A rogue landlord who rented out squalid flats, which breached council planning laws and failed to meet basic living standards, has been ordered to pay out almost £339,000.
Nihal Seneviratne, 59, of Kings Garden, West End Lane, West Hampstead, and his company, NSV Management Ltd, were convicted this week for illegally turning a former hotel, in Nicoll Road, Harlesden, into 26 squalid studio flats six years ago.
Seneviratne was handed the huge fine after her case was brought before Harrow Crown Court by Brent Council on Tuesday.
Harrow Crown Court issued a £300,650 confiscation order to Seneviratne's company under the Proceeds of Crime Act, and was also ordered to pay £20,000 in fines as well as £18,268 to cover Brent Council’s costs.
In March 2012, Seneviratne ignored a planning enforcement notice issued to him by Brent council and went on to con more than 100 vulnerable tenants out of thousands of pounds.
The minimum size requirement for a studio flat in London is 37sqm, and yet Seneviratne charged rent for the poorly insulated flats each measuring between 9sqm and 20sqm, which failed to meet basic living standards.
There was also an issue with the poor maintenance of the properties as well the fact that the tenants were living in insanitary conditions.
Cllr Harbi Farah, cabinet member for housing and welfare reform, said: “Mr Seneviratne's illegal behaviour resulted in many tenants enduring atrocious conditions, which were making their lives a misery.
“The outcome of this long case is a victory against slum landlords who exploit vulnerable residents for a profit. Brent Council will make sure that rogue landlords will not benefit in any way from their crimes.”
Seneviratne’s actions were a “a clear and flagrant breach of planning law” according to the judge, who gave the landlord three months to pay the confiscation order in full, which will be distributed between the government, the courts and the council.
Cllr Tom Miller, cabinet member for stronger communities, commented: “These flats didn't come close to meeting minimum standards required under planning policy.
“Rogue landlords who contravene the planning rules can expect robust action to be taken against them.”