More than 20 slum landlords face having properties worth £5million seized in a government purge – after risking the lives of tenants in squalid conditions.
The shocking state of properties owned by the banned tycoons are exposed by the Sunday Mail today.
The majority of those owned by landlords including Akhtar Ali and Johar Mirza are in the Holyrood constituency of First Minister
They charge desperate tenants, many of them eastern European immigrants, in Glasgow’s Govanhill district as much as £500 a month for rooms with no hot water, dangerous wiring, poor sanitation and faulty windows.
A council hit squad have been set up with extra powers to tackle the problem.
In the last nine months, 22 landlords in the area have been banned from renting out properties.
The owners face criminal prosecution and a £50,000 fine if they attempt to act as landlords in the future.
Now they will be forced to offload the properties under compulsory purchase laws if they do not agree to sell to Glasgow City Council.
Chiefs have set aside £48million to buy up to 500 properties from slum landlords and bring the stock under public ownership.
The local authority are the first in the country to use new Scottish Government laws to set up an Enhanced Enforcement Area (EEA) to target rogues.
The team are part of the council’s housing department and plan to crack down on more landlords in the next few weeks. They have permission to enter properties without the owner’s permission.
Sturgeon said: “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, is responsible for monitoring all landlords in the city.
He said: “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.”
Ali, 49, who lives in a £250,000 semi in Glasgow’s Pollokshields, was banned earlier this year after a fire at one of his flats in nearby Glenapp Street.
Two people needed hospital treatment and a subsequent inspection of his seven properties in Govanhill revealed a shocking catalogue of failings.
Officials discovered that the gas and electricity meters had been by-passed and the flats had no smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.
One of Ali’s properties in Garturk Street also had no hot water. His property portfolio has a value of more than £750,000.
When confronted by the Sunday Mail, Ali said he was appealing the decision to strike him off.
He has been allowed to keep letting properties until his appeal is heard.
So far, one rogue landlord, Mirza, 36, from Thornliebank, Glasgow, has had property seized, with more to follow.
Glasgow City Council bought one of his Govanhill flats after it was repossessed by his lender when he defaulted on mortgage payments.
Mirza was removed from the Landlord Register after it was discovered he was a convicted sex offender. He has also been on the FBI’s most wanted list for alleged fraud in the US.
A council probe found that he ran five substandard flats in the city – worth more than £400,000 – which were closed down because they were in such a poor condition.
One flat in Allison Street was shut because heating, provision of hot water, drainage, electrics and cooking facilities were all substandard.
The crackdown using the new EEA powers has so far been limited to four housing blocks in Govanhill under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014. However, investigators’ remit has been extended to 14 blocks in the area.
Shocking images from inside properties reveal the hazardous conditions in which rogue landlords expect their desperate tenants to live.
Photographs provided by EEA investigators show dangerous electrical wiring running throughout the flats.
A high number of immigrants from eastern Europe, including Roma families from Slovakia, have settled in Govanhill.
The council plan to buy up slum properties through the Govanhill Acquisition and Repairs Programme.
They will be managed on a day-to-day basis by Govanhill Housing Association.
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.
Anwar, who rented out three flats worth about £350,000, was found to have three convictions for sexual offences against a child and was serving six years in prison. He even applied for his landlords’ licence while in prison.
Ahmed, from Pollokshields, Glasgow, had his application to be a landlord refused after it was discovered he had been sentenced to 42 months in 2013 for having under age sex with two girls in Ayrshire and abusing a third.
Mohammed Usram was banned after his £150,000 property in Langside Road was found to have faulty electrics, no hot water, a broken toilet and holes in ceilings and the floor. Usram had been the subject of a closure order.
Other property owners banned are Lawrence Reilly, Usman Ul Haq, Abid Mahmood, Shazia Akhtar, Abdul Shakoor, Mohammed Adnan Hussain, Ashiq Mohammed and Shabnam Sattar.
They were all letting out properties in the Govanhill area with a combined value of about £1.5million.
Gangster Francis “Fraggle” Green was banned from being a landlord in 2014. He is the son of crime boss Jamie Daniel, who died of cancer last year.
Councillor Mhairi Hunter, of Glasgow City Council’s Govanhill Taskforce, said major efforts are being made to clean up the area.
She added: “The council have the right to demand high standards from landlords, otherwise they will ultimately be taken to task.
“The Enhanced Enforcement Area is going to be rolled out across a further 14 blocks and I fully anticipate its initial success will be repeated.”