Criminal car wash landlord fined after “putting lives at risk”

A rogue landlord who allowed vulnerable tenants to live in appalling conditions without windows, proper washing facilities or fire safety measures at a converted car garage has received a criminal conviction and a near £10,000 court fine following a Hackney Council intervention.

Thames Magistrates Court heard how Mehmet Gurcuoglu, Director of Golden Motors on Andre Street in Hackney Downs, used a dilapidated outbuilding at the railway arch car wash and tyre workshop to house private renters, providing bedrooms with dangerous electrics, no natural light and a kitchen without hot water.

The illegal premises also had tyres stored up to the ceiling and blocking escape routes, putting the lives of the residents at grave risk in an emergency. As well as being flammable, the tyres would have filled the escape route with toxic gases if they had caught fire, with the one battery operated smoke alarm covered up with plastic sheeting meaning that the tenants would not be alerted to a fire.

Council officers initially joined police on a raid of the property in 2019, forcing the landlord to remove the tenants from the dangerous building before taking legal action.

Mr Gurcuoglu pleaded guilty to operating a privately rented HMO (house in multiple occupation) property without a licence and to five breaches of management regulations at court last month after the Council took legal action, resulting in a £8,992 court fine.

Cllr Sem Moema, Mayoral Adviser for Private Renting and Housing Affordability
This is one of the most atrocious cases of mistreatment of private tenants we have seen in Hackney, with the landlord putting lives at risk by placing people in conditions that simply aren’t meant for living in.

But while this is an extreme example of criminal behaviour, it’s also a symptom of the wider housing shortage and a poorly regulated private rented sector that encourages landlords to let out poor quality homes at often extortionate rents.

Our crackdown shows that we’ll take whatever action we can to tackle those who don’t play by the rules –  while we continue our campaign for better renting and a fairer system for tenants, starting with a ban on unfair evictions and measures to ensure genuinely affordable rent levels.
Cllr Sem Moema, Mayoral Adviser for Private Renting and Housing Affordability

Earlier this year rogue landlords who illegally let a Clapton property without providing proper washing facilities or tackling serious fire hazards were fined £22,000 after a Hackney Council prosecution, while the Council has continued to make the case to the government for a ban on Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions as part of it’s #BetterRenting campaign.

More details on the Council’s property licensing schemes, including how to apply and report breaches, are available at: hackney.gov.uk/property-licensing

Support for private renters

If you’re concerned about the condition of your home or treatment from a landlord we can investigate and – where appropriate – take action. It is illegal for your landlord to take eviction action because of a complaint or request for a repair. Contact the private sector housing team on 020 8356 4866 (Mon to Fri, 9am-4pm) or privatesectorhousing@hackney.gov.uk