Fined: Rogue landlord who admits dishing out 'sham' licences to Tower Hill renters
PUBLISHED: 18:23 08 November 2019 | UPDATED: 18:23 08 November 2019
A rogue landlord has been fined a record £22,000 for passing off "sham licences" to renters just a stone's throw from the Tower of London.
Pedro Tenajas carried out aggressive tactics against tenants renting rooms at his property near Tower Hill.
He broke the lock of a woman's room, Thames magistrates heard, and entered other homes without permission at the property in Cartwright Street, off Royal Mint Street.
Tenajas and his company were summonsed after Tower Hamlets trading standards office received a string of complaints from the renters.
He faced 11 charges of "misleading tenants" about their rights under Consumer Protection regulations.
"This is another great result for the council," trading standards chief Ann Sutcliffe said. "Our Private Renters' Charter clearly sets out standards that we expect from landlords and agents."
Tenajas used various company names, including My London Dream, as the advertising portal to attract renters on the Spare Room website.
But trading standards traced the rent payments to another company called London Corporate Relocation.
He used "licence to occupy" agreements rather than Assured Shorthold tenancies, a tactic that restricted tenants' rights.
The 36-year-old from Covent Garden pleaded guilty on October 29 to all 11 charges and was fined £1,250 for each offence, plus £8,500 legal costs, adding up his penalty to £22,000.
The Renters' Charter was set up by the council in 2017 after a three-year campaign by private tenants demanding "the right to live in a safe and secure home and be treated fairly".
It protects against discrimination, while demanding no rent rise during fixed tenancy period.
Renters up till then had lacked protection that most council and housing association tenants had, often facing eviction on a landlord's whim without notice.
The charter is endorsed by the Property Ombudsman Service because it would help "take out rogue landlords" when backed up with enforcement action.
It also has support from advice agencies and tenant groups such as Citizens Advice bureaux, Tower Hamlets Federation of Tenants & Residents Associations, Renters' Rights London, Tower Hamlets law centre, Praxis community projects, Queen Mary University, Bromley-by-Bow centre, Generation Rent and Shelter homeless charity.