A dishonest landlord in Wembley has been hit with a bill of almost £40,000 after it was found he had crammed 24 people - including 10 children - into a single house.

Tilak Raj Sarna at first said he was innocent of the offence at Willesden Magistrates' Court but later pleaded guilty after being cross examined for two days.

Six of the tenants at the house - that was fit only for seven people - had also been living in a shed in the garden until it burnt down in October 2015.

The fire started while a child was asleep in the outhouse, and the blaze was said to be exacerbated by the number of people living in the small space.

The house was given a surprise inspection by Brent Council housing enforcement officers in January this year, who found seven families and 10 young children living there.

There were missing smoke alarms, overloaded electrical sockets and inadequate fire doors at the property.

The house in Bowrons Avenue was also found with an infestation of cockroaches, cold and damp rooms, overflowing bins outside and 'blatant disregard of basic fire safety measures'.

The house in Bowrons Road where 24 people were living

Brent Council 's leader member for housing, Councillor Harbi Farah, said: “This case underlines the necessity of our commitment to ensuring private tenants in our borough have safe, high quality accomodation.

“In situations like this, unscrupulous landlords are not only taking financial advantage of vulnerable tenants, they're also placing tenants' lives in danger.”

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Sarna, 87, of George V Avenue in Pinner , was fined a total of £33,000, ordered to pay costs of £6,420 and a £120 victim surcharge – a total of £39,540.

The unscrupulous landlord had been granted a licence by the council to house seven people at the address.

Some mess from the inside of the house

According to the council, all the tenants have now found alternative accommodation.

Deputy leader of Brent Council, Cllr Margaret McLennan, said: “Mr Sarna had house a family in the garden shed and had grossly overcrowded the two storey property, leaving tenants in an unsafe, damp and cockroach infested house while taking £3,700 off them each month for the privilege.

“As he had been granted a licence Mr Sarna knew exactly what was required of him, so we are very pleased that the court shared our view of the seriousness of the offences and imposed such severe penalties.”

Earlier this month a noisy neighbour in Harlesden was fined almost £1,400 at the same court for playing music too loud.