Date Published 08 June 2012
A letting agent and a struck-off solicitor have been successfully prosecuted over an HMO where 12 people lived in slum conditions.
Camden Council took action against Aminat Adedoyin Afolabi, who represented the owner of the property, and Raphael Fagbolagun, of Baganton Property Services, who had been appointed to manage it.
The pair were found guilty of failing to obtain a licence for a House in Multiple Occupation, management offences and failing to supply documents previously requested by the court.
They managed a property for a Mr Alade, who lived in Nigeria. They claimed the property was empty, but when environmental health officers visited on various days in March 2011, they found a basement flat let to three tenants, and three upper floors converted into eight bedsits let to nine tenants.
The officers found a pool of sewage soaking the brickwork to the basement bedroom, the fire escape route blocked, the fire alarm silenced, fire doors missing or ineffective, plus electrical faults, missing banisters to the internal staircase and steps down to the rear garden dangerous and broken.
During investigations, it was found that Afolabi had been convicted of fraud and related offences, and had been investigated by the Law Society for various issues including trading as a legal practice called Ann Francis and Co, prior to qualifying as a solicitor. As a result she had been struck off by the Law Society. She was subsequently allowed to practise under strict controls before being struck off again in 2012.
The council’s investigations showed that both defendants received rents and were held to be jointly responsible for managing the HMO without a licence.
After a two-day trial, Afolabi, a struck-off solicitor who had previously been convicted of fraud, was found guilty of all 12 offences and Fagbolagun of all 11 offences.
Both defendants, who had pleaded not guilty, claimed to be on low incomes, and the judge reduced the fines and costs to £1,415 for Fagbolagun and £765 for Afolabi.
Abdul Hai, Camden Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said after the case: `Slum landlords will not be tolerated in Camden. We will continue to use every power to ensure people don’t fall prey to landlords who have no consideration for people’s safety and are instead more concerned with lining their own pockets.`
Baganton Property Services, in Camberwell New Road, SE London, appears to handle sales, management and lettings ‘in London and every part of the UK’, according to its website, which also talks about its professionalism.