A rogue landlord who illegally rented out properties in Fife has been sent to jail after failing to pay a penny of his £12,000 fine.
Mohammed Murtaza was ordered to stump up the cash in January last year after he admitted leasing two homes in Kirkcaldy without being registered as a landlord with the local authority.
The 49-year-old, who has previous convictions of the same nature, looked stunned as he was led from the dock in Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court in handcuffs to begin his two-year sentence.
He had attended for a confiscation hearing, as prosecutors try to seize earnings he is alleged to have made from his crimes.
However the court heard the former taxi driver, who lost his licence as a result of his conviction, had paid none of the fine imposed.
Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC told Murtaza: “You have made no effort to pay the fines.
“It must be said that the fines were set at that level because of the repeated offending, not only on this complaint but you have previous convictions for doing the same thing.”
Murtaza, of Kirkcaldy, became the first person in Scotland to be banned from renting out homes in Scotland.
A 12-month order was made against him in May 2017 after he had let properties in Valley Gardens, Dunnikier Road and Kennedy Crescent, Kirkcaldy, despite being refused entry to Fife Council’s landlord register.
Murtaza had been refused registration in June 2015, after conviction of failing to comply with duties under anti-social behaviour legislation and for breaching gas safety legislation.
His refusal – a first by the council – made it a criminal offence for him to rent out residential property in the region.
At the time of his ban John Mills, the council’s head of housing, said: “The outcome of this particular case sends a clear message to private landlords in Fife that the council will continue to take all appropriate action to protect tenants and improve property standards in the private sector.”
Murtaza, however, went on to let out two properties in Kirkcaldy in 2017.
Just days after his ban a new tenant was lined up via a third party for one of Murtaza’s properties on Kennedy Crescent.
Another tenant continued to live in a second property he owned in Valley Gardens during the seven-month period in 2017.
When Sheriff Gilchrist fined Murtaza last year he said the unregistered landlord had £70,000 equity on his two properties and was clearly able to pay a substantial penalty. He gave him six months to pay and banned him from registering as a landlord for a further four years.
A further date has been set for his confiscation hearing of May 13.