A solicitor who made more than £11,000 sub-letting his council flat has been struck off the roll by the tribunal.
Rahand Raza, admitted in 2015, was found to have accepted 30 rent payments of £650 a month for the property in Lewisham, London, with the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal saying there was evidence he planned and organised the operation.
Raza had asked the tribunal to let him continue in the profession, saying the flat had been sub-let without his knowledge to someone who threatened to then report him to the landlord, social housing provider Lewisham Homes. But the tribunal rejected this argument, saying that if Raza was effectively the victim of a trespasser then he would have welcomed help in having him removed.
The judgment said: ‘The inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the fact that [he] had not wanted the landlord informed [he] was deriving a benefit from the arrangement namely rent money and the retention of his tenancy.’
It was heard that payments were made direct to him via bank transfer, and he used some of this money to make improvements to the property.
Raza, who turns 42 this year, was a trainee solicitor with Birmingham firm Hanif & Co until April 2015 and then a solicitor at UK & Co Solicitors. He has continued to practise free from any conditions on his practising certificate.
In the South East London Magistrates’ Court in May 2018, Raza pleaded guilty to dishonesty, and in breach of an express or implied term of tenancy, sub-letting part of the property without the landlord’s written consent. He was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay almost £3,500 compensation to the landlord. He unsuccessfully appealed the sentence at Croydon Crown Court last year.
At a hearing in February, the tribunal heard details (redacted in the judgment) about medical issues. The tribunal observed Raza had experienced serious health problems, but noted there were also long periods when he was able to study, qualify as a solicitor and then practise. He therefore had opportunities to reflect on his conduct. He was struck off and ordered to pay around £2,500 costs.