Landlords fined over £100,000 after Islington Council found 35 tenants squeezed into three two-bed flats

PUBLISHED: 12:36 21 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:46 21 October 2020

A smoke alarm has been taped over at this property in Seven Sisters Road. Picture: Islington Council

A smoke alarm has been taped over at this property in Seven Sisters Road. Picture: Islington Council

Picture: Islington Council

Two landlords in Islington who squeezed 35 tenants into three two-bedroom flats, have been fined £110,500 for forcing them all to endure dangerous and sub-standard conditions.

Bunk beds with a partition wall erected to split the window half way. Picture: Islington CouncilBunk beds with a partition wall erected to split the window half way. Picture: Islington Council

Islington Council’s environmental health officers discovered fire safety hazards, disrepair and overcrowding at three properties in Grosvenor Avenue and Seven Sisters Road.

Neighbours contacted the council after frequent disturbances at the semi-detached Victorian property in Grosvenor Avenue, and officers found 35 people living in three two-bedroom flats, with five or six people sleeping in each room.

Partitions had been erected midway across the windows, to create additional, smaller rooms filled with bunk beds. There was no working fire alarm system, room partitions were not fire resistant, and dangerous electrics posed a fire risk. Occupants did not have tenancy agreements, and paid rent in cash.

Two further properties in Seven Sisters Road where tenants also paid cash were found in a similar state.

Landlord Arun Bajaj, 60, from Coventry in the West Midlands, whose family owns all three properties, was found guilty of 15 offences in relation to the management of the two houses in Seven Sisters Road, after the council took the case to court.

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Meanwhile his co-defendant Antonio Ferraiuolo, 57, from north London, was found guilty of 35 offences over letting the Grosvenor Avenue property, which he was sub-letting from Bajaj, and over his management of the two Seven Sisters Road properties that he managed.

At a sentencing hearing at Reading Crown Court in August, Bajaj was handed a fine of £100,000, and Ferraiuolo was fined £10,500. Bajaj was also ordered to pay £20,000 costs.

Sentencing, His Honour (HH) Judge Clarke QC highlighted the serious overcrowding caused by Ferraiuolo, who had put up the partitions, and described him as “calculatedly criminal”for placing occupants “in very serious danger and criminally improper conditions”.

He also blamed Bajaj for “turning a blind eye” to the situation while being content to accept the rental income, accusing him of “permitting the properties to be exploited” and to “fall into dangerous disrepair”.

The council’s housing chief, Cllr Diarmaid Ward, said: “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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