A rogue landlord charged tenants to live in a dangerously converted car garage without windows or running water in “one of the most atrocious” cases seen.
Mehmet Gurcuoglu allowed the vulnerable tenants to stay in appalling conditions with no natural light, proper washing facilities or fire safety precautions.
The illegal premises had tyres stored up to the ceiling and blocked escape routes, putting the lives of the residents at grave risk in an emergency, a court heard.
The dilapidated outbuilding in Hackney Downs, east London, was at the railway arch car wash and tyre workshop to house private renters, providing bedrooms with dangerous electrics, no natural light and a kitchen without hot water.
As well as being flammable, the tyres would have filled the escape route with toxic gases if they had caught fire, safety experts said.
One battery-operated smoke alarm was covered up with plastic sheeting, meaning that the tenants would not be alerted to a fire.
Council officers and police raided the property in 2019, forcing the landlord to remove the tenants from the dangerous building before taking legal action.
Gurcuoglu, director of Golden Motors in Andre Street, admitted operating a privately rented HMO (house in multiple occupation) property without a licence and to five breaches of management regulations at court last month.
At Thames Magistrates Court last Friday he was handed a £8,992 court fine.
Cllr Sem Moema, mayoral adviser for private renting and housing affordability, described it as “one of the most atrocious cases” officers had seen in the borough.
She said: “This is one of the most atrocious cases of mistreatment of private tenants we have seen in Hackney, with the landlord putting lives at risk by placing people in conditions that simply aren’t meant for living in.
“But while this is an extreme example of criminal behaviour, it’s also a symptom of the wider housing shortage and a poorly regulated private rented sector that encourages landlords to let out poor quality homes at often extortionate rents.
“Our crackdown shows that we’ll take whatever action we can to tackle those who don’t play by the rules – while we continue our campaign for better renting and a fairer system for tenants, starting with a ban on unfair evictions and measures to ensure genuinely affordable rent levels.”
Earlier this year rogue landlords who illegally let a Clapton property without giving proper washing facilities or tackling serious fire hazards were fined £22,000 after a Hackney Council prosecution.