A tenant pretending to be a landlord has been ordered to pay more than £21,000 after he carved up five family homes he rented into unsafe bedsits – putting the lives of at least 40 vulnerable residents at risk.
Andrius Cikanavicius had converted the properties into Houses in Multiple Occupation without a licence or permission from the landlord or managing agent.
Horrified Redbridge Council enforcement officers found rooms that could not be opened from the inside without keys – delaying or preventing an escape in the event of a fire.
Other serious breaches of fire safety regulations included a lack of interlinked smoke alarms. Properties did not have fire doors, fire blankets or fire-resistant plasterboard fitted on the underside of the staircase.
The houses were overcrowded and without adequate shared facilities.
Cikanavicius, from Dagenham, was issued with fines totalling £14,600 – including £13,300 for fire safety breaches – after appearing before Barkingside Magistrates’ Court on June 21 when the council prosecuted him over his failure to comply with licensing conditions.
He was also ordered to pay £7,000 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.
Cabinet member for housing and homelessness Cllr Farah Hussain said: “It’s appalling that Mr Cikanavicius would put vulnerable people at risk of death, simply for his own profit.
“This case has exposed a serious abuse of licensing regulations and a man who thought he could charge people hundreds of pounds a month to live in a death trap.
“We are serious and determined about improving standards in the private rented sector and we will continue to knock on the door of all suspected HMOs and unlicensed properties to root out rogue operators and ensure they feel the full force of the law.”
Last week the council announced it had used its powers under housing and planning law to issue 150 fines against illegal operators as an alternative to prosecution.