Worthing restaurant owner fined for poor housing conditions

A LANDLORD who placed his staff in danger by housing them in an inadequate flat above his restaurant has been ordered to shell out more than £4,000.

Court story
Court story

Kaher Zaman, 46, runs a restaurant in Warwick Street, Worthing. The Storrington resident, of Hormare Crescent, admitted to breaching a prohibition order placed on him by Worthing Borough Council.

“In March, 2014, officers from the council found that a flat owned by Mr Zaman, registered as empty with council tax, was being used by at least four people,” said Worthing Borough Council.

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“Furthermore, there were no cooking or drinking water facilities within the flat and the rooms were overcrowded. There was also inadequate means of escape in the case of fire.”

Zaman, owner of Zaman restaurant, used the flat to provide accommodation for staff working at his restaurant, a council spokeswoman told the Herald.

The flat is above the restaurant but its address is given in court documents as Ann Street, behind Warwick Street, as this is where the entrance is located. After housing officers discovered the situation at the flat, they tried to contact the landlord.

However, the council said Zaman did not respond to any communication from officers.

Because of the high risk to the safety of any occupants, a prohibition order was served in July, 2014, by the council under the 2004 housing act, preventing the flat from being used for any purpose not approved by the council.

“However, when officers revisited the flat in September, 2014, they found that there were still people using the flat, and that no improvements had been carried out to make the property safe or to allow the order to be lifted,” said the council.

“Although discussions were held with Mr Zaman and his surveyor in an attempt to improve conditions, a further inspection in May, 2015, revealed that the flat was still occupied. A rudimentary kitchen had been installed but in the fire escape route.”

Worthing Borough council described this as adding ‘an increased risk to the occupants’ and the case was referred to the council’s legal section for prosecution.

After pleading guilty to breaching the prohibition order at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on November 17, Zaman was fined a total of £4,864.09.

His offence was described as a ‘very serious matter’ and he was described as behaving ‘unreasonably’ by failing to take action to sort out the problems with the flat.

The total payout was made up of a £3,334 fine and he must also pay the council’s costs of £1,260.09, a surcharge of £120 and the newly-introduced criminal court charge of £150.

Reacting to the sentencing, councillor Heather Mercer, executive member for customer services, said: “The council cares about its residents and prohibition orders under the housing act are only served when there is a high risk to the health and safety of occupants.

“The owner of the flat ignored the officers and continued to place his staff in danger. The level of the fine and the comments made by the court shows that they take this type of offence seriously and supports the stance taken by our private sector housing team in pursuing formal action.”

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