Council could buy homes from rogue landlords as full extent of disrepair and mismanagement revealed
Glasgow City Council has set aside almost £50 million to bring up to 500 properties under public ownership as a newspaper investigation revealed many homes to be in a state of squalor and landlords with serious criminal convictions.
In the past nine months, a total of 22 landlords with millions of pounds worth of homes in the Govanhill area have been banned from renting properties. The figure includes nine from the last month alone.
The landlords now face losing the properties under compulsory purchase laws, unless they agree to sell them to the local authority.
An investigation from the Sunday Mail, which has been retold in the Daily Record, revealed that properties owned by the banned landlords were in dangerous and unhygienic conditions, many of which were rented out to eastern European immigrants for as much as £500 a month for rooms with no hot water, dangerous wiring, poor sanitation and faulty windows.
Most of the buildings owned by notorious landlords Akhtar Ali and Johar Mirza are in the Govanhill area.
Glasgow City Council is the first in Scotland and Enhanced Enforcement Area (EEA) to tackle the problem head on.
A team within the council’s housing department plans to crack down on more landlords in the next few weeks. They have permission to enter properties without the owner’s permission.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose Holyrood constituency contains many of the properties, told the Sunday Mail: “I welcome the fact that as a result of community, Government and Glasgow Council efforts, rogue landlords are being identified and action is being taken to improve properties in the area.
“Govanhill is a vibrant community and working alongside the new administration in Glasgow and the local community, I will continue to champion improvements in the area.”
Richard Brown, executive director for development and regeneration services at Glasgow City Council, added: “Whenever there is evidence that a landlord is no longer a suitable person to rent out property or they fail to manage their property appropriately, we will always seek to take action.
“Govanhill has been an area of the city where particular problems with landlords have been identified.
“The additional powers available to us through Govanhill’s Enhanced Enforcement Area are helping us to improve standards.”
Earlier this year one of the landlords, Akhtar Ali, was banned from letting out property after a fire at one of his flats which injured two people.
Several of Ali’s properties have in the past been reported as unsafe, dangerous and unhygienic. His property portfolio has a value of over £750,000.
When confronted, Ali said he was appealing the decision to strike him off.
Failings with heating, drainage, hot water and electricity make up just a portion of the catalogue of failings found in the properties in question.
Fourteen housing blocks in Govanhill now fall under the enforcement area.
Development and regeneration manager at Govanhill Housing Association, Ken MacDougall, said: “We’ve campaigned long and hard to ensure there is more regulation of the private rental sector.”
Four men, Muhammed Anwar, Graham Mills, Jamil Ahmed and Mirza were all banned or removed from the register after it was discovered they were sex offenders.
Others include Lawrence Reilly, Usman Ul Haq, Abid Mahmood, Shazia Akhtar, Abdul Shakoor, Mohammed Adnan Hussain, Ashiq Mohammed and Shabnam Sattar.
According to reports they were letting out properties in Govanhill with a combined value of around £1.5 million.