Westminster City Council has secured its highest ever penalty for a planning offence, in a case where a landlord divided his three-bedroom home into eight flats without permission.
The defendant, Farook Owadally, was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay a confiscation order of £400,000. He was also ordered to pay £40,000 in costs.
The council said Owadally had ignored warnings from its planning team for more than seven years, with enforcement notices dating back to 2012.
He had illegally converted the basement, ground, first, second and third floors of his Maida Vale property, charging more than £1,000 per month in rent for each of the flats which, the council said, were in most cases simply a small room.
“The safety of those living in the illegal flats was a driving force behind the council’s prosecution as several did not meet the minimum size requirement of 37sqm for new one-bedroom flats. One was just 18 sqm,” Westminster said.
Cllr Richard Beddoe, Cabinet Member for Place Shaping and Planning, said: “Unfortunately this is a straightforward case of the law catching up with an unscrupulous person.
“Our planning teams aren’t just ticking boxes and filling in forms for fun – we have planning rules for a reason, to make sure housing is fit for purpose and safe.”
Owadally has been given three months to pay the confiscation order, and six months to pay costs and fines to the courts.