May 29 2012

Mohammed “Shak” Shakil- Dodgy Landlord number 1

The following passages are intended to be a warning to people or organisations contemplating future dealings with the named party. All the information contained below is evidenced and has only been placed into the public domain following lengthy attempts informally, formally and via Nottingham Solidarity Network, to secure the return of J’s deposit.

Mohammed ‘Shak’ Shakil is the former owner and landlord of a four bedroom house at 7 Alberta Terrace located in the Sherwood Rise area of Nottingham. Before moving into the property in May 2008, £650 was handed over as a deposit in order to secure the tenancy by the four tenants. This money should have been placed within one of the three national deposit protection schemes available in the UK. Upon later enquiry about whether the deposit had indeed been paid into the scheme as required, he claimed it had, but that the paperwork was located at his brother’s house. He also failed to provide an inventory of the contents of the property.

Upon moving in, it became apparent that users of hard drugs had lived in the property previously. This was evidenced by burn marks on the carpet and finding several burnt drinks cans. There was also graffiti in the cellar. At first, aside from the problematic electrics which occasionally buzzed in the bathroom and caused light bulbs and the fuse box to trip, the house was maintained to a good standard. However, towards the end of the tenancy the landlord did not fix the upstairs shower despite numerous requests. By the time the tenants moved out, further deterioration of the property had occurred, with the kitchen roof leaking, the heating not functioning and ceiling cladding falling to the ground.

During the residency period we were visited once a month and rent was handed over to Shak in person. If we wished to contact Shak, we had to ring a constantly changing mobile number. He was also using the address to have his correspondence posted to and then collecting it at the same time as the rent. The reasons for this soon become obvious as the letters were from a number of collection agencies. On one occasion agents of the court arrived to issue a court summons.

During the period we were living in the flat, Shak only put the names of two residents down on the tenancy agreement. We believe this was because he wanted to avoid having to secure a multiple occupancy licence. Shak increased the rent on the property from £650 to £700 per month in October 2011. Upon insisting that the new tenancy agreement be issued to reflect this change, it was issued without a single named tenant on the agreement. He also failed to inform his mortgage provider, Northern Rock, that there were tenants staying in the building, claiming that he was still a resident in the property. They confirmed that us notifying them of our presence as tenants in the property was the first they had heard of this and stated that his mortgage did not allow this arrangement.

Just before Christmas, upon receiving an eviction notice from Northern Rock, we learnt that Shak had failed to pay the mortgage on the property for the last six months and the house was being repossessed. Shak continued to protest, claiming this was a mix up and that the matter would be resolved. He also promised on numerous occasions to return our deposit. Upon threatening to not pay our final month’s rent, he claimed that if we did this he would definitely lose the house. Not wanting to be responsible for this, we handed over the cash. In retrospect this was naive.

As matters progressed it became evident the house was definitely going to be repossessed. At this point Shak arrived with a friend when only one tenant was in the house and said he was removing the furniture and fittings from the flat to sell, in order to secure us our deposit. This was out of the question, as we still required essential items like toilets and central heating in order to live in the property! After an argument he eventually agreed to leave. When we notified Shak of our intention to vacate the property, he gutted the property, including ripping out floorboards, toilet fittings and copper wiring from the walls. Upon asking for the return of our deposit for a final time, he replied with a text beginning, “lol” and claimed we had damaged his house. He refused to pay us any money at all.

Shak previously ran The Pawnbrokers Ltd located at 77 Mansfield Road before it entered insolvency. He has previously temped via Manpower employment agency in a customer services role for Eon at Loxley House in Nottingham city centre and currently does cash in hand work at NAD’s takeaway in Carrington, owned by his brother-in-law. His current whereabouts are unknown and we have never received any notification of where he actually resides. Our best guess is that he currently resides at his sister’s property, also in Carrington.

Shak has also threatened violence against former tenants after the Nottingham Solidarity Network phone blockade against NADs takeaway. Upon moving out we have learned that he has been slandering the former residents of the property by informing his friends and acquaintances that, contrary to events, he was willing to pay us our deposit back until he discovered we had sold his furniture and trashed his house. We strongly dispute this version of events and would advise any people having future dealings with him to be aware of his consistent deceitfulness, intransigence and manipulation during our relationship with him.

Apr 20 2012

Action update

Over the past 3 weeks Nottingham Solidarity Network has been taking actions against a dodgy landlord, Mr Shakil, also known as “Shak”. The landlord collected rent from tenants whilst at the same time not paying the mortgage. This caused them to be evicted upon repossession of the house. The landlord also neglected to pay the £700 deposit into a deposit protection scheme as required by law, nor maintain the property.

We see this level of mendacity as stemming from the control landlords and bosses have over our lives and thus we created Nottingham Solidarity Network in order to fight back. J contacted us and together we have come up with ways of collectivizing the dispute in order to apply pressure to get the money back he’s owed.

On Saturday March 31st twenty or so friends of NSN met in Carrington to await a sighting of Mr Shakil in his new workplace; Nad’s takeaway owned by his brother in law. Once we spotted him getting into his car on the other side of the road we briskly made our way towards him. Whilst the group surrounded the car, J knocked on the open window and handed over a letter demanding the return of the £700. Mr Shakil accepted the letter, mumbled several unconvincing excuses and drove off at speed.

This action had the benefit of showed Mr Shakil that this was no longer merely an issue between ex-tenants and ex-landlord, but had become a collective action. The relationship between landlord and tenant is one which has an intrinsically uneven power balance, with the landlord the owner of the property collecting money from the tenant who has no other option but to pay or be made homeless. When the tenant pays rent, but is still evicted from their home this is an abuse of this power.

In order to redistribute this power we can respond collectively, ensuring that landlords and bosses in Nottingham are aware that their actions will elicit a response.

Having received no response from Mr Shakil we decided to again target his workplace in order to remind him that action will continue to escalate until the deposit is returned. To this end Nottingham Solidarity Network called out for as many people as possible to contact the takeaway from 6pm to 10pm on Saturday the 14th April via phone, and politely ask for the circumstances to be redressed.

Following a call out via numerous organisations, social media platforms and websites the subsequent phone blockade was hugely effective. We’d like to thank everyone who showed solidarity by taking the time to get involved.Scores of people reported ringing in, with calls frequently unable to connect and going to voicemail. Staff reactions included denying he worked there, resignation, intimidation and threats of violence.

Obviously perturbed, reports suggest that a member of staff called the police at around 7pm and some callers who weren’t shielding their number were then contacted from a local police station and told to desist or face repercussions. Despite these questionable attempts at intimidation the call out had already gone out and people continued to ring throughout the evening. There have been no further attempts to contact callers by the police that we know of, but if anyone has had contact please let us know.

Reports from takeaway staff indicated that takings were down 50% on a normal Saturday, one of the two busiest days of the week for them. This is a reminder of our power when we act collectively.

These actions have obviously caused Shak discomfort as he took this occasion to make his first proactive engagement with the NSN. Unfortunately this was to contact a fellow ex tenant unconnected to NSN and make a series of threats against his person, whilst simultaneously admitting fault and expressing a desire to pay if he had the means. He also contacted the NSN phone. We refuse to be intimidated and hope this marks the beginning of Mr Shakil’s engagement with us.

NSN will continue to take actions until Mr Shakil begins act in good faith and takes steps to begin to repay the outstanding deposit.