Indian-Origin Family on Trial in London for Cramming 25-40 Tenants in One House
The family is accused of housing as many as five people in a room for rent between £40 and £75 a week.
A UK court has found an Indian-origin family guilty of illegally housing over 40 immigrants as tenants in their four-bedroom house in north London. The Harrows Crown Court was told that Harsha Shah, 53, her brother-in-law Sanjay, 54, and her daughter Chandni worked with agent Jaydipkumar Valand and crammed as many as five people in a room for rent between £40 and £75 a week, PTI reported.
This went on for five years, with all the immigrants housed hailing from India. The authorities are yet to ascertain if they came into United Kingdom legally. The court was also told that the 1920 house had been left in a state of disrepair by the family, with ceilings having holes and the kitchen being so unusable that food had to be delivered to the house. The property was divided into seven bedrooms on the ground floor and two on first floor.
The occupants had just two bathrooms to share among them. The tenants were also found living in bunk beds in the garden shed. The fire exits were all blocked. Though the family and the agent were convicted in May last year, they are appealing against having to pay nearly £360,000 obtained as rent during the five-year period. The court was told the family had license to rent out the property to one family.
Edmund Robb, who was appearing on behalf of the local Brent Borough Council, told Judge Stephen Rubin that apart from claiming any housing benefits paid out by the authority, the rent can also be seized under the UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act. The Brent Council is yet to make a decision on the exact amount they wish to obtain from the defendants, The Independent quoted Robb as saying.
“Receiving rent was in breach of a selective license. If they had complied with the regulations, the money would not have come into their hands. There was a minimum of 25 people living in the house and there could at any one time be up to 40 people living in the house,” he said, adding that the UK Border Police, which raided the property, called it the worst example of overcrowding they had seen.
The defense counsel argued that taking rent from the migrants was not an offence, which means a confiscation order was not enforceable.
“We say that receiving the rent is not a criminal offence and neither is continuing the tenancy. They are clearly in breach of the law, but the receiving of rent was not illegal,” defense lawyer Cameron Scott said.
Judge Rubin has so far reserved his judgement on whether a proceeds of crime order can be enforced.