Eight criminal landlords (five individuals and three companies) have been fined £434,000 for offences under the Housing Act 2004
It includes the operation of 14 unlicensed houses in multiple occupation (HMO) and a catalogue of breaches relating to fire safety, tenant information and maintenance of the properties.
West Northamptonshire Council’s (WNC) Private Sector Housing Team began investigating the gang and their activities in 2019 and attended the properties under a Housing Warrant in September 2020 and January 2021 after concerns were raised over safety.
The five individuals used a range of false and misleading documents to acquire properties from high street letting agents, purporting to be taking on properties for themselves as single family properties before converting them to HMOs. They then set up companies to handle the rent payments between themselves, the tenants and the property owners.
During sentencing last week (Friday, 24 March) at Northampton Magistrates Court, the District Judge remarked that this was a deliberate, large-scale operation of falsity and that the defendants broke safety laws with no regard to the safety of the tenants, engineered solely for financial gain and profit.
The District Judge identified Aleksejs Cugurovs, 33, of St Leonards Road, Northampton, as the instigator of the scheme and imposed a fine of £270,000 - with a contribution to the Council’s investigation costs of £5,000.
The other defendants included Maxims Borozdins, 37, who was fined £30,000 with a costs contribution of £5,000, and Valdims Oblikovs, 33, of Riga Latvia, who was fined £2,000.
The remaining defendants did not attend the Court and were fined in their absence, these included:
Karlis Cernihs, fined £60,000 with a costs contribution of £5,000
Dimitri Vinconschii, fined £40,000, with a costs contribution of £5,000
Charlex Limited, fined £4,000
Convid Limited, fined £5,000
Civon Limited, fined £3,000
Councillor Adam Brown, Deputy Leader of WNC and Cabinet Member for Housing, Culture and Leisure, said: “This was a well-planned, cunning and conniving scheme for the purposes of financial gain. I am pleased the court has imposed a substantial fine which will hopefully deter rogue landlords and persuade them to comply with the law in future.
“While the Housing Team cannot visit every property, we won’t hesitate to step in when we have evidence of wrongdoing. I would urge anyone with concerns to report it via our website so that we can carry out an investigation and make renting safer for our residents.”