06 Oct 2020
A landlord has failed to overturn a ban from renting out properties after repeatedly putting tenants’ lives at risk by letting unsafe housing.
Balazs Stalter was prosecuted earlier this year by Wandsworth Council’s housing team following complaints received from people who had been renting accommodation from him.
The rogue operator rented large properties himself and then unlawfully converted them into cramped bedsits.
Among the properties he rented was a house in Longmead Road, Tooting, which he sub-let to five tenants after switching the living room and dining room into bedrooms, with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities.
He did so without planning permission nor registering the property as an HMO, which meant that the accommodation did not comply with fire safety rules and appropriate living standards.
An investigation found that Stalter reacted negatively when his tenants complained to the council about the appalling conditions by, among other things, tampering with their water, gas and electricity supplies and even gluing up their locks.
He even went as far as posting fake and negative online reviews of the company owned by the family of one of his tenants, which eventually led to him receiving a formal police warning.
Stalter, who also forged at least one tenancy agreement, was fined £1,858 and ordered to pay the council’s prosecution costs of £2,089 plus a victim surcharge of £170. The council also successfully applied for a banning order preventing him from operating as a landlord. If he breaches this order it is a criminal offence carrying a minimum term of three months imprisonment.
This week at Kingston Crown Court Stalter appealed against the fines imposed by the magistrates and the banning order. But his appeal was dismissed and he was ordered to pay a further £3,818 in costs.
Cllr Kim Caddy, cabinet member for housing at Wandsworth Council, commented: “By his own disgraceful and unacceptable behaviour Mr Stalter has shown he is an unfit person to be a landlord.
“I’m delighted we’ve been able to take concerted action in the courts to not only secure justice for his tenants but to prevent him victimising any others in the future.”