Criminal landlord dealt justice in Newham

17 January 2017 in Community safety and Mayor
​Newham Council’s campaign to protect residents from rogue and criminal landlords has scored a significant victory with the second successful prosecution of Olanrewaju Sharomi.
She was found guilty at a hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday (January 13) of harassing a mother and her two young children, aged six and ten, who rented a property from her in Dennison Point, Stratford.

Sharomi, a former board member of the Carpenters Tenant Management Organisation, was ordered to do 175 hours of community service. The judge also told her she will face a substantial fine and will return to court on Friday 27 January to discover how much this will be.

The judge heard that Sharomi, 49, of Bell Farm Avenue, Dagenham, and her husband constantly visited the victim, often up to twice a day, demanding that she leave the property. She also assaulted the victim as she forced her way into the property, and left the tenant and her young children without electricity meaning she had no access to heat, light, hot water, or cooking facilities.

It is the second time Newham Council’s Private Housing Team has prosecuted Sharomi. Both prosecutions were made possible by the council’s property licensing scheme, introduced in January 2013 to tackle anti-social behaviour in the private rented sector and protect vulnerable tenants from exploitative landlords.

Under the scheme every private rented property must be licensed and inspected by the council’s housing enforcement officers. Landlords who offer poor quality accommodation in the borough are challenged to improve. Failure or refusal to do so could lead to them being prosecuted. Since January 2013 the council has carried out 1,000 prosecutions against landlords.

In 2016 Sharomi was convicted for failing to licence her leasehold flat in Dennison Point on the Carpenters Estate with the council’s property licensing scheme. She was also found guilty of supplying false or misleading information to the council about where she lived.

An investigation launched by the council in 2015 found she had been letting the two-bedroom flat to a woman and her two children since at least 2008. To avoid applying for a licence Sharomi, a registered childminder at the time, claimed she lived at the property. However her tenant gave evidence in court disputing this.

Officers also discovered her childcare business was registered to a property in Dagenham. As a result she was found guilty of supplying false or misleading information to the council.

She was fined £13,000 for the two offences and ordered to pay the council’s costs of £3,491 and a victim surcharge of £150.

The licensing scheme was introduced as a five year pilot which is due to come to an end this year. In order to renew it the council has to hold a formal consultation with residents and landlords. This is currently being carried out and ends on Monday 23 January. Following this, the council will make a submission to government detailing why it wants to continue with the property licensing scheme.

After Friday’s court case the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, said: “Olanrewaju Sharomi, was well aware of her responsibilities as a landlord, but chose not only to break the law, but also subjected her tenant and young children to a campaign of intimidation, violence and harassment.

“I welcome this successful prosecution as Sharomi is exactly the sort of person our property licensing scheme is designed to drive out of the borough.

“Her convictions send out a clear message to other criminal landlords – you will not be allowed exploit our residents and prosper in Newham. Through our private rented sector licensing scheme, we will find and prosecute you. I applaud our housing team for their tenacity and vigour in pursuing Sharomi, as well as their care in supporting the tenant through the prosecution process.

“The fact Newham is responsible for 70 per cent of all landlord prosecutions across London, shows just how successful the scheme has been. This scheme is driving up standards in the borough, and other councils around the country who’ve seen its success are starting to introduce their own schemes. It is crucial the government also recognises the necessity and impact of this scheme and allows us to continue our work for another five years.”