A local landlord who owns three properties in High Wycombe and an accomplice working with her have been ordered to pay fines of £16,000 and £8,000 respectively and legal costs totalling £3,732.
The defendants were found guilty of separate offences under Housing Act 2004 relating to the provision of an invoice containing false information to Wycombe District Council.
The landlord, Ms Nahida Rehman from Windsor Drive in High Wycombe rented out a five bedroom house in Bookerhill Road to six tenants. She also owns a portfolio of two other similar properties in High Wycombe which she rents out.
She worked with an accomplice, Mr Yasser Khan of Chairborough Rd to knowingly use a forged invoice to falsely prove to the council that necessary improvement work had been done at her property.
Earlier in 2016 the council’s private housing team visited the property and told Ms Rehman and her manager that they needed to make some improvements to the property to meet with fire safety and other health and safety requirements. She was later issued with four Improvement Notices and a Prohibition Notice which were not challenged so became legally binding and enforceable.
The Notices specified a number of measures, including carrying out fireproofing and installing a fire door to comply with fire regulations and providing an additional toilet for the number of people living at the property.
Although the landlord told the council the work had been done, a follow up check by the private housing team revealed that, while the work was only partially completed, it had not been done properly and did not comply with building control regulations.
The council asked to see evidence of how the work had been carried out with respect to drainage for the new toilet, a fire safety door, fire resistant ceiling in the kitchen and work to the stairs. Ms Rehman was unable to provide details of the builder at the time but subsequently personally delivered a builder’s invoice with Mr Y. Khan’s signature and address to the council offices. The invoice bore the name of a local building company who subsequently confirmed that they had not completed the work.
After considering the case, Judges praised Wycombe District Council for the clarity of the evidence it had presented to the Court and ordered Ms Rehman to pay a total of £17,986 (£16,000 fines, costs £1866 and victim surcharge £120). The fine was based on her income.
Mr Yasser Khan of Chairborough Rd, who supplied the invoice for building work at the property, was fined £8,000 with full costs of £1866 and victim surcharge £120. The false invoice carried his address and signature.
The prosecution was part of a clampdown on rogue landlords and fraudulent practice by Wycombe District Council. Other recent prosecutions, which have resulted in fines and costs of thousands of pounds, include cases against illegal outbuildings being rented out and people making fraudulent applications for social housing.
Both defendants have been given 14 days to pay in full. In line with standard practice, they now have 21 days to appeal the court decision.
If you think anyone is committing fraud you can report your suspicions to the Corporate Fraud Team at Wycombe District Council by freephone on 0800 0158995 or by e-mail to [email protected] All calls and e-mails are treated in the strictest confidence.