Rogue landlord jailed for fake HMO documents
A rogue landlord who converted three family homes to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) without securing planning permission has been jailed for falsifying documents designed to prevent enforcement action.
Siddarth Mahajan, 38 from Milton Crescent, Ilford purchased a three-bedroom property in Sherwood Gardens, Barking in July 2015. Council officers investigated following concerns that building works had been carried out at the property without prior planning permission. The investigation revealed the property had been converted to a HMO, without planning permission.
Mahajan claimed that the property had been in use as a HMO for more than 10 years and was therefore immune from enforcement action. He produced a number of documents to support this claim including several tenancy agreements, a letter from an estate agent and a sworn affidavit which appeared to show that the property had been a HMO as far back as 2008.
Enquiries by the council’s Specialist Investigations Team with the estate agent and previous owners revealed that all the submitted documents were forgeries.
The Special Investigations Team also examined other properties owned by Mahajan. He had purchased two further properties (in St Erkenwald Road and Ripple Road, Barking) as family homes and had also converted them to HMOs without securing planning permission.
Mahajan claimed that these properties had also been in continuous use for over 10 years as HMOs and were therefore also immune from enforcement action. He submitted supporting evidence including tenancy agreements and sworn affidavits from alleged previous tenants. The Special Investigations Team found that the documents were forgeries and the affidavits were untrue.
After Mahajan declined to attend interviews on a number of occasions, he was arrested and interviewed under caution.
On Thursday 31 January 2019, a jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court found Mahajan guilty of two counts of perverting the course of justice and three counts of using copies of forged documents. He was sentenced to eight months imprisonment on each to run concurrently, a total of sixteen months.
HH Judge Gordon told Mahajan that he had “planned sophisticated criminal activity over a lengthy period” and was motivated “solely by greed.” He took the view that only an immediate custodial sentence would meet the seriousness of the case.
“This case shows Barking and Dagenham Council’s absolute determination to protect our residents from rogue landlords who put profit before people."
Councillor Mullane, Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety said: “This case shows Barking and Dagenham Council’s absolute determination to protect our residents from rogue landlords who put profit before people.
“This dishonest landlord repeatedly refused to comply with the law and we pursued all the legal avenues that were available to us to ensure that he was brought to justice.
“We will continue to crack down on rogue landlords to improve standards and to ensure that tenants in our borough have a decent home.”
Venkata Munnaluri, 40, from Academy Way, Dagenham was a caretaker at a property managed by Mahajan. Council investigations showed that he provided a false affidavit for the property in Sherwood Gardens, Barking.
On Friday 9 March 2018 at Barkingside Magistrates Court, Munnaluri pleaded guilty to making a false statement on oath and was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay £300 costs, a £115 victim surcharge and ordered him to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work.