A landlord has been fined £1,250 after two pensioners were discovered living in slum conditions.
The shocking find was in Newham, the London council which is introducing England’s first blanket licensing scheme for all private rental properties on its patch.
The fine was levied on Sukhbir Singh Birak, 37, of Ilford, Essex, who admitted at Thames Magistrates Court failing to comply with an improvement notice served on him under the Housing Act by Newham Council in July 2011. This related to his mid-terrace three-bedroom Victorian house on Chester Road in Forest Gate.
Birak was also ordered to pay costs of £370 and a victim surcharge of £15.â?¨â?¨Council housing inspectors found the elderly couple living in what they described as a ‘hell hole’.
For over seven months the couple had put up with a deficient heating system, a broken window, collapsed ceilings in both the bedroom and kitchen, and an electric shower as the only source of hot water.
The landlord ignored numerous requests from the council who asked him to rectify these problems. Housing inspectors, with concerns for the welfare of the elderly couple, had to step in and carry out remedial works costing over £1,400, which the council is claiming back.
Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “We want to ensure that private sector rented properties are well managed and meet a good standard. We also want to deal with the crime and anti-social behaviour that is sometimes associated with bad private sector rented housing.
“One bad house can drag down a whole street and we are doing this for the community.
“There are good landlords in Newham and we want to work with them. Unfortunately there are also some unscrupulous ones – and these are the ones we are targeting.
“We will never accept private sector tenants being directly exploited by landlords who force them to live in dangerous and unacceptable conditions.
“Good landlords have nothing to fear. For the bad ones, we have a clear message: clean up your act or pay the price.”