A LANDLORD who tried to cram tenants into rooms he had been told were too small has been hit with a record fine.

HMO landlord Muharrem Kartal “put people’s lives at risk” and was ordered to pay £45,650 by a magistrate.

He was also found guilty of overcrowding and failing to maintain shared kitchens and bathrooms in a safe and working condition.

The fine is the largest to date for a breach of housing regulations in Brighton and Hove.

Mr Kartal had previously pleaded guilty to three charges in December before his sentencing on April 6, including failing to maintain fire escapes, failing to keep them free from obstruction and failure to keep fire equipment in good working order.

The charges were bought following a council inspection of a four-storey maisonette above a restaurant in Church Road, Hove, by officers in July which found at least 12 people living in the building licensed for nine.

Mr Kartal had previously been prosecuted for not licensing this property as well as breaches of food hygiene legislation in another restaurant run by him.

He will have to pay a fine of £43,680, the minimum annual rental income Mr Kartal collected from the property, as well as a £170 victim surcharge and the council’s £1,800 legal costs.

Councillor Anne Meadows, housing and new homes committee chairwoman, said: “This case highlights the importance of enforcing HMO licensing and regulations in the city.

“Residents in this property were not only living in over-crowded conditions without basic facilities, their lives were put in danger by an unscrupulous landlord taking their rent with little apparent concern for the safety of his tenants.

“That the case went to trial shows how serious theses offences were and I’d like to thank our officers for their diligent work in pressing the case and the evidence they presented in court that resulted in the convictions.”