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Sheffield landlord prosecuted again for appalling conditions

Part of a kitchen with damaged walls and poor conditions
Disrepair and neglect at one of Mr Das' properties

A Sheffield landlord with a track record of housing offences, has been fined for putting tenants at serious harm from fire and exposing them to substandard and dangerous conditions in their homes.

Nilendu Das, of Carter Knowle Avenue was convicted at Sheffield’s Magistrate Court yesterday and ordered to pay over £7,000 in court costs and fines for various housing offences as well as health and safety offences at his restaurant, the Varanasi Inn on Sandygate Road, Sheffield.

Mr Das, who has previous convictions for tenant harassment, failure to comply with improvement notices and poor management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), resulting in prison sentences, as well as previous health & safety convictions, pleaded guilty to 6 further offences after inspections at three of his properties revealed management failings and breaches of the Housing Act 2004.

He also failed to ensure the safety of gas appliances and contravened an improvement notice which required a gas safety certificate for his restaurant and was sentenced to a 12 month Community Order with a requirement that he completes 150 hours unpaid work. He was ordered to pay a contribution to costs of £1600 and a victim surcharge of £181.

Gross neglect and disrepair of properties

During the period December 2018 to March 2020, Private Housing Standards Officers investigating complaints about Mr Das’ properties on Sackville Road, Neill Road and Cemetery Avenue, uncovered conditions relating to gross neglect of the properties and hazards caused by disrepair. Concerns consisted of inadequate fire detection and heating, damaged fire doors, serious damp, unsafe electrics including bypassed electricity meters and rat infestations leaving occupants vulnerable to serious risk of harm from fire and infection.

One property was in such a poor state of repair that a prohibition order was served, declaring it unfit to live in. When officers returned the following month, they discovered tenants had been allowed to continue living there and that the necessary work had not been completed, which constituted a breach of the prohibition order and a further offence.

All 3 properties occupied as HMOs were found to have serious breaches of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.

Councillor Paul Wood, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety said: “Mr Das shows a blatant disregard for the law and in doing so, puts the lives of his tenants at risk. He often attracts tenants who don’t tend to complain even though they are living in very poor housing conditions. We have given him very reasonable timescales to complete work but these have been ignored, leaving us no other choice than to pursue action through the courts.

“I hope the prosecution serves as a stark warning to landlords that the safety of our tenants remains a priority. Where landlords put the welfare and safety of tenants at risk and wilfully disregard their obligations under the law, we take action. We absolutely take a zero tolerance approach to anything that risks a life and landlords who have a complete disregard to the safety of their tenants who are at risk of loss of life.

"While the majority of landlords in the city are responsible, we are committed to investigating substandard conditions and bringing landlords who profit illegally from their actions to justice. I encourage tenants to report issues and concerns immediately so that we can investigate.

The Private Housing Standards team investigate more than 400 disrepair complaints a year whilst regulating HMO standards to more than 2,000 properties in the city. Where serious or persistent breaches are identified landlords are prosecuted, but can also be fined up to £30,000 for certain offences.

Landlords have a responsibility in law and to their tenants to comply with the housing regulations and we encourage all landlords to be aware of these standards.  The management of houses in multiple occupation are subject to very specific regulations which place clear responsibilities on those managing these types of properties. Information about housing standards in HMOs can be found at www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/housing/houses-in-multiple-occupation.

How to report disrepair in private rented properties

Issues about disrepair in private rented properties can be reported to Private Housing Standards on 0114 273 4680 or by email at phs@sheffield.gov.uk.