A landlord and a property management company have been found guilty of putting tenants at risk after a Council investigation and prosecution.
Council officers made a dawn raid at the 22-bedroom house of multiple occupation (HMO) at 36 Hyde Park Gate in 2021, where they found multiple fire and damp risks.
Blackstone Properties Management Limited and the director of the company Mr Mohamed Ali Rasool were fined a total of £480,000 plus costs at Westminster Magistrate Court on 1 November 2023.
Cllr Cem Kemahli, lead member for planning and public realm, said:
“Let this judgement be a clear lesson to other landlords and agents - if you are offering poor quality accommodation we will find you and we will come after you.
“We want the best homes in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Our landlord licensing schemes are seeking out the bad operators to ensure safer homes for everyone and a fairer market for good operators.
“Privately rented homes form a crucial part of our housing mix but they must be up to scratch. Our teams stand by to help and assist landlords in answering concerns or offering suggestions about how to improve your properties."
How did the Council investigate?
Following a complaint from a tenant back in 2020, the Council begun an investigation which would uncover the landlord was unlicensed to operate the 22-bedroom house-share style property. Despite repeated warnings, the landlord did not apply for a licence and the Council eventually visited with the Met Police and London Fire Brigade.
What were the problems at the property?
Officers found defective and damaged fire doors, inadequate fire separation between bedrooms and protection in the boiler room or lobby, covered fire alarms, burnt out and loose electrical sockets. Tenants were cooking in their room using camping-style facilities without proper kitchen facilities. There was rising damp and mould growth throughout the property and single glazed windows with rotten frames, draughts and broken sashes. The inside of the property was so damp that mushrooms were growing in upper floors.
What licenses do you need to operate a houseshare or flatshare?
It is a national legal requirement for HMO landlords to have a licence for homes with five or more tenants. In Kensington and Chelsea, the Council has recently introduced an additional licence for HMO landlords operating house and flatshares with three and four tenants, to improve standards in HMOs of all sizes. So far since June 400 landlords have applied for the new additional licence. Find out more about HMO licensing and how to apply.