Nilendu Das, of Carter Knowle Avenue, already had a track record of housing offences when he appeared at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court this week accused of putting tenants at serious harm from fire and exposing them to substandard and dangerous conditions in their homes.
He was ordered to pay over £7,000 in court costs and fines for a list of housing offences as well as health and safety offences at his restaurant, the Varanasi Inn on Sandygate Road, Sheffield.
Das, who has previous convictions for tenant harassment, failure to comply with improvement notices and poor management of Houses in Multiple Occupation, which resulted in prison sentences, as well as previous health and safety convictions, pleaded guilty to six further offences after inspections at three of his properties revealed management failings and breaches of the Housing Act.
He also failed to ensure the safety of gas appliances and contravened an improvement notice which required a gas safety certificate for his restaurant.
In addition to the fines and costs, Das was sentenced to a 12 month Community Order with a requirement that he completes 150 hours of unpaid work.
Between December 2018 and March 2020, housing officers investigating complaints about Mr Das’ properties on Sackville Road, Neill Road and Cemetery Avenue uncovered conditions they said related to ‘gross neglect of the properties and hazards caused by disrepair’.
Concerns consisted of inadequate fire detection and heating systems, damaged fire doors, serious damp, unsafe electrics including bypassed electricity meters and rat infestations, which they said left occupants ‘vulnerable to serious risk of harm from fire and infection’.
One property was in such a poor state of repair that a prohibition order was served, declaring it unfit to live in.
When officers returned the following month, they discovered tenants had been allowed to continue living there and that the necessary work had not been completed.
Councillor Paul Wood, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, said: “Mr Das shows a blatant disregard for the law and in doing so, puts the lives of his tenants at risk.
“He often attracts tenants who don’t tend to complain even though they are living in very poor housing conditions.
“We have given him very reasonable timescales to complete work but these have been ignored, leaving us no other choice than to pursue action through the courts.
“I hope the prosecution serves as a stark warning to landlords that the safety of our tenants remains a priority.
“Where landlords put the welfare and safety of tenants at risk and wilfully disregard their obligations under the law, we take action.
“We absolutely take a zero tolerance approach to anything that risks a life and landlords who have a complete disregard to the safety of their tenants who are at risk of loss of life.
“While the majority of landlords in the city are responsible, we are committed to investigating substandard conditions and bringing landlords who profit illegally from their actions to justice. I encourage tenants to report issues and concerns immediately so that we can investigate.”