Sheffield landlord facing jail

COURT: Court Case
COURT: Court Case
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A rogue landlord faces jail for bombarding a tenant with text messages after she complained about the state of his house.

Nilendu Das has been warned he could go to prison for subjecting Jennifer Okojie to demands for cash on an almost daily basis.

She contacted authorities after moving into a house in Neill Road, Hunter’s Bar, which had mould growing on walls, a broken back door, no insulation and no handrails on the stairs, a court heard.

Das, aged 45, forced five people, the majority of whom were on housing benefit, to live in squalor while he pocketed taxpayers’ cash for their rent.

The tenants were frightened to complain after he wrote a clause into their contract saying they would be charged £350 if they did so.

Sheffield Council launched an investigation after he repeatedly ignored orders to bring houses he let up to a safe standard.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of failure to comply with improvement notices at Sheffield Magistrates Court and asked for seven similar offences, regarding another property in Sackville Road, to be taken into consideration.

Das, of Carter Knowle Avenue, Carter Knowle, also admitted interfering with the peace and comfort of Miss Okojie, 25.

He is already serving a suspended sentence for a similar offence where he changed the locks on a tenant who complained his flat in Cemetery Road, Sharrow, was squalid and unsafe.

Reliving her ordeal Miss Okojie, who has since moved, said: “The house was in such a state, it was disgusting. Every time it rained it would leak through into my room.

“He kept saying he’d sort things but he never did.

“It was the sheer volume of the messages he was sending me. It got malicious and it started affecting my health. I asked him not to contact my mobile and to email or write instead but he carried on.

“People living there were on housing benefit and frightened to complain but I knew he couldn’t make us pay £350 for complaining.

“I had to exercise my rights as a tenant and I just couldn’t live there any more. I didn’t want the council to be paying this man money.”

Messages to Miss Okojie, which read ‘give me my money’ and ‘when am I going to get my money?’ were handed to the court.

Paul Barber, prosecuting, said: “He should have tried to get any unpaid rent through the correct channel and served proper notices.”

Coun Harry Harpham, cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods at Sheffield Council said: “We will not tolerate this kind of activity and are committed to making sure that private renting offers a safe and desirable form of housing.

“This includes making sure that there are high standards and responsible management.

“The details of this case are disgusting. Nobody should be treated the way the victim was.

“The only saving grace is that we have managed to take this rogue landlord to task.

The case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.