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A garage owner who rented out unused railway-arch property as residential accommodation has been fined just short of £9,000.
Mehmet Gurcuoglu, a director of the Hackney Downs company Golden Motors, pleaded guilty to operating a privately rented HMO without a licence and to five other breaches when appearing before Thames Magistrates Court this month.
Hackney Council had taken action against Gurcuoglu after council officers had joined police on a raid of the property in 2019. They discovered tenants living in ‘appalling conditions without windows, proper washing facilities or fire safety measures’.
Magistrates heard that the ‘converted’ property, an unused part of a railway arch car wash and tyre workshop, had bedrooms with dangerous electrics, no natural light and a kitchen without hot water.
The illegal premises also had tyres stored up to the ceiling that blocked emergency escape routes. As well as being flammable, if set alight the tyres would have emitted toxic gases. The one battery-operated smoke alarm had been covered over with plastic sheeting. Gurcuoglu was fined £8,992.
‘This is one of the most atrocious cases of mistreatment of private tenants we have seen in Hackney, with the landlord putting lives at risk by placing people in conditions that simply aren’t meant for living in’, said councillor Sem Moeme, mayoral adviser for private renting and housing affordability.
‘But while this is an extreme example of criminal behaviour, it’s also a symptom of the wider housing shortage and a poorly regulated private rented sector that encourages landlords to let out poor quality homes at often extortionate rents.
‘Our crackdown shows that we’ll take whatever action we can to tackle those who don’t play by the rules – while we continue our campaign for better renting and a fairer system for tenants, starting with a ban on unfair evictions and measures to ensure genuinely affordable rent levels’.