The managing director of a letting agency and the Landlord of a two-bedroom flat where an unbelievable 32 people were found to be living have been fined, along with the agency itself.

Altogether they have been ordered to pay a remarkably low £30,000. However, as this was a criminal prosecution in court rather than civil financial penalties it is normal for the fines to be lower because the offenders have now all gained criminal records.

Said Phil Turtle, compliance consultant at landlord licensing and defence, “Many decent landlords would be surprised these people didn’t get a custodial sentence. It is precisely because of this type of stupidity by dishonest landlords and agents, that decent landlords are unfortunately all being branded as Rogue Landlords by councils and the press.”

Environmental health officers from Tower Hamlets council in London raided the flat in Whitechapel after a tip-off that it was being used as an illegal and dangerously overcrowded house in multiple occupation.

In addition to the flat containing 33 people, who spoke little to no English, the officers discovered another containing nine people, including two ten-year-old children.

The freeholder, Maqbool Khan, pleaded guilty to numerous housing breaches and was sentenced at Thames Magistrates Court.

Mohammed Abul Miah, director of managing agent A.R.S Properties, did not attend court but the case was proven against him in his absence.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “The conditions that these tenants were living in were totally unacceptable.

“Too often we see the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society being taken advantage of by rogue landlords and it is right that the courts have sent a strong message that this will not be tolerated.

“The victims were people who had come to London from overseas in the hope of a better future, only to find themselves in overcrowded and unsafe housing.”

The council understands that the property was being used to house people on a nightly basis with occupants handing over cash for a bed space.

They were found sleeping in bunk beds and on mattresses strewn across the floor. Officers found an infestation of cockroaches and defective drainage.

The flats were not only unclean and significantly overcrowded, but they also failed to meet basic fire safety standards, leaving those asleep at risk of being unable to escape in the event of an emergency.

The council team was accompanied on the raid by the police and officers from other partner agencies.

Five people were arrested for immigration offences and others were referred for onward assistance.

The penalties issued against the defendants in this case were as follows:

Maqbool Khan (Landlord):
Fine – £22,500
Costs – £1,701.73

A.R.S Properties:
Fine – £1,650 (plus victim surcharge)
Costs – £1,701.73
Sums to be paid within 28 days

Mohammed Abul Miah (director of agents ARS Properties):
Fine – £1,650 (plus victim surcharge)
Costs – £1,701.73
Sums to be paid within 28 days – collection order made