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Prolific HMO landlord put children at risk of fire

A ‘prolific’ landlord who endangered the lives of children by placing them at fire risk has been fined £23,000 with costs of £2,890.

Mehmet Parlak, the owner of Watchacre Properties Ltd which let Markfield Lodge on Markfield Road, London N15, pleaded guilty at Highgate Magistrates Court to management failures and not licensing his properties.

The court heard that a Haringey Council environmental health officer inspected Markfield Lodge in August and found 78 items of disrepair ranging from fire safety failures, security issues, damp and mould, filthy conditions, broken windows and lights not working.

Conditions were so poor that they severely compromised the safety and comfort of tenants.

No licence application had been received for this HMO despite many reminders. The property was also overcrowded and housed many children.

The officer also requested a licence application for 688-690 High Road, Tottenham N17, and again, after many requests, no application was received.

Councillor Nilgun Canver, cabinet member for the environment, said after the case: “Haringey Council is determined to clamp down on landlords who put profit above their tenants’ safety.

“Mr Parlak is associated with many properties which are used as HMOs and has been involved with this business for many years.

“There was no excuse for not licensing or for allowing properties to degenerate into such squalid conditions.

“The regulations exist to make sure that tenants who are not in a position to pick and choose where they live are protected from rogue landlords like this. A small fire in a property managed like this could lead to the utmost tragedy. I applaud the courts for taking this matter so seriously.”

The council said that the fines in this case were high ‘due to previous convictions being taken into consideration’.

Harringey Council added that licence applications have now been received from Parlak and conditions will be attached to prevent overcrowding. It warns that if there is any breach, the authority will not hesitate to prosecute again.

In October 2008, a London landlord called Mehmet Parlak was sentenced to four months imprisonment and his company, Watchacre, was fined £21,000 after pleading guilty to eight offences under the Fire Safety Order 2005. This followed a fatal fire in 2007 in a flat in Tottenham.

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