The landlord of a property dubbed a “house of horrors” by Barking and Dagenham Council enforcement officers has been ordered to pay more than £8,000 by the courts.
Water leaks, broken windows and doors, a lack of fire protection, exposed electrical wiring, and rat and cockroach infestation were just some of the problems uncovered during an inspection by council officers at the semi-detached house on Netherfield Gardens, Barking.
The owner of the property, Mr Kalpesh Kapasiwala, of 82 Netherfield Gardens, Barking, IG11 9TN, had divided the family home into seven individual rooms, known as a house in multiple occupation – commonly referred to as an HMO.
When council officers visited the property in June last year, they were left gobsmacked at the failings they found throughout the entire house, which included several serious fire safety issues such as no fire doors, no working smoke alarms, and no carbon monoxide alarm.
Missing tiles and a roof in disrepair had allowed water to seep into the home, the boiler was plugged into an extension cable, and kitchen cupboards and units were missing handles and doors.
There was also a lack of adequate facilities for the seven people registered to live there, such as only one sink, one hob, one cooker, and one fridge.
The council wrote to Kapasiwala numerous times to give him the opportunity to correct the issues that had been identified, but he failed to adhere to any of the requests – even as far as ignoring letters he had been sent urging him to act or face prosecution.
Councillor Syed Ghani, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety, said: “This is a perfect example of a landlord thinking he is above the law, but learning the expensive lesson that he isn’t. We will not tolerate landlords who think they can put profits before people.
“This really was a house of horrors for the people who were paying to live there, with countless safety issues being highlighted by our officers. We will continue to do everything we can to make sure the small minority of dodgy landlords don’t risk our residents’ lives.”
In a hearing held at Barkingside Magistrates Court on 21 February 2023, which Kapasiwala failed to attend, he was fined £6,000 with £335 costs and a £2,000 victim surcharge.
Barking and Dagenham operates a borough-wide private rental licensing scheme, which requires all landlords to registered before they can lease their properties. For more information visit lbbd.gov.uk/licences-permits-and-registration/private-rented-property-licensing.