Camden Council is reported to have obtained London’s first rogue landlord banning order against a man who repeatedly placed tenants’ lives at risk through letting unsafe housing.
On 8 November 2019 the First-tier Tribunal banned Cesar De Sousa Melo, 45, of Mora Street, EC1, for four years from letting any housing in England and engaging in English letting agency work or property management work.
The ban takes effect from 8 March 2020.
If the banning order is breached, penalties can include imprisonment for up to 51 weeks or a court fine - or both - or a civil financial penalty of up to £30,000.
Camden said Melo was brought to its attention following a rogue landlord referral received in May 2018 via the Greater London Authority and Mayor of London website.
“Investigations then uncovered he was involved in the letting of several unlicensed houses in multiple occupation,” the local authority said.
A raid on a flat in Goldington Crescent, King’s Cross in June 2018 found three bedrooms with bunk beds in some rooms, fire safety issues and general disrepair, for which Melo received two civil penalty notices with fines totalling £15,000.
The council said: “Tenants’ health and safety at Goldington Crescent was placed at risk through non-working fire alarms, a kitchen door broken off its hinges and the property being overcrowded as the kitchen was too small.
“It was also further overcrowded with four bunk bed spaces in one room and three beds plus two bunk bed spaces in another two rooms, packed in to ensure maximum commercial advantage.”
In August 2018, warrants of entry were obtained and inspections carried out on a flat on Stanhope Street, Euston and on a flat on Gray’s Inn Road, Kings Cross, after previous attempts to gain access had failed.
Camden said these inspections found further multiple breaches of the Housing Act 2004.
Melo was convicted at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on 4 April 2019 of seven ‘banning order offences’, committed on 14 September 2018 at the Stanhope Street and Gray’s Inn Road flats. He was fined £14,000.
According to the council, Melo had issued some tenants with tenancy agreements in which he stated he was the landlord, although he was in fact sub-letting from the real owners. “His operation at all the flats has now ceased and the flats have been made safe,” it said.