Trustee Property & InCityNow
Trustee Property a.k.a. InCityNow a.k.a. Oracle Estates took over the management of one of our properties at the end of 2017. The company comprised of Mohammed Sharif Miah (who prefers to go by the names “Sharif” and for some reason “Alex”) and another guy who I will call Matthew (not his real name), both of whom are from Oldham in Greater Manchester.
We dealt exclusively with Matthew at first, who seemed friendly and professional. And for over a year things were running without issue… but then suddenly and as it turned out, unfortunately, Matthew left the business.
Sharif continued to pay rent on time but in every other way was setting off alarm bells left, right and centre. By now we had also signed over another property to Trustee Property but Sharif was allowing insurance to lapse and council tax to go unpaid – which we had to chase him for repeatedly.
The inspection videos that we were supposed to receive once per month also stopped.
Trustee Property is dissolved
The bombshell came one day when he text to ask if we could send him our bank details as he had dissolved his company “on the advice of his accountant” and needed to pay us from a different account.
[…] please can you send us your bank details for [redacted] and the penthouse so we can transfer the monies the current bank is closed we decided to dissolve the company after advice from our accountants your contract will still be honoured under our new company name Incitynow Ltd (12436784) which is actually always been our trading name I will put everything on an email for your reassurance and I will get the videos you asked for next week hopefully by Wednesday and the business bank has not been sorted yet so will be coming from my account S Miah for this month thanks AlexSharif Miah, 28th of February 2020
He sent the message on the 28th of February, but when I checked I could see that Trustee Property was actually dissolved nearly a month earlier on the 4th of February.
With all the other warnings that he had set off over the last few weeks, dissolving the company that was contracted to manage our properties without any warning at all and leaving us completely exposed was the last straw.
Conveniently enough, this action also voided our contract as it was explicitly listed as a prohibited action. Sharif also failed to come up with an alternative contract within an alloted time, breaching his own terms a second time over.
7.2 This agreement may be terminated by the Owner after the initial fixed period by six months’ notice in writing to the Manager or immediately by notice in writing to the Manager if at any time;Trustee Property’s own contract with the important and relevant parts underlined
(a) The Manager shall in respect of an individual becomes bankrupt or in respect of a company goes into administration or liquidation (except for a voluntary liquidation for the purpose of reconstruction or amalgamation upon terms previously approved in writing by the Owner such approval not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed);
(b) The Manager shall commit a serious breach of the provisions of this agreement and shall not have remedied that breach to the Owner’s reasonable satisfaction within thirty days after the service of notice requiring it to be remedied.
We got out. We took back the properties and changed the locks. Sharif protested but it was too late as his own actions had voided the contract between us, and this and many other actions (or inactions) beforehand had destroyed our trust and faith in him.
As required by the contract (which was no longer valid anyway since the company no longer existed but nonetheless…), I informed Sharif in writing of our actions.
Despite the clear and present need for us to exit this arrangement with Sharif ASAP, I was keen to maintain an amicable relationship as he still had furniture at our properties that I wanted him to collect in good time.
With that in mind, I tried to put a positive spin on this by pointing out that I could actually be doing him a favour here by relieving him of his obligations when bookings for the properties would be drying up due to the Chinese virus.
His response seemed a little strange. He made no attempt to change my mind and no attempt to provide any kind of reassurance that his questionable behaviour would come to an end. Simply:
I would advise you not to change the locks without seeking professional independent legal advice thanks AlexSharif Miah, 15th March 2020
As I had in the original notification, I responded with a request that he confirm a date and time for us to meet up for him to collect his furniture and for me to collect the keys. Again he replied with a message that made little sense in this context:
It is a criminal offence for a private landlord to evict a tenant without following the correct legal steps for eviction. … It is also unlawful for a landlord to change the locks on the property himself. There are a number of things that a tenant can do if their landlord illegally evicts them from their propertySharif Miah, 15th March 2020
So I set him straight:
You’re not a tenant. We didn’t have a tenancy agreement – we had a company contract that was drawn up by yourselves. Tenancy laws do not apply to generic company contracts. And even if they did, our contract was null and void the day you decided to dissolve your company. The entity with which we had an agreement no longer exists so you have no legal right to the properties and just so you’re clear here, any attempt to gain entry will be pursued to the fullest extent under the law.Me, 15th March 2020
So, with that said let’s wrap this up as amicably as possible. The contents are all safe and will not be touched. I want to arrange a day to meet you at the properties so that you can collect them. Please let me know which day you’d like to meet.
He ranted and raved a little more but not with anything worth posting.
A surprise tenant
Three days later I received a call from Salford Council claiming that Sharif had a tenant on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) at one of the properties.
He hadn’t mentioned her once to me: not when we spoke on the phone as I was taking back the properties and not in any of the messages that were exchanged afterwards.
This claim seemed unrealistic as the property she was supposedly renting had Booking.com reviews on it from just a couple of months before, during a time she claimed to be living there. I confronted Sharif about these reviews and how they could exist if he’d had a tenant in the property since September. His response fit a familiar pattern of evasiveness and unhelpfulness:
Theres so many ways to make money […] I cant tell you everything I’m afraidSharif Miah, 18th March 2020
Also, while I was there changing the locks, there were no signs at all of someone living at the property – nothing in the fridge, nothing in the cupboards. However Salford Council stated that with a signed AST, I would have to let her back in.
Why had she taken 3 days to report that she couldn’t get into her property? Why had Sharif not mentioned her at all? This all seemed very strange and Salford Council agreed, but there was no way to prove that the AST hadn’t just been printed and signed that day.
After repeated attempts to get a straight answer out of Sharif, he eventually conceded for the first time that he had taken on a tenant:
As you’re aware when Matthew left it was a slow time and I had to still honour your rent which I didt what was best at timeSharif, 18th March 2020
Yes maybe I should have been upfront but due to the way you change the locks all of a sudden I had a dilemma with the tenant
One of our contract’s terms was that Sharif was meant to provide me with details of all who stayed at the property when they moved in, which means I should have known about this tenant back in September 2019. There was no “maybe” about it – it was a key requirement of the contract.
3.1 During the continuance of its appointment the Manager shall –Trustee Property’s own contract with the important and relevant parts underlined
(a) Observe the terms of the Insurance Policy so far as they relate to the Property. And if required, to notify the Owner via email the names of the Property’s occupants with move in/out dates, in order to comply with the Owner’s Insurance Policy.
Of course, Sharif had provided no such information. And when I repeatedly asked Sharif for belated information on this tenant, he continued to be evasive:
I dont want to disclose much please ask yourself we do have to be carefull with data protectionSharif, 29th March 2020
Sharif’s tenant causes more problems
A silver lining (or so we thought), was that the AST was due to expire in just 14 days’ time, and this “tenant” of Sharif’s assured us that she would be moving out of the property on or even before that date.
On the date she was due to move out, the tenant claimed that she had contracted Covid-19 and had been told by the NHS to stay put in our property, but that she could not pay rent as she had already paid rent and a deposit to a landlord who she could no longer contact.
Initially I was sympathetic and was willing to help. I contacted Sharif and asked him if he could set aside our differences and leave his furniture in the property for a couple of weeks for the sake of his tenant, and I offered her deferred and reduced rent.
A lack of any gratitude nor interest in taking me up on the rent offers quickly changed my mind though, and I began to suspect this was all a game.
The tenant refused to answer the phone and only replied to messages several hours after they were read; often days later. And when she did reply, her responses were also evasive and non-committal.
I decided to obtain a Section 21 notice just in case while reluctantly taking her at her word that she would be moving out once her isolation was over in 2 weeks.
Her isolation ended on April 10th and the tenant then claimed that she couldn’t move out and couldn’t pay her rent because she had paid a month’s rent and a deposit to a mystery landlord who had suddenly become unreachable. She said that she would pay her rent “when she could”.
When asked why she didn’t go to the police about this guy who had apparently disappeared with her money, the tenant claimed that she had done so but that the police had said it was a civil matter rather than a criminal one.
She also claimed that she had reported the issue to her bank, who had said they would refund her money in 21 days.
I gave her the benefit of the doubt and periodically asked for updates on the situation. The tenant showed little interest in pursuing the matter against this mystery landlord and if I pressed her on why she was willing for him to get away with this, she would suggest that I was harassing her which, due to the ridiculous nature of accusing a landlord of harassment after he asks his tenant why she isn’t pursuing a case of fraud so that she can lift herself out of rent arrears, rang further alarm bells.
Another thing that was odd here was that the tenant claimed to be discussing everything with Sharif who had expressed glee via text message that she continued to stay at the property without paying rent, which led me to suspect that they may have been in this together…
Its ok my furniture not going anywhere anytime soon and with you the costs are just gone keep going up and up blessing in disguise for you when I dissolved the company you said dont look like it from where I’m standing blessing for me 😂Sharif Miah displaying obvious delight at the situation he caused, 9th April 2020
The 1983 Representation of the People Act
Sharif posted to social media on the 23rd of May 2019 – the day of the European Elections – advising people to get out and vote for the Conservatives. Included with that post was a photo of his marked ballot paper.
Rules around photography and publishing in elections are covered by the 1983 Representation of the People Act which states:
No person shall, in the case of an election to which this section applies, publish before the poll is closed
(a) any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by voters after they have voted, orThe 1983 Representation of the People Act clearly states that posts such as Sharif’s are illegal.
(b) any forecast as to the result of the election which is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information so given.
This Act allows for a prison term of up to six months or a fine of up to £5,000, and if a member of the Conservative party was found guilty of such an offence then it could bring the party into disrepute.
The different faces of Sharif Miah
With regards to Sharif as a person, he seems to have two personas. Publicly, he’s a wholesome Conservative and a devout Muslim. His Facebook profile (here’s a screenshot in case he changes his privacy settings) is full of content that promotes positive Conservative and Muslim values. He stood for the Conservative party in the Coldhurst Ward in 2010. He’s involved with the Conservative Friends of Bangladesh and he fundraises for Muslim causes.
But these are all very public displays that seem at odds with how he behaves in private over WhatsApp.
And Sharif’s level of success doesn’t quite seem to match his ambition. He came last in Coldhurst with just 593 votes. His fundraising for Oldham’s Muslim Centre raised £0 out of a target of £200. And given his frequent boasts that he drives a Bentley, you’d expect to see at least one of his companies being successful but unfortunately that’s not the case.
Just remember what I said not everyone can afford to drive a Bentley 😂Sharif Miah, 29th March 2020
And in late 2017, Sharif was refused permission by the Financial Conduct Authority to perform certain regulated services.
Could this explain why so many of his companies are dissolved? Or were they all dissolved “on the advice of his accountant” as well?