Monday, 13 June 2011

Fire hazard landlords sentanced

A Cardiff landlord with a series of housing regulation breaches and unpaid council taxes to his name has been fined £7000 this week at Cardiff Crown Court for three offences of failure to licence and one of failure to comply with licensing conditions.

Licensing of larger houses in Multiple occupation became law in June 2006 and is intended to protect the tenants of these higher risk properties from unsuitable landlords.

You can read all about what additional licensing means for students here:

http://www.cardiffdigs.co.uk/licensing.htm

And full details on the council’s webpage here




Mohammed Zafar Malik is a professional landlord with a portfolio of about 27 properties in the City and was aware of the requirements to licence such properties as early as November 2006, By July 2009 he had licensed 6 properties, but in November 2009, inspections identified 3 properties owned by Mr. Malik which were licensable, but for which no application to licence had been made.

In addition, in another property which Mr. Malik had licensed on Treherbert Street, he had failed to comply with the licence conditions in respect of the fire precautions in that the fire alarm was faulty and there was no fire door between the lounge/kitchen and the hallway. This was a 3 storey property with 8 tenants.

Mr. Malik pleaded guilty to all the charges. Following this plea, the Council asked the Magistrates to refer the matter to the Crown Court for sentencing and for consideration of a Proceeds of Crime Act investigation (POCA) which was granted. At the subsequent POCA hearing, it was agreed that Mr Malik would pay £6000.

At this week’s sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court, Mr. Malik was fined £4,000 for failure to comply with the licence conditions at 20 Treherbert Street and £1,000 for each of the offences of failure to obtain a licence. He was ordered to pay the Council’s costs of £200. His Honour Judge Llewellyn-Jones QC also confirmed the confiscation order. Mr. Malik was instructed that failure to pay the fines within 6 months would attract a prison sentence of 6 months. In addition, failure to pay the confiscation order within 6 months would lead to a consecutive prison sentence of a further 6 months.

Mr. Malik has previously been prosecuted by the Council for failure to comply with an Improvement Notice under Section 11, Housing Act 2004 relating to provision of fire precautions for which he was fined £4,000, and has also been prosecuted under planning legislation.

Mr. Malik is known to owe the Council around £80,000 in unpaid Council Tax and a further sum in unpaid Building Control fees. During the licensing of Mr. Malik’s properties, inspections have confirmed that he has frequently carried out extensions and conversions either without planning approval or not in accordance with the planning permission given. In addition, works have been

carried out without consultation or inspection by Building Control officers. In some cases these have lead to property layouts which present a significant risk to the tenants. In one case, it became necessary to serve a Prohibition Order under Section 20, Housing Act 2004 in respect of one room in a house as there was no safe means of escape from fire.

As a result of the above matters, the Council will now have to consider whether Mr. Malik can continue to be considered, under Section 66, Housing Act 2004, a fit & proper person to hold licences.

Executive Member for Communities, Housing and Social Justice, Deputy Leader, Cllr Judith Woodman said, “I am pleased that the court has acknowledged the seriousness of Mr Malik’s offences and punished him accordingly. The message has to go out that landlords have a duty of care to their tenants and must comply with licensing requirements for their safety. Where we find these requirements breached, action will be taken by our committed Private Housing Sector enforcement team and could lead to prosecution.”

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