Criminal landlords and letting agents who exploit their tenants are to be ‘named and shamed’ on a new online database, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced. The move is designed to increase renter confidence in the capital.
There are around two million private renters in London, with the past few years seeing growing concerns about rogue landlords making money whilst putting tenants in danger with terrible property upkeep standards.
The database will be built in partnership with London Boroughs and published on the Mayor’s website. It will cite criminals who have been successfully prosecuted for housing offences, allowing tenants to check a prospective landlord or letting agent before signing a contract.
Sadiq Khan said, “I refuse to stand by as thousands of Londoners suffer sky-high rents and horrendous living conditions in a city they call home.”
Though dishonest landlords are certainly in a minority, the horror stories shared by scammed tenants – and the prosecutions which have ensued – serve to illustrate the importance of discouraging dishonest, dangerous and illegal behaviour. Here are some of rogue letting agents and landlords who have driven this move…
- Andreas Stavrou Antoniades
This Finsbury Park landlord illegally converted a property into nine flats. In 2015, he was ordered to pay a £20,000 fine – the maximum magistrates could impose – plus £1,500 in costs and charges, brought by Haringey Council. He must also pay for the building to be converted into three more spacious flats that meet council guidelines.Tottenham Magistrates’ Court heard that Antoniades ignored several demands from council enforcement officers to stop using the property as separate flats. He is estimated to have made around £9,000 per month from renting them out. He had already been found guilty of a similar offence three years ago, when he was issued a £13,500 fine.
- Andrew Panayi
Letting out 180 properties, mostly on Caledonian Road near King’s Cross, this controversial landlord was ordered to repay £70,000 in rent under the Proceeds of Crime Act in 2015 after he pleaded guilty to letting an unlicensed basement for £975 per month. That’s despite an earlier council ruling that it was “an unsatisfactory and substandard unit of residential accommodation” with “inadequate light and outlook and poor living environment”. In the case brought by Islington Council, he was also fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,900 at Blackfriars Crown Court. 2014 accounts for Panayi’s company, Ploughcane, reveal net assets of £17m and a 2013 turnover of £2.7m, of which £2.3m was profit.
Panayi appeared in a 2012 BBC documentary about the area, in which he boasted of breaching planning rules and “milking” his properties.
- Katia Goremsandu
Once named the UK’s worst landlord, Goremsandu has been convicted a whopping seven times for housing offences – and fined a total of £16,565. Owning numerous rental properties in Haringey, the local council estimated her rental income at £188,000 per year including housing benefit payments. The council said it had taken action against her “for a range of issues relating to disrepair and the poor state of properties she rents out”. In 2014, she was prosecuted for putting renters at risk by covering a warning light on a faulty fire alarm in a property converted into seven flats in Tottenham. In 2012, she was convicted for leaving tenants without heating for prolonged periods of time during the winter. In the same year, a conviction was upheld against her at a crown court for renting out a damp house for over a year.
Though dishonest landlords are by far the minority, all landlords should keep up to date with the latest rules and regulations, as well as ensuring legal obligations are adhered to.
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