Tenant who pretended to be landlord carved up five houses into illegal homes

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.

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3 Comments

  1. jeremy1960

    These stories are becoming increasingly regular, here on eye and in other publications.

    Yes this chap and others are wrong and yes the councils which prosecute are right but what this clearly shows is that there is a market for these properties rightly or wrongly. What are the councils doing about the people who are living in such conditions? Are the council rehousing?  Are shelter doing anything other than patting themselves on the back as each landlord is prosecuted before heading back into their comfy offices, are they rehousing the tenants?

    There’s a housing crisis out there where people,  often vulnerable,  are being let down by the very organisations that they would expect to help them such as councils,  housing charities, government.  Surely the answer is for all these organisations to recognise the problem and encourage the landlords rather than constantly piling on more legislation? If there are tenants willing to live in dangerous squalor then make sure that those tenants are given the opportunity to live in a correctly run environment.

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    1. I want to believe

      Unfortunately the government are too short sighted to see what everyone else thinks is pretty obvious.
      I have a client that runs a wealth management business in Marbella and has never been as busy with British landlords already looking to take their money out of the country, and the changes have barely taken place yet.
      He openly says that he is hoping that the government go ahead with their ridiculous plans to change section 21 and is already staffing up for it.  

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  2. DASH94

    So he’s paid fines to the council and £7000 + £120.

    How much is it going to cost the owners of the houses to return them to their original state?    More than £7120 I bet

     

    Pretty lax landlord/agent who didn’t inspect these properties and see this happening.

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