Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Landlord fined £1.4m for converting house to flats without planning permission

Out-Law News | 04 Oct 2012 | 4:01 pm | 1 min. read

A Norwich Crown Court judge has imposed a £1.4 million fine on a landlord under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) for converting a house in north-west London into 12 flats without planning permission.

The London Borough of Brent brought the proceedings after a two-year investigation into the landlord's actions. He had carried out the conversion without obtaining planning permission and subsequently failed to comply with an enforcement notice issued by the Council.

Local authorities can recover the proceeds from criminal activity in certain circumstances under the POCA. This applies where a person has been convicted for breaches of planning control. The legislation has been used previously in a handful of enforcement cases.

The amount of the fine was based on a calculation of the rent the landlord is expected to have received from tenants in the property. He was also ordered to pay £4,000 for breach of planning regulations and nearly £35,000 in legal costs.

The order is believed to be the highest confiscation order granted for a planning offence anywhere in the country, the Council has said. 37.5% of the money will go to the Council and the rest will go to HM Treasury and the court collection agency.

"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," said the Council's assistant director of planning and major projects, Chris Walker. "He ignored the council's notices and as a result, he profited hugely from this sub-standard accommodation."

The landlord has six months to pay the fine. If he fails to comply, he could face a 10 year prison sentence. The landlord has been placed under a restraint order to prevent him from disposing of his assets before he has paid the fine.

Earlier this year Brent Council also successfully took action under the POCA. In July a landlord was fined £300,000 for planning breaches after proceeding brought jointly by Brent and the London Borough of Harrow.