A landlord who hid families in windowless rooms after claiming to a council that he had complied with an enforcement notice has been fined £25,000 and ordered to pay a further £266,177 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Judge Paul Dugdale, sitting at Reading Crown Court, also sentenced Talwinder Singh, 57 of Middlegreen Road, Langley, to a 15-month prison term, suspended for 18 months.
Mr Singh was refused planning permission to build a block of six flats but went ahead and built them in Waterbeach Road, Manor Park, Slough.
Slough Borough Council said that despite being served with a planning enforcement notice in September 2010 the defendant rented out the six flats to tenants.
However, Mr Singh claimed the property had been returned to a single dwelling in line with the enforcement notice and informed the council’s Building Control and Council Tax Departments.
“In a bid to keep up the deception Mr Singh installed temporary kitchens in the illegal flats which would be dismantled and removed when council officers were set to visit as well as a door to the attic being boarded up. He also removed windows on the top floor attic flats to give the impression the rooms were not being rented out leaving tenants, with children, without any natural light,” Slough said.
“He also charged tenants an additional fee for council tax despite paying Slough Borough Council for only the one property he had declared.”
Mr Singh admitted two charges of failure to comply with an enforcement notice between December 2011 and December 2017, under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and dishonestly making a false representation in December 2012, contrary to the Fraud Act 2006, intending to make a gain for himself and /or cause a loss to Slough Borough Council.
The council was awarded £18,826 in compensation for lost council tax and £23,130 in prosecution costs during the hearing on 21 March 21.
Mr Singh was also ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work over 12 months. All monies will have to be paid within three months or he will face up to 30 months in jail.
Neil Wilcox, Director of Finance and Resources at Slough, said the successful prosecution had been as a result of work conducted by the council’s Planning and Corporate Fraud Teams, who provided evidence of the various tenancies, rent collection and council tax evasion.
He said: “This successful prosecution is a result of a thorough and painstaking investigation by the council’s Fraud Team and has led to the recovery of a significant amount of lost council tax.”
Mr Singh now has to return the flats to the permitted one or two properties as per the original planning consent.