Trading standards officers crack down on 'sham licences' as rogue landlord fined £22,000

A rogue landlord has been fined £22,000 for dishing out ‘sham licences’ to tenants in Tower Hamlets following an investigation by the council’s trading standards team.

Pedro Reis Tenajas, 36, of Covent Garden, and his company were charged with offences under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for misleading tenants as to their statutory rights. 

An investigation by the council was launched following complaints made about aggressive practices, including breaking the lock of a female tenant’s room and entering other rooms without prior permission.

Ann Sutcliffe, Corporate Director, Place Directorate, said: “This is another great result for our trading standards team. We know that private renting can be a difficult experience and we are committed to investigating landlords who are not giving their tenants a fair deal.

“The team’s work is backed up by the Tower Hamlets Private Renters’ Charter, which clearly sets out the standards that we expect from landlords and agents working in our borough.”

The investigation in this case was complex, with the defendant using various addresses and virtual offices to disguise his identity. This included using a company named My London Dream as the advertising portal to attract clients on the SpareRoom.co.uk website. However, by ‘following the money’, trading standards officers were able to prove tenants’ rental payments had been made to a company called London Corporate Relocation Ltd.

At the hearing at Thames Magistrates’ Court on 29 October 2019, Tenajas pleaded guilty to a total of 11 charges. Magistrates issued fines of £1,250 for each offence and ordered Tenajas to pay a contribution towards prosecution costs of £8,500 – making a total financial penalty of more than £22,000.

The court heard that Tenajas and his company used ‘licence to occupy’ agreements rather than assured shorthold tenancies, a tactic that restricted the rights of tenants.

This case is believed to be only the second successful one of its kind in London.

More information on the Tower Hamlets Private Renters’ Charter is available online.

Posted on Friday 8th November 2019