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A PROPERTY tycoon in east London has been accused of “systematically exploiting” hundreds of tenants by “stealing” deposits and intimidating renters.
Twenty-seven former tenants of Rakesh Patel, who owns 49 HMO — houses of multiple occupancy — properties in Tower Hamlets, have this week launched a public campaign to get their deposits back.
The group, supported by London Renters Union (LRU) have accused Mr Patel in an open letter of deducting money based on “bogus” claims, and have threatened legal action if the deposits are not repaid.
A series of more sinister allegations have also been made against the borough’s biggest HMO landlord.
Tenants claim to have seen “associates” of Mr Patel watching their house from a parked car outside and having personal information leaked after they expressed grievances with other tenants.
Mr Patel said the allegations were “completely false.”
Charlotte, a renter in Tower Hamlets and organiser with LRU, told the Morning Star today that Mr Patel’s tenants are almost exclusively students and migrants, meaning the deduction to their deposits have had a “huge impact.”
The union has also accused Tower Hamlets council of “negligence” for allegedly refusing to hold a meeting with Mr Patel about tenants’ complaints.
Charlotte, who preferred not to give their surname, said it was “shocking” to “see landlords like this harassing and exploiting their tenants in such legally questionable ways and on such a huge scale.”
Mr Patel told the Morning Star that tenants had entered a regulated tenant-agreement with protected deposits and “have not attempted to contact me to resolve their grievances or followed the Tenancy Deposit Scheme procedure for disputes.”
“I am perfectly happy to discuss any issues with them and attempt to settle any issues amicably.”
Tower Hamlets council was contacted for comment.
Local MP Apsana Begum, who has lent her support to the campaign, said she is “alarmed” by LRU’s reports and testimonies.
“Clearly there is a need for an urgent investigation in this regard and follow-up action by authorities as appropriate,” she told the Morning Star.
The MP for Poplar and Limehouse also blamed the government for stripping back protections for renters and refusing to “take any steps to give renters the basic consumer rights we would expect in other markets: to control costs, increase security and drive up standards.”
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