35 people found living in three small flats in London
London, Oct. 22, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Two landlords have been fined more than £100,000 after 35 people were found living in “criminally improper conditions” in three small flats in Islington, London
Arun Bajaj, 60, and Antonio Ferraiuolo, 57, rented the two bedroom flats out within a converted semi-detached Victorian home in Islington.
Tenants at the properties were found to be at risk from serious fire safety hazards, overcrowding and disrepair.
The building was found to have no working fire alarm system, new room partitions that were not fire resistant, and fire risks including dangerous electrics. Occupants of the property slept in bunk beds at up to six people per room. They did not have tenancy agreements, and paid rent in cash.
The smallest bedrooms were around 50 square foot, smaller than the recommended size for a prison cell.
Neighbours contacted the Environmental Health team at Islington Council after frequent disturbances at the property. After inspecting the Victorian building, officers later discovered that tenants that had been living there had been moved to two other properties on Seven Sisters Road.
Inspections of those properties found tenants had to sleep in overcrowded rooms where fire safety was compromised.
Following a prosecution by the council Bajaj, 60, who lives in Coventry, was found guilty of 15 offences in relation to the management of the two properties in Seven Sisters Road. He and his family owned all three of the properties.
Co-defendant Ferraiuolo, 57, from North London, was found guilty of 35 offences in relation to the letting of the Victorian property and his management of the two properties in Seven Sisters Road.
At a sentencing hearing at Reading Crown Court, Bajaj was handed a fine of £100,000, while Ferraiuolo was fined £10,500. In addition, Bajaj was ordered to pay £20,000 costs.
The judge described Ferraiuolo as “calculatedly criminal” and said he placed the occupants of the properties “in very serious danger and criminally improper conditions”. HH Judge Clarke added that Bajaj permitted the properties to be “exploited” and “fall into dangerous disrepair”.
Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Housing and Development, said: “This case shows that, where landlords and managers put their tenants at risk and provide substandard conditions, they will be held to account by the council and by the courts.” ES