Licensing enforcement makes legal history against racketeering landlords

13 December 2018

  • Brent's licensing enforcement team wins historic victory against rogue landlords under Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA)
  • Rogues are slammed with £244,367 penalties under POC
  • Unprecedented POCA case sees Brent set legal trend for councils across the country

 

A Crown Court judge has ordered a family of landlords who crammed 31 tenants into a four-bedroom property to pay thousands of pounds in fines, costs and Confiscation Orders.

 

Mum and daughter, Harsha and Chandni Shah, were pocketing around £116,000 over 40 months by stuffing 31 people into appalling conditions in a four-bedroom house in Wembley.

 

They were assisted by Jaydipkumar Valand, who was acting as their agent and collecting rent from the 31 tenants stuffed inside a four-bedroom house in Napier Road, Wembley.

 

Enforcement officers from Brent Council also found a woman living in a lean-to shed in the back garden of the property during a raid on the premises in July 2016. The shack had no lighting or heating and was made out of wood offcuts, pallets and tarpaulin.

 

Her Honour Judge Wood of Harrow Crown Court made a Confiscation Order for the sum of £116,000 against Harsha Shah and Chandni Shah under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Mr Valand was also subjected to a confiscation order for the sum of £5,000.

 

Harsha Shah, Chadni Shah and Sanjay Shah were sentenced to pay £41,000 in fines. All the defendants were ordered to pay £82,367 in costs. The total payable amounted to £244,367.

 

A confiscation order was not awarded against Sanjay Shah because the court was not persuaded that he had benefitted from his criminal activity in running the illegal, overcrowded HMO. However, the judge held that that he had played a key role in facilitating the illegal operation and fined him along with the other defendants.

 

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, said: "We will use every legal power we have to come down hard on landlords and agents who exploit tenants in Brent. Every house in multiple occupation needs a licence, which helps to create decent living standards in the borough. We will track down landlords who do not licence their properties and rip off tenants by housing them in miserable conditions."

 

During the raid in 2016, enforcement officers found some residents sharing a single bed with night workers swapping sleeping shifts with those who worked during the day. Four beds were discovered piled into the front room and three in each bedroom.

 

Previous case law had indicated that Confiscation Orders could not be obtained in cases such as this. But Brent proved that its case could be distinguished from previous cases. Councils from all over the country are using Brent's historic legal win as a precedence.

 

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