Two landlords in Golders Green have been fined £21,500 by Barnet Council for putting their tenants “at risk” in an overcrowded home infested with rats and cockroaches.
Enforcement officers dispatched by Barnet Council to the property at 80 Highfield Avenue, behind Brent tube station, said that they found “stairs and flooring that had been partially eaten by rats, and a severe cockroach infestation”.
Barnet Council added that the property had not been registered as a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO). This was despite it housing nine tenants, including a pregnant woman and a father who shared a “run-down room” with his two children.
The enforcement officers visited the site in August 2018.
Many properties on Highfield Avenue are owned by Jewish families, and the street is home to Hagers’ Shul, a Strictly Orthodox shteibl.
Landlords Asher and Hannah Abraham were together fined £21,500, with £6,113.96 in legal costs and a £340 in victim surcharges after a hearing at Willesden Magistrates Court on July 7.
Cllr Richard Cornelius, the Chair of Barnet Council’s Housing and Growth Committee, said: “We will not tolerate dodgy landlords in Barnet. These people have purposefully breached the law and put their tenants at risk. The COVID-19 lockdown cannot be used as an excuse not to license HMOs and ensure that properties are safe”.
“I am delighted to see the courts supporting the council in sending out a strong message tht this kind of behaviour is not acceptable”.
Letting agents Easy Lettings and UKPA Property Consultants, who rented out the rooms, were each fined £2,500 and ordered to pay costs of £764.25 and a victim surcharge of £170.
Easy Lettings said in a statement: "The landlord lied twice to his managing agent claiming he had applied twice for an HMO licence, when queried by Easy Lettings."
The statement added: "When the landlord was caught for failing to manage a HMO without a valid license, he then tried getting out of it by shifting all the blame onto his letting agents resulting in Easy Lettings being caught up in wider issues."
Easy Lettings said that they and UKPA were now seeking to sue the landlords for defamation.