Shahzad Mehmood, the landlord of a ‘Bed in Shed’ who is very aware that his property is unsafe for habitation still allowed tenants to live in it. Following a prosecution brought by the Swindon Borough Council, Shahzad Mehmood admitted on breaching two Prohibition Orders relating to properties. Thus he was fined £7,000.
Properties unsafe for habitation or those that are illegal accommodations are called ‘Bed in Shed’. Swindon Borough Council Environmental Health Officer, Rebecca Martin said that ’Beds in sheds’ are increasingly becoming a problem not just locally but also nationally.
‘Bed in shed’ landlord fined £7,000
A LANDLORD who allowed tenants to live in two ‘bed in shed’ properties in Swindon despite the accommodation being assessed as unsafe for habitation has been fined £7,000.
Shahzad Mehmood, 41, admitted at Swindon Magistrates’ Court to breaching two Prohibition Orders relating to properties in Manchester Road following a prosecution brought by Swindon Borough Council.
The court heard how an Environmental Health officer visited 92 Manchester Road on November 19 last year following a complaint to discover tenants living in accommodation separate to the main property.
A visit four days later unearthed similar accommodation to the rear of 91 Manchester Road.
Both dwellings were found to have hazards under the Housing Act 2004 for space and crowding, excess cold and fire safety.
Prohibition Orders – formal notices which ban a property from being occupied because the building conditions are so serious that they pose a serious safety risk to occupants – were served for both properties.
The orders prohibited their use for sleeping or living until work was done to address.
The accommodation was deemed to be overcrowded with inadequate sized bedrooms and lack of space for belongings and normal household activity as well as being excessively cold because of lack of wall and ceiling insulation and inadequate heating
Hazards identified at the 91 Manchester Road accommodation included mould growth because of condensation; no fixed lighting and no smoke or heat detectors.
A further inspection on March 1 found that part of the bathroom ceiling was missing and the only source of heating in the accommodation, an oil-filled heater, was stored close to a bed because of a lack of space, causing a fire hazard.
Mehmood had been given a four-week extension to comply with the Prohibition Orders, but only did so on 9 May this year, 13 weeks late.
A ‘bed in a shed’ is a general term for illegal accommodation, which can range from informal structures lacking normal facilities to well-built dwellings and usually provide small rooms for several people who have to share basic amenities.
Rebecca Martin, a Swindon Borough Council Environmental Health Officer, said: “The tenants in this case were exposed to significant risks to their health, safety and welfare over a prolonged period of time.
“’Beds in sheds’ as they are known are increasingly becoming a problem locally and nationally and it appears that landlords feel they can get away with providing sub-standard accommodation.
“The message that I want to get across as a result of this successful prosecution is that they cannot and it is obvious from the size of the fine imposed in this case that the courts take such matters extremely seriously.”
Councillor Oliver Donachie, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, said: “Landlords have a duty to ensure properties they rent are proper and safe for habitation – clearly this was not the case here and I hope that the significant fine handed to Mr Mehmood will act as a deterrent to others.
“It is clearly highly irresponsible to allow tenants to reside in such dangerous conditions and as this prosecution shows, Swindon Borough Council will act decisively if such cases come to light.”
Mehmood, of Meadowcroft, Swindon, was fined £3,500 for each of the Prohibition Order breaches, to be paid within 28 days. He was also ordered to pay costs of £2,803.50.