Norwich Crown Court has this month reached a decision on a case concerning a landlord in Brent, London who converted a house into 12 flats without the appropriate planning consent and then failed to comply with a local government enforcement notice. The court has ordered payment of an equivalent record sum total of over £1.4m under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
This figure breaks down into a £4000 fine for breaching planning regulations, almost £35,000 worth of legal costs and a confiscation order of £1.438m. The orders included a restraining order, which prevents the defendant, a Mr Salah Ali, from disposing of the assets before paying the monies due.
The largest of these sums, the confiscation order, was based on a calculation of the rent the defendant is expected to have received from tenants who lived in the property and is reportedly the highest sum ever ordered for a planning offence anywhere in the country.
Brent Council has reputedly indicated that 37.5% of the money will go to the Council and the rest will go to HM Treasury and the court collection agency.
The Council’s Assistant Director of Planning and Major Projects, Chris Walker, is reported to have said:
“This landlord ignored planning rules designed to ensure that the quality of accommodation in the borough is maintained and that the environment for surrounding residents is protected. He ignored the council’s notices and as a result, he profited hugely from this sub-standard accommodation.”
The Judge presiding over Norwich Crown Court also added that Mr Ali would have to pay up within six months or face a ten-year prison sentence.