A landlord has been ordered by a court to pay more than £165,000 after his tenants were found living in unsafe and overcrowded conditions in a Grade II-listed building in Kensington.
Abbas Rasul and two companies which he was a director at were fined a total of £162,000 and told to pay costs of £3,498 after it was found the flat at 36 Hyde Park Gate lacked proper fire precautions and had a dangerous boiler.
The 64-year-old, from The Quadrangle in Cambridge Square, Paddington, was found guilty of failing to license a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and 22 further charges under HMO Management Regulations at Hammersmith Magistrates' Court.
Rasul, Grosvenor Property Investments Ltd and London Victoria Estates Ltd were charged after environmental health officers from Kensington and Chelsea Council inspected Flat 3 in November last year following a complaint from a tenant.
The court was told the property was one of three flats in the Grade II-listed building and had been poorly converted.
Officers found 18 people living in the large flat, which had been subdivided into small units using flimsy plasterboard partitions and comprised 14 rooms.
They were paying an average rent of £800 per month.
Officers found no fire doors, smoke detectors or alarms in the flat, which had one kitchen shared by all the tenants.
The gas boiler had not been serviced and it had a cracked flue which was dangerous, the court heard.
Due to the way the flat had been subdivided, some rooms had no electric light fittings in the ceiling which led to extension leads and trailing wires running through the property.
Conditions were so bad that environmental health officers issued a Prohibition Order to prevent further use of the flat.
The sentence was handed out on October 11 at a hearing Rasul had not attended and requested be adjourned.
But the court was satisfied that every effort had been made to inform all parties that if they did not attend the case would go ahead in their absence.
The court was also aware that the defendants had failed to appear for earlier hearings.
On sentencing, the magistrates said: "We have paid particular attention in our sentencing to the matters we deemed with overriding concern of potential immediate dangers, those being the fire safety hazards."
In coming to our decision we took into consideration there had been a lack of compliance over a considerable amount of time and an attempt to obstruct officers in their investigations.
"There is evidence of substantial disregard of their obligation to protect the tenants while they are living at the property."