In a story that sounds as if it should be entered into our Terrible Tenant Tales competition, two rogue renters in Kingsbury have been given heavy fines for obstructing a Brent Council housing enforcement officer and holding him against his will.
Willesden Magistrates’ Court was told that Riken and Raj Patel became highly aggressive towards the officer while he was helping to resolve a dispute between the tenants and their landlord at the rental property on Brampton Avenue, NW9.
Although the property was legally rented to Riken Patel, his wife and two children, the tenant then secretly allowed Raj Patel and six other individuals to stay in the house, without the landlord’s permission – something that was expressly forbidden in the tenancy agreement.
Patel then became hostile towards the landlord when she discovered that the house had 11 people living in it and was dangerously overcrowded.
The tenant contacted Brent Council to falsely claim that the landlord had deliberately allowed the property to fall into disrepair. In reality, only the boiler and one window frame needed fixing – something that the landlord was aware of and had tried to fix, but had been turned away by Patel.
To mediate the situation, a Brent housing officer went to the property with the landlord and a gas engineer to install a new boiler. The officer questioned the ten people living in the property about the legitimacy of the tenancy, which caused the tenants to become aggressive. Raj Patel and Riken Patel’s wife then prevented the officer from leaving for 40 minutes. He was only able to leave when police escorted him out of the property following a 999 call.
Both Riken and Raj Patel were convicted of obstruction. Riken Patel was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,318 – a total of £3,318. Raj Patel, who did not attend the sentencing, was fined £2,500.
Councillor Harbi Farah, Brent Council’s Lead Member for Housing, comments on the rogue renters: “This truly shocking case is a reminder of the risk that our officers are exposed to each day as they go about their vital work. Our officer was simply trying to help this innocent landlady get access to her property to make necessary repairs, which the tenants themselves had demanded. It was such a traumatic episode that the officer broke down in court while giving evidence.
“You might think that housing enforcement officers only go after rogue landlords, but this shows that unruly, aggressive tenants can be a problem too. The vast majority of our landlords are decent, law-abiding citizens who work cooperatively with their tenants.”
Farah adds: “Our staff have the right to carry out their duties without fear of attack or abuse. We will always press for the strongest possible penalties against those who attack, threaten or abuse them.”
The rogue renters, who have not paid their rent for the last five months, are currently in the process of being evicted.
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