A Reading landlord has been fined £20,000 after a successful prosecution by Reading Borough Council. His offences include failure to maintain emergency lighting and depriving tenants of light supply.
Hafiz Mohammed Gulfraz, aged 43, who lives at Andrews Road, Reading, admitted having control of a house in multiple occupation without a licence, breach of an emergency prohibition order and intentionally disrupting the gas and electricity supply to the property as well as a string of safety breaches. In addition to the £20,000 fine, Gulfraz was ordered to pay £3,343 costs as well as a victim surcharge of £120.
The offences – which took place in 2015 – relate to a property on Oxford Road, Reading, owned by Gulfraz. The defendant was charged with 12 offences (five of which magistrates considered the most serious and on which the significant fine was based), including failing to ensure that the fire alarm and emergency lighting were maintained in good working order and intentionally depriving tenants of heat and light supply. The court said that the case was one of the worst that it had ever dealt with.
The council’s began an investigation in January 2015, after it was contacted by one of the tenants then living at the property. Council officers found a number of health and safety hazards at the property including excess cold due to the gas central heating system being disconnected on one of the coldest weeks of the year.
The Council believed there was an imminent risk of harm if the tenants were to remain living in the property and an emergency prohibition order was served. The property had been unlicensed as a house in multiple occupation (HMO), even though there were five tenants living there.
Richard Davies, lead councillor for housing at Reading Borough Council, said: “The private rented sector is large in Reading and is a rapidly-growing market. Most landlords provide decent and well-managed homes but there are a few who do not meet the standards their tenants have a right to expect. The Council will always stand up for residents who live in private rented accommodation. We take our regulatory duties for HMOs very seriously and will prosecute those who flout the law.”
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