement officers raided the property and found two head tenants, Adam Trantu and Liliana Caragheorghe, and the landlord in breach of house in multiple occupation (HMO) management and licensing regulations.
The boyfriend and girlfriend head tenants, who were not living in the house, had been illegally placing tenants inside the property at a rate of more than £3,400 a month over a two year period. Adam Trantu and Liliana Caragheorghe were fined £12,000 at Willesden Magistrates Court on 28 November despite failing to attend the court hearing. The couple, who were tried in their absence, were also each ordered to pay costs of £1,200 and a surcharge of £170 after being found guilty by the District Judge of profiting from chronic overcrowding.
Cllr Harbi Farah, Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, said: "Illegal subletters are a growing problem and we will see to it that their greed fails to prosper in Brent. A prosecution like this drives them out of the market because they no longer qualify to hold a property licence. Civil penalties are another way of bringing the message home to landlords who think that it won't cost them to turn a blind eye or ignore licensing laws."
Landlords who rent out substandard accommodation in Brent can face civil penalty charges of up to £30,000.
If you are a Brent landlord who lets out shared accommodation, you can apply for a licence online at www.brent.gov.uk/prslicensing
If you suspect that someone is renting out an unlicensed property in Brent, please report them anonymously at www.brent.gov.uk/reportaproperty