Reading Crown Court has sentenced a Langley landlord to a suspended prison term and ordered him to pay over £300,000 for costs and compensation.
Talwinder Singh built a block of flats in Slough, even though his planning application had been refused. He was served with a planning enforcement notice in September 2010.
Mr Singh claimed that he had complied with the enforcement notice and that the building had been returned to a single dwelling. However, he went on to let six of the flats to unsuspecting tenants after installing temporary kitchens, boarding up an attic door and removing top floor windows in order to hide his deception. The kitchens would be removed when council officers were due to visit and the inhabited attic rooms were now windowless.
He told Slough Borough Council’s building control and council departments that he had complied with the enforcement notice and returned the building to a singe dwelling, but charged his tenants a fee for the council tax.
Mr Singh admitted two charges that between December 2011 and December 2017 he had failed to comply with an enforcement notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, that, contrary to the Fraud Act 2006, he had dishonestly made a false representation in December 2012 with the intention of making financial gain and a loss to Slough Borough Council.
At the hearing in March 2019, Judge Paul Dugdale sentenced Mr Singh to a fifteen month prison term, which was suspended for 18 months, and 200 hours of unpaid work over twelve months. He was also ordered to pay a £25,000 fine and £266,177 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Slough Council was compensated with £18,826 in lost council tax as well as prosecution costs of £23,130. Should Mr Singh fail to pay as ordered within three months he will face a prison term of up to 30 months.
Slough Borough Council’s director of finance and resources, Neil Wilcox, said: “This successful prosecution is a result of a thorough and painstaking investigation by the council’s Fraud Team and has lead to the recovery of a significant amount of lost council tax.
“Singh told the tenants he was paying their council tax when it actually went directly into his pocket. He was prepared to inconvenience tenants, some of whom had young children, by removing evidence from the flats and making them go without kitchen facilities, in an attempt to defraud the council.”
Mr Singh must now return the flats to the one or two dwellings that were permitted under the original planning consent.
If you’re buying a property that has been altered by previous occupants, a Chartered Surveyor will check that the work complies with building regulations and has been carried out in conjunction with any planning conditions.