Leading business figure guilty over unlicensed flats.
Byline: Sean Seddon Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
ADECORATED North East businessman and community figure has been found guilty of owning a shared house without the correct licences.
Ammar Mirza CBE was sentenced alongside City Based Lettings Limited, which managed the property, at North Tyneside Magistrates' Court.
Mirza, 44, of Mosely Street, Newcastle and the lettings firm were found guilty of having control of or managing a house in multiple occupation which was required to be licensed under Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 but which was not licensed.
Both parties were fined PS4,000 and ordered to pay PS2,000 in costs.
Mirza insists there was no deliberate wrongdoing on his part and says he is confident he will win an appeal against the decision.
As of yesterday afternoon North Tyneside Magistrates' Court had not received an application to appeal.
Following the court case, he told The Journal: "As far as I'm concerned the property was managed by a reputable agent and I wholly dispute the fact that I have done anything wrong. Consequently, I'm appealing the matter and I'm confident it will successfully go in my favour.
"I have worked tirelessly to support the region in a voluntary capacity and I will continue to do so."
Both Mirza and City Based Lettings Limited denied not having the correct licence for three flats - blocks A, B and C in Summerhill House on Westmorland Road in Newcastle's West End - but were found guilty after a trial.
A fire broke out in one of the flats on December 13, 2016 and it became clear the property had 19 bedrooms.
An investigation was launched by Newcastle City Council and a number of fire safety concerns were identified, although no-one was hurt. Passing sentence on January 31, District Judge Begley said: "What is described here is of medium level culpability or negligence and the starting point is a B and D fine."
The judge added: "I'm taking into account that there are three offences, but I'm mainly concerned with what happened in flat B, where the fire was."
Mirza is a prominent figure in the North East's business world, mixing with figures of regional and national influence. He previously served on the board of Your Homes Newcastle, the arm's length company which provides social housing on behalf of Newcastle City Council.
Mirza is also currently on the board of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, a joint body made up of council leaders and business figures which aims to promote growth in the region.
A Newcastle City Council spokesperson said the authority would "not hesitate to prosecute a landlord who puts lives at risk by failing to comply with the law".
Ammar Mirza CBE