William Eichler 17 August 2016

Landlord fined thousands by council for ‘cramming’ 24 people in a house

A rogue landlord faces a court bill of almost £40,000 after being caught cramming 24 people into a house in Wembley.

Brent housing enforcement officers made an unannounced visit to a house belonging to Tilak Raj Sarna in January 2016 and found 24 tenants living there, including seven families with 10 young children.

Mr Sarna had a council license to house only seven people.

The residents were forced to live in squalid conditions, including an infestation of cockroaches, cold and damp rooms, and overflowing bins. There was also a disregard of basic fire safety measures.

Six tenants lived in an unheated shed in the house’s back garden which burnt down last October in a fire caused by a portable heater. The blaze occurred while a child was asleep in the shed, although no one was hurt.

The judge at Willesden Magistrates’ Court fined Mr Sarna £33,000 for overcrowding and fire safety offences. He was also ordered to pay costs of £6,420 and a £120 victim surcharge, making a total of £39,540.

The case also saw a prosecution for Mrs Anila Patel, who collected £3,700 monthly rent from the tenants on the landlord’s behalf. She was convicted of two offences and fined £1,000 and told to pay a £90 victim surcharge.

Cllr Harbi Farah, Brent Council’s lead member for housing, said: ‘This case underlines the necessity of our commitment to ensuring private tenants in our borough have safe, high quality accommodation.

‘In situations like this, unscrupulous landlords are not only taking financial advantage of vulnerable tenants; they’re also placing tenants’ lives in danger.’

Last month, housing officers from Brent discovered a ‘shanty town shack’ in Wembley with 31 people living in a four-bedroom house.

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