Housing

Squalid flats smaller than parking spaces lead to massive £285,000 fine for landlord

Some of the flats cost as much as £1,250 a month

london rent, hackney flat

Some of the flats were smaller than a standard 11 square metre parking space. Image: Hackney Council

A London landlord has been fined £285,000 for renting out flats smaller than parking spaces, as pictures reveal squalid and cramped conditions inside.

Ibrahim Has crammed 13 flats into the space above the Yucatan pub in Stoke Newington, north London, one as small as nine square metres, and was charging tenants up to £1,250 a month for the privilege.

Several of the flats had two or more people living in them, with sizes ranging from 9.4 square metres to 40.3 square metres across the 13 flats.

The 13 flats had been squeezed into the space above a pub in Stoke Newington. Image: Hackney Council

For comparison, a standard UK parking space measures 2.4 metres by 4.8 metres – or 11.52 square metres. The legal minimum size is 37 square metres for a one-bed, one-person flat.

Pictures released by Hackney Council show tiny rooms with appliances within touching distance of a bed, along with cramped kitchen spaces. Other pictures show a toilet next to a washing machine, and a front door opening to touch the foot of a bed.

Renters across the country are still waiting for the government’s Renters Reform Bill. Image: Hackney Council

Guy Nicholson, Hackney’s deputy mayor, said Has exploited vulnerable tenants and the housing shortage in a borough where more than 13,000 households are waiting for social housing.

“Hackney is facing a critical housing shortage, and it’s crucial that the council does not allow people to exploit this crisis by cramming people into homes that don’t meet decent living standards,” said Nicholson.

Over 13,000 households are on the social housing waiting list in the borough. Image: Hackney Council

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The £285,000 fine handed out to Has included £261,565 of reclaimed illegal rent income. However, none of the reclaimed rent went to the tenants – a third went to the court system, a third to the Treasury, and a third to Hackney Council for the prevention of crime.

The tenants didn’t receive any of the reclaimed rent due to the nature of the case. Image: Hackney Council

Had the landlord been prosecuted for mistreating the tenants, rather than for a planning offence, the tenants would have been entitled to a share of the fine.

Councils fined London’s rogue landlords £8.6 million in rent in the first three months of 2023, for issues ranging from damp properties to unsafe flats. One landlord was fined £115,000 by Hounslow Council for renting a “squalid and dirty” illegal flat concealed in the extension of another house.

Has was refused planning permission and ignored a demand to remove the flats. Hackney Council then took him to court after carrying out a money laundering investigation.

The landlord was condemned for exploiting vulnerable tenants by Hackney’s deputy mayor. Image: Hackney Council

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The landlord has been convicted both of failing to comply with a planning notice, and under the proceeds of crime act.

Meanwhile, the wait for the Renters Reform Bill to become law continues, despite government promises of a “step change” for renters.

The bill would introduce improved standards for rented accommodation, and create a new ombudsman for tenants to complain about dodgy landlords.

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