15:09 PM, 24th November 2011, About 11 years ago
Landlord Pavlos Chatzinopoulos was fined £2,515 for making tenants share with cramped rooms with tenants they did not know.
Swindon Council swooped on the property after a female renter tipped them off about the state of the house in multiple occupation when a man moved in to her room with her.
The council housing team found two sharers in a room of only 60 square feet that had no smoke detector or other fire safety precautions demanded by law.
Chatzinopoulos, 45, admitted letting an overcrowded room and failing to carry out fire safety work at the shared house in Tudor Walk, Walcot, Swindon.
The court heard that tenants claimed £70 a week housing benefit each for letting the overcrowded room – giving Chatzinopoulos an income of up to £560 a month.
The council is reviewing the housing benefits payments to Chatzinopoulos but a spokesman said: “Tenants are free to choose their own accommodation and, although Mr Chatzinopoulos has been found to be in breach of the Housing Act 2004 and the non-compliance of legal notices, he has since complied with these notices.
“His property is now occupied under the imposed maximum occupancy limit and it complies with the Housing Act 2004 and the council’s adopted standards.”
Meanwhile letting agent Key Property (UK) was fined £1,865 and ordered to pay £450 costs after being found guilty by magistrates at Felthem, Middlesex, of failing to produce a tenancy agreement for a rental property. Hounslow Council asked for the agreement to see if the property needed to be licensed as an HMO, but the firm ignored the request in March until a summons was issued in July.
Councillor Steve Curran, cabinet member for housing, said: “We have a legal duty to investigate breaches of housing law, and failing to produce documents at a time and place specified that we need to carry out our investigations is a criminal offence.
“This case need not have gone to court, but the company’s failure to comply with the law left us with no choice.”
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