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Landlord hit with record £1.5m fine for flouting planning rules

A notorious rogue landlord who illegally built a number of tiny bedsits across North West London has been ordered to pay £1.5m or spend nine years in prison.

Vispasp Sarkari was handed the staggering fine after being found guilty of planning offences at Harrow Crown Court last Friday.

Sarkari, 56, of Hawthorne Avenue, Harrow, has raked in thousands of pounds over the past five years from tenants living in substandard box-room bedsits built without planning consent


The court heard that he had been cramming tenants into cramped and dangerous accommodation - charging them extortionate amounts in rent.

His criminal enterprise included one property in Brent illegally converted into eight substandard bedsits and four more similarly converted in Harrow. He defied all planning enforcement warnings issued by Brent and Harrow Councils.

Cllr Tom Miller, Brent Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “Slum landlords won't be tolerated - plain and simple. If you ignore planning laws or leave tenants to languish in poor conditions, then we will find you, we will take action in court, and we will win.

“Anyone we find flouting planning or exploiting renters will feel a deep hole in their pockets after we've taken them to task."

Sarkari was also separately fined £12,000 and ordered to pay both councils' costs in full. It's believed that he may have several further properties across the two boroughs - making him responsible for a significant proportion of illegal flat conversions and HMOs blighting North West London.

Cllr Keith Ferry, Harrow Council's cabinet member for planning, commented: “Justice means taking the ill-gotten gains off this slumlord millionaire. This is a man who thought he couldn't be stopped. He was wrong, and thanks to our joint work with Brent Council, Sarkari's criminal venture is finished.

“But he's not the only rackrent landlord out there, wrecking lives and ruining our boroughs by running illegal flats and HMOs. My message to the others is this: we'll never stop, we'll never give up, and when we catch you, we'll punish you too.”

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    The name says it all, these are the landlords that get us a bad name, and before the raciest card comes into into play i'm not raciest, i just tell it as it is.

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    If he was so notorious, why was he not stopped much earlier. Councils should focus on scum like this instead of going after decent landlords who haven't been told a smoke alarm is broken or tenants have allowed mould to take hold.

  • Amanda Elliott

    Correct the council on my back I’m a good landlord !! Sure that have a tick box on the wall ! Leave the bad ones alone and get a tick against me as they know il change the plug socket if requested !!! And take me to court for no reason wasting thousands of pounds wasting tax payers money

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    How did I guess his name wouldn't be something as mundane as John Smith?

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    It probably is and he's changed it to avoid the discrimination suffered by many white middle class males from all aspects of our public sector! Come to think of it, maybe that's why it was allowed to escalate to such a level?

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    You are missing the point He is providing a need. No one is forcing his tenants to live in his properties. The way to deal with this type of landlord is to improve competition not make people homeless. Which is better, a small room or a cardboard box on the streets? You do not deal with the shortage of supply by further reducing the supply. Do landlords want more competition? Of course not, most would rather sanctimoniously stand on the sidelines criticising those who do provide low-cost housing.

    The hypocrisy is if the same standards were applied, as are applied to private landlords to social housing hostels, many of these hostels would be shut down.

    Jim Haliburton The HMO Daddy


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