Restaurant owners who housed staff in squalid, unlicensed accommodation above their Bolton business have been fined more than £10,000.
In December, a surprise multi-agency inspection of India Gate in Westhoughton revealed evidence of people living in unsafe conditions in upstairs bedrooms.
Appearing at Bolton Magistrates’ Court last week, owner and director Heron Ali admitted he did not have a valid licence for managing a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
Under the law, an HMO is defined as any property occupied by three or more people, who form two or more households and share a kitchen, bathroom or other amenities. When these types of properties are occupied by five or more people, they must have a licence.
The court heard how Ali originally told inspectors that only one tenant lived upstairs, meaning he did not need to comply with the relevant legislation.
But the inspection team, made up of Bolton Council officers, Greater Manchester Police and Immigration Enforcement, found evidence that at least five people were living there.
Ali had already admitted 16 other housing offences at an earlier court appearance in August, including inadequate fire safety measures, disrepair and bedrooms padlocked from the outside.
His business partner, company secretary Nazmul Hussain of their company Chan Restaurant, also pleaded guilty to the same 16 offences at the August hearing.
Magistrates ordered Ali to pay a combined fine of £2,620 together with £500 in costs and a £180 victim surcharge. Hussain must pay £1,500 in fines, £300 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge. Chan Restaurant was handed a £6,000 fine, £835.61 costs and a £180 victim surcharge.
Bolton Council’s executive cabinet member for environmental services delivery, councillor Adele Warren, said: “This was a shocking example of tenants living in unsuitable and dangerous conditions. Together with our partners in the police and other agencies, we have sent a clear message that nobody is above the law when it comes to housing standards.
“Everyone has the right to a safe place to live, and through our Rogue Landlord Project we will continue to hold reckless and exploitative landlords to account.”