Barking flat seized from Harold Hill rogue landlord renting three bedroom property to four households
PUBLISHED: 10:46 22 January 2019
A rogue landlord renting out ‘one of the worst properties’ and owing £62,000 has had his flat seized.
John Abraka, of Harold Hill, had four different households living in the three-bedroomed apartment in Colne House, Harts Lane, Barking which he bought under right to buy.
This included parents living in one room with a young child.
The 49-year-old flouted the rules by not declaring it as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) also failing to pay £11,000 in council tax and owing £62,000 in unpaid service charges.
Cllr Margaret Mullane, Barking and Dagenham Council’s Cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: “This illegal HMO was one of the worst properties our officers inspected and Abraka made no attempts to comply with our enforcement action.
“We have now successfully regained the property lease from him which means he will no longer be able to harm vulnerable tenants at this property.”
The council first ordered Abraka to turn the flat back into a single-family dwelling in 2016 serving a planning enforcement notice on him.
He pleaded guilty to planning and licensing breaches in February 2017 at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court but then changed his plea requiring a new trial date to be made.
After the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy where 71 people died the council started carrying out urgent inspections of every leasehold property in its high rise buildings to check landlords weren’t putting tenants at risk.
It was during a check at Colne House that they discovered Abraka had not only ignored the council’s 2016 order to turn the flat back into a single-family dwelling and but also the pending Crown Court case.
Inspectors found the flat was without proper fire doors and smoke alarms.
The council succeeded in getting Abraka declared bankrupt last April. The Department for Work and Pensions also took him to court for benefit fraud.
His mortgage company has seized possession of the flat after he failed to make repayments and agreed to repay the service charge debts.
Cllr Mullane said: “We have zero tolerance for rogue landlords in Barking and Dagenham and this case shows that we will do everything within our powers to detect and punish those who put profits ahead of people.”