City landlords fined total of £23,000 over squalid homes

Oxford Mail: Ray Baxter, the city council's HMO licensing officer, outside 24 Wilkins Road Ray Baxter, the city council's HMO licensing officer, outside 24 Wilkins Road

LANDLORDS who left homes mouldy, rotten, cockroach-infested and crammed with tenants have been fined more than £23,000.

Oxford City Council has released pictures of three different properties in the city after their owners were prosecuted.

In one of the homes, 10 tenants are thought to have been living in squalid conditions.

Council officers visited the properties, all in East Oxford and Cowley, in April and May following complaints from the public.

The three landlords pleaded guilty to 34 offences between them and were sentenced at Oxford Magistrates’ Court in the last week.

Imran Hussain Ali, owner of 394 Cowley Road, was fined £9,266 after pleading guilty to 11 offences.

The 33-year-old, who lives at another address in Cowley Road , told council officers he did not know how many tenants occupied the house.

But they found evidence that it was occupied by at least 10 people following an inspection, the court heard.

There was no working fire detector, the electrics were in a “poor condition”, a fridge freezer was blocking the front door, the bathroom was filthy and in poor repair and in the kitchen only one ring was working on the cooker, which was coated in dirt and grease.

Cockroaches were also spotted throughout the property, indicating a heavy infestation.

Rizwan Sultan, of Rymers Lane, was fined £8,908 after pleading guilty to 13 offences relating to 24 Wilkins Road.

Officers visited the house in May in response to a complaint and found it occupied by a family of four and two other tenants.

The court heard that Mr Sultan could not provide any gas or electrical safety certificates and the house was in general disrepair with numerous rotted window frames and smashed windows, damaged door frames, a badly repaired kitchen ceiling, unsafe electrics, a fridge in the way of the front door and the bathroom in a poor state of repair.

He was previously convicted in 2008 for similar offences.

Barbur Ali, 29 of Lytton Road, was fined £5,250 after pleading guilty to 10 offences under the Housing Act 2004.

Officers visited his property at 33 Warwick Street in May and found nine adults and a child living there.

They found inadequate fire precautions, the smoke detector was broken, the cooker obstructed the washing machine and piles of rubbish had built up because there weren’t enough bins.

The latest successful prosecutions take the total number of landlords fined under a new council scheme to 31.

More than £50,000 in fines has been handed out by the courts since the compulsory licensing of Houses of Multiple Occupation began in 2011.

After the hearing, the Oxford Mail visited all three properties but there was no answer at any.

Neither Barbur Ali or Imran Ali were available at their home addresses. Mr Sultan, a private hire driver, declined to comment.

Speaking after the hearing, a Warwick Street resident said she felt sorry for the tenants, who she described as “good neighbours”.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, said: “I have no problem with them, they’re great, but I think they’re struggling because their landlord is irresponsible.”

City council deputy leader Ed Turner said: “I’m delighted that the magistrates have sent out such a tough warning to the minority of landlords in Oxford who flout the law.risk.”

Ray Baxter, the HMO licensing officer for the city council, said: “I’m pleased the courts are recognising the work we’re doing.”

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