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Unlawful eviction and harassment
13/02/2022

This is not my beautiful house

Rasool v Paddington Company One Ltd  (2021) EWHC 3633 (QB)

A combined hearing of a return date on an ex parte interim junction for re-entry, and a claim for possession by the property owner against a trespasser. A somewhat unusual combination, you might think, though not outside the bounds of possibility. But bear with me, because this will turn out to be quite the ride.

On 29 November 2021, Mr Rasool had sought and been granted an out of hours ex parte interim injunction for re-entry to 406 Betula House, Paddington Gardens, North Wharf Rd, London, stating in evidence that he had been the tenant since 2019 and had been unlawfully evicted. Mr Rasool was directed to file and serve a claim in short order, as is usual with an interim injunction. Mr Rasool did not do so.

This all appears to have come as something of surprise to the owners of the flat, Paddington Company One. They filed evidence that the tenant of the property had been a company called Rami News Ltd, that tenancy had ended in December 2020 and the property had been empty since March/April 2021. Paddington issued a claim for possession against Mr Rasool as a trespasser.

(In fact it turned out that Mr Rasool had made a previous injunction application for re-entry to the property, but did not turn up to a hearing, instead immediately making the out of hours ex parte application in this case, wihout any mention of the previous application).

In preparation for the return date, the Court had checked the CE file to see if Mr Rasool had filed a claim.

No claim had been filed, but rather more surprisingly, it turned out that Mr Rasool had made a further two (actually three) interim injunction applications for re-entry in 2021, for completely different properties with completely different owners.

During the course of the hearing over which I presided last week on 8 December 2021, a question arose as to whether Mr Rasool had issued a claim form as Julian Knowles J had required him to do. This led to my clerk searching the court CE file system in order to see whether a claim form had been issued. The answer that was revealed at that stage, and is still revealed by searches carried out this afternoon, is that it had not been. But, more significantly in the context of non-disclosure, the search revealed that there were other proceedings which had been begun by Mr Rasool during the course of this year. Further work that was carried out has revealed that there were two sets of proceedings in which Mr Rasool put in evidence and advanced a case for injunctive relief. That case. in both sets of proceedings, was based upon the occupation which he and his sister allegedly had of different premises but during the same period of time as the allegation, in these proceedings, that he was in occupation of Betula House.

The first set of proceedings – and again I will come back to this in the chronology in due course – is the Lonpane Investment case. Those are proceedings by Mr Rasool against Lonpane Investment Ltd. The case number is QB-2021-002928. The second proceedings are the proceedings concern Proud Honour Ltd. Those are proceedings by Mr Rasool with the case reference is QB-2021-002868.

In both of these applications, Mr Rasool submitted evidence to the effect that he and his sister were tenants of each property (one on Oxford Street, one in Mayfair), in 2021 and had been unlawfully evicted.

Last minute evidence from Mr Rasool for this hearing was that this was said in error and he had been applying for his sister and an unnamed cousin as tenants. This dd not go down well:

The explanations which he has provided, in my judgment, lack any conviction whatsoever. The witness statement in the Lonpane Investment case gives Mr Rasool’s address as 395 Oxford Street, asserts that he had been at that property since February 2000, and that he was now homeless. Mr Rasool’s latest witness statement indicates that none of this was actually the case.

The witness statement in the Proud Honour case gives Mr Rasool’s address as Flat 10, Bloomfield Court, Bourdon Street. It asserts that he was locked out after having been away from the property for 2 days, and that he had been at the property for 8 months, the tenancy having started in September 2020. He was now “being forced to sleep with friends and have been forced to be assisted by a nearby charity”. Mr Rasool’s latest witness statement indicates that none of this was actually the case. His case in the present proceedings is that, far from being made homeless or having to sleep with friends, he has been in occupation of the Betula House property since December 2019.

The fourth case had only just come to light. In that case, Mr Rasool had asserted he was the tenant of Flat 54, Princes Court, 88 Brompton Road, London and had been unlawfully evicted.

All the previous attempts to get an interim injunction had failed or were adjourned to be put on notice and with evidence to be filed and then not pursued. Mr Rasool did not attend subsequent hearings, though one of the property owners had sought an injunction to stop Mr Rasool approaching or entering the property.

Mr Rasool had, of course, not disclosed any of this information on the ex parte application in the present case, completely in breach of the duty of full and frank disclosure.

The injunction application was therefore dismissed. Given the evidence presented by Paddington Company One, and Mr Rasool’s lack of evidence and documents presented at the last minute with no provenance, the possession order was granted. There was no serious issue to be tried in relation to Mr Rasool’s assertion of a tenancy.

Costs to Paddington on the indemnity basis, and then:

I have to say, as you will have gathered from my judgment, that I am very concerned that the court should have been presented with a case by Mr Rasool alleging that he was living in this particular property for some time, in circumstances where he had made allegations in other cases that he was living in different properties at the same period of time. There is a question which arises in this case about whether the witness statements which were put in, supported by statements of truth, are such as to give rise to contempt proceedings. It is something that a judge can raise of his own motion, but he can also enlist the assistance of other parties or the party which has been successful. This seems to me to be something which I am going to invite you, Mr Gallivan, to consider with your clients, namely as to whether there should be contempt proceedings in this case. I am not saying there should be. There would have to be permission given by someone.

But this is not the end of the story. Mr Mohamed Rasool is one of the worst private landlords in England. He is well known to local authority housing enforcers in London, with a significant track record of unlicensed and dangerous HMOs, for example, and further example. He had the dubious distinction of being the first landlord against whom an Anti Social Behaviour injunction was obtained, to stop him from going near one of his properties where he had repeatedly harassed and attempted to illegally evict the tenants.

Now, he is also subject to a five year banning order, made on 17 January 2022, to come into effect in six months time. The First Tier Tribunal decision on the banning order is here, based on convictions for an unlicensed HMO, breach of HMO regulations, and breach of prohibition order.

But quite why Mohamed Rasool spent chunks of 2021 trying to obtain access to four different properties by alleging he was an illegally evicted tenant on the back of fictitious tenancies and occupation is a mystery. What would be the purpose?

Still, on top of the multiple housing related convictions, it appears that there might be contempt of court proceedings against him, if Paddington so decide.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

8 Comments

  1. Pip Moss

    Crikey!

    Reply
  2. Stephanie Mindel

    What would be the purpose….presumably, between the date of the ex parte application and the return date, an applicant could gain access to such a property, let it, possibly several times, and make off with multiple deposits and first month’s rent payments.

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      Maybe, but not his model. Plus property owner is alerted via this route.

      Reply
  3. Ben Reeve-Lewis

    In some senses this is a standard business model for bottom feeders, Safer Renting works with such people all the time. You dont have any property yourself, you just take over management control. Take rent from multiple tenants, on a rolling basis, dont pass it over to the owners and just keep going until the pressure gets too hot and then just abandon it. Do enough of these at the same time and the money stacks up very quickly. I’ve been involved with quite a few of his properties in the last few years. What sets him aside from his contemporaries is his focus and commitment. GIve him another 2 years and he will be either sunning it in the Bahamas or providing accommodation for local authority homelessness units as a legit firm.

    Reply
  4. James

    What an absolute shocker. A committal application is in order in order.

    Reply
  5. Ian Narbeth

    Any chance of prosecutions for attempting to pervert the course of justice?

    I am slightly surprised at Jacob J’s reticence: “This seems to me to be something which I am going to invite you, Mr Gallivan, to consider with your clients, namely as to whether there should be contempt proceedings in this case. I am not saying there should be. There would have to be permission given by someone.”

    Could Jacob J not have given permission on the spot or indeed made his own referral to the police? It is hard to conceive a clearer case of contempt of court.

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      Not perverting course of justice – that is interfering in criminal matters.

      Can’t give permission on an application that hasn’t been made.

      Contempt is civil, so no referral to the police.

      Jacob J could have raised contempt of his own motion. I suspect, given that other cases and documents were coming to light right up to (and including at) the hearing, that he considered it better for someone to get a grasp of the whole before making that decision.

      Reply
  6. Ben Reeve-Lewis

    I’m sorry but this is a case where the law cant keep up. We just about know with some certainty that Mohammed Ali Abbas Rasool might just be his real name. He doesnt own any assets you can pin him to, he has so many different addresses that none can be relied on. He runs a plethora of companies, both extant and defunct and all of them at business registration addresses rather than real ones. He launches legal proceedings that he doesnt attend, When called as a defendant he doesnt attend because he knows nobody can find him. He runs HMOs where every occupier is given the name of different landlords that might or might not be a company he runs,, real or dissolved. You can chase him with housing management breaches, HMO licensing breaches, PFEA breaches but what it really needs is for police and fraud investigation but they dont give a toss because in their world it’s landlord/tenant and therefore not serious.

    Sorry if my frustration shows but its been years now. He can be dented but not taken off the board at any form of housing law level and he is just one of many and these individuals are even providing accommodation for council homelessness units. Such is the desperation for accommodation, turned into an industry by the Localism Act.

    Rant over

    Reply

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