A RESTAURANT owner who allowed people to live in squalid conditions has been fined £3,000 after flouting an order banning him from housing tenants.

Mohammed Nazim Uddin, of New Jeera Restaurant, in Northgate, Darlington, was prosecuted after Darlington Borough Council found several people in dangerous living quarters above and below the commercial premises during three separate visits.

Uddin was given an emergency prohibition order barring him from keeping tenants in May 2011, after private sector housing officers from the authority found the property had inadequate fire safety protection.

Officers returned to the address again on April 27 and November 16 this year, and found people were still illegally living at the property.

On their last visit, police had to be called to the premises to protect council officers as they carried out an inspection.

Uddin was found guilty and fined in his absence at Darlington Magistrates’ Court, with magistrates taking into account his repeated failure to comply with the council order.

Councillor Chris McEwan, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and policy, welcomed the decision, and said it proved the authority was committed to stopping landlords from exploiting tenants.

He said: “We want to send out very strong message to people who think it is fine to put lives at risk by allowing the occupation of dangerous and unsuitable premises.

“It is not acceptable and we will take action against those who ignore our warnings.”