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Housing fraud gang who rented out Newham properties prosecuted

PUBLISHED: 19:00 01 April 2016 | UPDATED: 12:10 04 April 2016

An organised criminal gang of six were fined thousands of pounds at Thames Magistrates' Court

An organised criminal gang of six were fined thousands of pounds at Thames Magistrates' Court

Archant

Six men described as a “gang of chancers” will have to pay more than £79,000 after using fake names and businesses to rent out properties in Newham.

Lenner Guaman of Croydon Road, Plaistow, was a member of a group prosecuted by Newham Council for housing offences alongside Luis Limongi, 34, of Penfold Place, Regents Park, Ney Limongi, 40, of Aberfeldy Street, Poplar, Christian Limongi, 28, of Fairmont Avenue, Poplar, Leandra Velez of Castalia Square, Poplar, and Alex Ibarra of Lanark Square, Poplar.

Property firms Q Lion Management and London Rooms Rental were also prosecuted after Newham Council brought housing offence charges against them. Flatshare London and Valenberg Properties were also targeted but dissolved shortly before going to trial.

The group faced 115 charges in total relating to five Newham properties. These included failure to licence the properties and provide correct documentation to the council, plus breaches of safety conditions.

The group were ordered to pay fines of £43,740 and the council’s investigations costs totalling £35,168.

Their activities came to light after Luis Limongi’s name appeared on a tenancy agreement in a house not licensed as a rental property in January 2013. The home owner was later prosecuted.

After further investigations, Newham Council’s licensing team discovered a number of tenancy agreements bearing Limongi’s name, that of his accomplices or up to 25 businesses all of which were then quickly dissolved, as the landlord or licence holder.

Tenants were found living in unlicensed subdivided properties with minimal fire safety by the council.

They had been “stripped of their statutory rights” under their tenancy agreements and deposits were not placed in mandatory deposit protection scheme.

Cllr Andrew Baikie, mayoral advisor for housing, said: “This gang of chancers tried everything they could to avoid taking responsibility for their tenants.

“They were all about making as much as possible from these properties and used false names and businesses which they would dissolve.

“Their tenants were left with worthless tenancy agreements and they had no chance of getting their deposits back when they moved on.”

Luis Limongi pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to licence a property as a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) under the Housing Act 2004, 30 charges under the HMO Management Regulations 2006 and four charges of failing to return documents under section 235 of the Housing Act 2004.

He was ordered to pay £18,450 of fines and £10,415 of costs.

Ney Limongi pleaded guilty to four charges of failing to licence a property as a HMO under the Housing Act 2004, 36 charges under the HMO Management Regulations 2006 and five charges of failing to return documents under section 235 of the Housing Act 2004.

He was ordered to pay £14,040 of fines and £14,690 of costs.

Christian Limongi was found guilty of one charge in his absence of failing to licence a property as a HMO under the Housing Act 2004, 10 charges under the HMO Management Regulations 2006 and one charge of failing to return documents under section 235 of the Housing Act 2004.

He was ordered to pay £4,050 fines for 12 charges and costs of £3,456.

Leandra Velez was found guilty of one charge in his absence of failing to licence a property as a HMO under the Housing Act 2004, 10 charges under the HMO Management Regulations 2006 and one charge of failing to return documents under section 235 of the Housing Act 2004.

He was ordered to pay £4,050 and costs of £1,832.

Alex Ibarra was found guilty of one charge in his absence of failing to licence a property as a HMO under the Housing Act 2004 and six charges under the HMO Management Regulations 2006. He was fined £2,550 and ordered to pay costs of £4,275.

Lenner Guaman was found guilty of one charge in his absence of failing to licence a property as a HMO under the Housing Act 2004 and ordered to pay a £300 fine and £250 costs.

London Rooms Rental Ltd was charged with one offence of failing to return documents under section 235 of the Housing Act 2004. It was fined £300 and ordered to pay costs of £250.


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