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Landlords fined over £130k after squeezing 35 tenants into three flats

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 22/10/2020 Katie Weston For Mailonline
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Two slum landlords have been fined over £130,000 after 35 tenants were found squeezed into three two-bedroom flats on bunk beds with no fire alarms.

Landlords Arun Bajaj and Antonio Ferraiuolo were prosecuted after up to six people were discovered sleeping in the same rooms at their properties.

Environmental health officers said one building had no working fire alarm system, new partitions to make the rooms smaller, bunk beds that were not fire resistant and other fire risks including dangerous electrics.

Tenants at one of the three flats in Islington, north London, did not have tenancy agreements and paid rent in cash, the local authority said.

clothes hanging on a wall: Two landlords have been fined over £130,000 after 35 tenants were found squeezed into three flats in Islington, London. Pictured: Bunk beds with a partition wall midway across a window © Provided by Daily Mail Two landlords have been fined over £130,000 after 35 tenants were found squeezed into three flats in Islington, London. Pictured: Bunk beds with a partition wall midway across a window

Neighbours raised the alarm to Islington Council after there were frequent disturbances at the building.

After inspecting the converted semi-detached Victorian home, officers discovered tenants that had been living there were then moved to two other properties nearly two miles away in Seven Sisters Road.

This meant residents were again left in overcrowded rooms with hazardous fire conditions.

Bajaj, 60, who lives in Coventry, West Midlands, and owned all three of the properties along with his family, was found guilty of 15 offences over the management of the two properties in Seven Sisters Road.

Ferraiuolo, 57, from north London, was found guilty of 35 charges over the letting of a property in nearby Grosvenor Avenue and his management of the two other flats.

He was subletting the Grosvenor Avenue flat and was Bajaj's manager at the Seven Sisters Road properties.

A total of 35 breaches of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations was discovered by the council.

At Reading Crown Court Bajaj was handed a fine of £100,000 and was ordered to pay £20,000 costs, while Ferraiuolo was fined £10,500.

Judge Clarke QC sentencing the pair, highlighted the serious overcrowding caused by Ferraiuolo, who put up partitions to create extra, smaller rooms and filled them with bunk beds.

Judge Clarke added that Bajaj had turned a 'blind eye to the situation' and was content to just accept the rents from the properties.

A smoke alarm (pictured above) taped over at one of the flats on Seven Sisters Road in Islington, London. Residents were left in overcrowded rooms with hazardous fire conditions © Provided by Daily Mail A smoke alarm (pictured above) taped over at one of the flats on Seven Sisters Road in Islington, London. Residents were left in overcrowded rooms with hazardous fire conditions

The judge described Ferraiuolo as 'calculatedly criminal' and said he placed the occupants of the properties 'in very serious danger and criminally improper conditions'.

Judge Clarke added that Bajaj allowed the properties to be 'exploited' and 'fall into dangerous disrepair'.

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council's executive member for housing and development, said after the case: 'Islington Council is on the side of private renters across our borough and we are determined to ensure that each and every person that lives in the borough has a decent, safe and secure property to call home.

'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.

'We are pleased that these two defendants have been brought to justice and handed suitable fines for their offences.' 

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