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Owner fined after 33 people were found in Whitechapel flat

Words: Laura Edgar
Illegal HMO / iStock-539281399

Thames Magistrates’ Court has ordered the owner and agent of a Whitechapel flat to pay a fine of more than £30,000 over an illegal house in multiple occupation (HMO).

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets’ environmental health team found 33 people living in 5-7 Court Street after a tip-off led them to raid the property. The team was accompanied by the police and officers from other partner agencies.

The team also found a flat containing nine people, including two 10-year old children.

Freeholder Maqbool Khan pleaded guilty to numerous housing breaches and was sentenced in January. Mohammed Abul Miah, director of managing agent ARS Properties, did not attend court but the case against him was proven in his absence.

John Biggs, mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “The conditions that these tenants were living in were totally unacceptable. Too often we see the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society being taken advantage of by rogue landlords and it is right that the courts have sent a strong message that this will not be tolerated.

“The victims were people who had come to London from overseas in the hope of a better future, only to find themselves in overcrowded and unsafe housing. We are working with responsible landlords and agents to strengthen our Private Renters’ Charter and drive up standards for tenants.”

According to the council, the property was being used to house people on a nightly basis with occupants handing over money for a space to sleep.

The environmental health team found people sleeping in bunk beds and on mattresses on the floor, while the team also found an infestation of cockroaches and defective drainage. The flats failed to meet basic fire safety standards.

Five people were arrested for immigration offences and others were referred for onward assistance.

In total, the penalties issued against the defendants – Maqbool Khan, Mohammed Abul Miah (director of managing agents ARS Properties Ltd) and ARS Properties – amounted to £30,905.19.

Image credit | iStock