A landlord has been ordered to pay back £739,263 in illicit earnings made renting out overcrowded properties in Brent following a prosecution brought forward by the council.
An investigation by Brent Council’s planning enforcement team revealed that Mohammed Medhi Ali was making illicit earnings by illegally renting properties as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and as undersized flats without gaining planning permission.
The council said the accommodation provided by Mr Ali was some of the worst residential accommodation that its officers had ever come across.
In April 2018, Mr Ali was found guilty of failing to comply with planning enforcement notices. The case was then referred to Harrow Crown Court for confiscation proceedings.
Last month the court ordered Mr Ali to pay back £739,233 of his illicit earnings. He was told he would face a prison term of five years and nine months if he did not pay the order in full within three months.
Brent Council said it believed that this is the largest such order for a planning breach made in the country so far this year.
Mr Ali was also ordered to pay Brent Council £30,000 to cover its legal costs in the long-running case.
One of the three properties in question, all of which were in Willesden, was subject to a similar legal case in 2014 when Mr Ali’s father, Salah Ali, was ordered to pay back £544,358.
Once the notice was complied with, the property was again converted to an HMO without planning permission.
Shama Tatler, lead member for regeneration, property and planning at Brent Council, said: “This is another huge win for Brent. The council will take robust action to prevent the creation of poor quality housing.
“This penalty sends a clear message that rogue landlords will not be allowed to get away with ignoring planning laws.
“The accommodation provided was some of the worst residential accommodation that officers have ever come across.
“Brent will not tolerate this type of behaviour, landlords providing such horrible conditions. Brent residents deserve better.”
Sentencing for the enforcement notice breaches is adjourned until 1 March 2021.