£5m worth of properties in Glasgow are being repossessed after Glasgow City Council recently deemed them unfit to live in.
Tenants were being charged up to £500 a month to live in homes that lack proper working amenities, including heating, electricity, water and drainage. The properties, mostly in the Govanhill area of Glasgow and owned by 22 landlords, were being let out to immigrants from Eastern Europe.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, MSP for the Govanhill area, said: “Rogue landlords are being identified and action is being taken to improve properties in the area.”
One of the most notorious of the landlords, Akhtar Ali, who owns properties worth £750,000, was banned from being a landlord after a fire in one of his flats injured two people. It was found that gas and electricity meters had been rigged and his flats had no smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.
Another "slum landlord" named Johar Mirza, who rented out five substandard properties worth a total of £100,000, is also one of four of the landlords on the sex offenders register.
Offending landlords are likely to face a £50,000 fine and criminal prosecution if they attempt to let out their properties again.
Adam Lang of the housing charity Shelter Scotland has highlighted the implications of rogue landlords on the homelessness crisis. He pointed out that: "40% of private renters who seek help from the charity have problems with the condition of their home and/or their landlord."
Glasgow City Council has announced that the four tenement blocks in which the seized flats are situated will also be designated an Enhanced Enforcement Area (EEA) under new powers granted to it by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014. This will allow the Council a right of forced entry to the rented properties if there have been complaints about the way they are being managed.
Bailie Liz Cameron, the Council’s executive member for economic development, has welcomed this development, saying that this will help drive forward improvements in the Govanhill area.
She said: “The new powers will help us identify the scale of the housing problems being faced by residents.”
The council will be the first in Scotland to set up an EEA, and ultimately intends to buy a majority of the 579 flats within the blocks in order to combat the exceptional rate of problems faced by private renters in Govanhill. After the flats have been purchased, it is expected that their management will be transferred to Govanhill Housing Association. The plans are expected to cost around £9.3m and have the support of the Scottish Government.
Councillor Mhairi Hunter said: “The council have the right to demand high standards from landlords, otherwise they will be ultimately taken to task."