A landlord in London who “illegally squashed” seven flats into a development that only had planning permission for six, has been ordered to pay £230,000 under a confiscation order.
Southwark Council said that, in addition, three of the flats had extra unauthorised bedrooms that added to “the already cramped and sub-standard conditions”.
The council found the size of six of the flats at the property in Walworth SE17 were below minimum standards “and they were so poorly designed that five had no dedicated storage space at all”.
In addition, the flats were let as temporary accommodation and short-term holiday lets. This was unauthorised and resulted in the loss of much needed permanent accommodation, Southwark said. “The constant coming and going of different parties resulted in noise and disturbance to local residents.”
The council prosecuted Highbrow Properties Limited and Director Mr Iftikhar Ahmed (54) of Mount Drive, Wembley.
Ahmed pleaded guilty and appeared before the Inner London Crown Court for sentencing and confiscation proceedings, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, on 28 April.
The council ordered Ahmed to demolish the unauthorised flats, or correct the development so that it met with the original planning permission. He was also told to stop using the properties for temporary accommodation.
Following the guilty pleas, the court agreed that Ahmed had illegally gained £230,000 in rent, as established by specialist financial investigators from Southwark’s Trading Standards team.
The court ordered Ahmed or the company to pay a proceeds of crime confiscation order of £230,000. He faces two years in prison if the confiscation order is not paid in three months.
In addition, Highbrow Properties Limited incurred fines and costs of £25,000, while Ahmed must pay fines and costs of £13,000.
Cllr Darren Merrill, Cabinet Member for a Safer, Cleaner Borough, said: “Everyone deserves a good quality home and space standards make sure that new homes are both good quality and a good size. This blatant attempt to shoehorn an extra flat and additional bedrooms, compromised the entire block. This court result serves as warning that planning control breaches will not be tolerated and supports the council in cracking down on those who try to benefit from renting illegal and sub-standard properties in Southwark.
“In addition to this work, I am also pushing for more powers to tackle low quality homes. Coupled with adequate funding, this could help us to ensure that quality housing is available to everyone in Southwark.”
The development is now in compliance with planning permission, Southwark said.