£5m purge to kick out the slum land­lords

Dodgy own­ers are tar­geted by new coun­cil hit squad over squalid homes

Sunday Mail (UK) - - News - Nor­man Sil­vester

More than 20 slum land­lords face hav­ing prop­er­ties worth £5mil­lion seized in a gov­ern­ment purge – af­ter risk­ing the lives of ten­ants in squalid con­di­tions.

The shock­ing state of prop­er­ties owned by the banned ty­coons are ex­posed by the Sun­day Mail to­day.

The ma­jor­ity of those owned by land­lords in­clud­ing Akhtar Al i and Jo­har Mirza are in the Holy­rood con­stituency of First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon.

They charge des­per­ate ten­ants, many of them east­ern Euro­pean im­mi­grants, in Glas­gow’s Go­van­hill district as much as £500 a month for rooms with no hot wa­ter, dan­ger­ous wiring, poor san­i­ta­tion and faulty win­dows.

Our shock­ing pic­tures were used in ev­i­dence against the busi­ness­men.

A coun­cil hit squad have been set up with ex­tra pow­ers to tackle the prob­lem.

In the last nine months, 22 land­lords in the area have been banned from rent­ing out prop­er­ties.

The own­ers face crim­i­nal prose­cu­tion and a £50,000 fine if they at­tempt to act as land­lords in the fu­ture.

Now they will be forced to off­load the prop­er­ties un­der com­pul­sory pur­chase laws if they do not agree to sell to Glas­gow City Coun­cil.

Chiefs have set aside £48mil­lion to buy up to 500 prop­er­ties from slum land­lords and bring the stock un­der pub­lic own­er­ship.

The lo­cal author­ity are the first in the coun­try to use new Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment laws to set up an En­hanced En­force­ment Area (EEA) to tar­get rogues.

The team are part of the coun­cil’s hous­ing depart­ment and plan to crack down on

more land­lords in the next few weeks. They have per­mis­sion to en­ter prop­er­ties with­out the owner’s per­mis­sion.

Stur­geon said: “I wel­come the fact that as a re­sult of com­mu­nity, Gov­ern­ment and Glas­gow Coun­cil ef­forts, rogue land­lords are be­ing iden­ti­fied and ac­tion is be­ing taken to im­prove prop­er­ties in the area.

“Go­van­hill is a vi­brant com­mu­nity and work­ing along­side the new administration in Glas­gow and the lo­cal com­mu­nity, I will con­tinue to champion im­prove­ments in the area.”

Richard Brown, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for de­vel­op­ment and re­gen­er­a­tion ser­vices at Glas­gow City Coun­cil, is re­spon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing all land­lords in the city.

He said: “When­ever there is ev­i­dence that a land­lord is no longer a suit­able per­son to rent out prop­erty or they fail to man­age their prop­erty ap­pro­pri­ately, we will al­ways seek to take ac­tion.

“Go­van­hill has been an area of the city where par­tic­u­lar prob­lems with land­lords have been iden­ti­fied.

“The ad­di­tional pow­ers avail­able to us through Go­van­hill ’s En­hanced En­force­ment Area are help­ing us to im­prove stan­dards.”

Ali, 49, who lives in a £250,000 semi in Glas­gow’s Pol­lok­shields, was banned ear­lier this year af­ter a fire at one of his flats in nearby Gle­napp Street.

Two peo­ple needed hos­pi­tal treat­ment and a sub­se­quent in­spec­tion of his seven prop­er­ties in Go­van­hill re­vealed a shock­ing cat­a­logue of fail­ings.

Of­fi­cials dis­cov­ered that the gas and elec­tric­ity me­ters had been by­passed and the flats had no smoke or car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors. One of Ali’s prop­er­ties in Gar­turk Street also had no hot wa­ter. His prop­erty port­fo­lio has a value of more than £750,000.

When con­fronted by the Sun­day Mail, Ali said he was ap­peal­ing the de­ci­sion to strike him off.

He has been al­lowed to keep let­ting prop­er­ties un­til his ap­peal is heard.

So far, one rogue land­lord, Mirza, 36, from Thorn­liebank, Glas­gow, has had prop­erty seized, with more to fol­low.

Glas­gow City Coun­cil bought one of his Go­vanhi l l f lats af ter it was re­pos­sessed by his len­der when he de­faulted on mort­gage pay­ments. Mirza was re­moved from the Land­lord Regis­ter af­ter it was dis­cov­ered he was a con­victed sex of­fender. He has also been on the FBI’s most wanted list for al­leged fraud in the US.

A coun­cil probe found that he ran five sub­stan­dard flats in the city – worth more than £ 400,000 – which were closed down be­cause they were in such a poor con­di­tion.

One flat in Allison Street was shut be­cause heat­ing, pro­vi­sion of hot wa­ter, drainage, electrics and cook­ing fa­cil­i­ties were all sub­stan­dard.

The crack­down us­ing the new EEA pow­ers has so far been lim­ited to four hous­ing blocks in Go­van­hill un­der the Hous­ing (Scot­land) Act 2014. How­ever, in­ves­ti­ga­tors’ remit has been ex­tended to 14 blocks in the area.

Shock­ing images from in­side prop­er­ties re­veal the hazardous con­di­tions in which rogue land­lords ex pect thei r des­per­ate ten­ants to live.

Pho­to­graphs pro­vided by EEA in­ves­ti­ga­tors show dan­ger­ous elec­tri­cal wiring run­ning through­out the flats.

A high num­ber of im­mi­grants from east­ern Europe, in­clud­ing Roma fam­i­lies from Slo­vakia, have set­tled in Go­van­hill.

The coun­cil plan to buy up slum prop­er­ties through the Go­van­hill Ac­qui­si­tion and Re­pairs Pro­gramme.

They will be man­aged on a day-to-day ba­sis by Go­van­hill Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion.

De­vel­op­ment and re­gen­er­a­tion man­ager at Go­vanhi l l Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion Ken MacDougall said: “We’ve cam­paigned long and hard to en­sure there is more reg­u­la­tion of the pri­vate rental sec­tor.”

Four men, Muhammed An­war, Graham Mills, Jamil Ahmed and Mirza were all banned or re­moved from the regis­ter af­ter it was dis­cov­ered they were sex of­fend­ers.

An­war, who rented out three flats worth about £ 350,000, was found to have three con­vic­tions for sex­ual of­fences against a child and was serv­ing six years in prison. He even ap­plied for his land­lords’ li­cence while in prison.

Ahmed, from Pol­lok­shields, Glas­gow, had his ap­pli­ca­tion to be a land­lord re­fused af­ter it was dis­cov­ered he had been sen­tenced to 42 months in 2013 for hav­ing un­der age sex with two girls in Ayr­shire and abus­ing a third.

Mo­hammed Us­ram was banned af­ter his £150,000 prop­erty in Lang­side Road was found to have faulty electrics, no hot wa­ter, a bro­ken toi­let and holes in ceil­ings and the floor. Us­ram had been the sub­ject of a clo­sure or­der.

Other prop­erty own­ers banned are Lawrence Reilly, Us­man­UlHaq,AbidMah­mood, Sha zi a Ak ht a r , Abdu l ShakoorMo­hammed Ad­nan Hus­sain, Ashiq Mo­hammed and Shab­nam Sat­tar.

They were all let­ting out prop­er­ties in the Go­van­hill area with a com­bined value of about £1.5mil­lion.

Gang­ster Fran­cis “Frag­gle” Green was banned from be­ing a land­lord in 2014. He is the son of crime boss Jamie Daniel, who died of can­cer last year.

Coun­cil­lor Mhairi Hunter, of Glas­gow City Coun­cil’s Go­van­hill Task­force, said ma­jor ef­forts are be­ing made to clean up the area.

She added: “The coun­cil have the right to de­mand high stan­dards from land­lords, oth­er­wise they will ul­ti­mately be taken to task.

“The En­hanced En­force­ment Area is go­ing to be rolled out across a fur­ther 14 blocks and I fully an­tic­i­pate its ini­tial suc­cess will be re­peated.”

ROGUES’ GALLERY From left, Fran­cis Green, our re­porter speaks with Akhtar Ali and Jo­har Mirza

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