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Landlord ordered to repay almost £750,000 in “illicit earnings”

A Crown Court judge has ordered a landlord to pay back almost £750,000 in illicit earnings made from overcrowded properties in London. 

It is believed to be the largest such order for a planning breach made anywhere in the country so far this year.

The order was made against Mohammed Mehdi Ali of High Road Willesden, following a prosecution brought by Brent council.


Ali was told by the court that he would face a prison term of five years and nine months if he did not pay the order in full within three months.

He was found guilty of failing to comply with planning enforcement notices in April 2018 at Willesden Magistrates Court, after investigations by Brent’s planning enforcement team.  

The case was then referred to Harrow Crown Court for confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. 

A probe carried out by Brent’s financial investigators and Brent’s planning enforcement officers revealed the extent of the number of illegal dwellings created and the illicit earnings made by illegally renting out the properties, which were owned by Ali and his father. 


The properties were used as HMOs and, in the words of the council, “as undersized flats.”

Ali was also ordered to pay Brent council £30,000.00 to cover its legal costs in the long-running case.

A council spokesperson says: “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.”

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    Mohammed Mehdi Ali will be back next week, fresh from declaring bankruptcy, as Ali Mehdi Mohammed. Only Brent Council is too busy being PC, to recognise the usual tricks.

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    Interesting prediction and would not come as a shock if it were to happen. The other big point why has this taken 3 years to sort out. Something clearly needs to change, whether Council procedures or the system as a whole.

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    It's amazing how these types of proceedings are announced with a flourish as a great success. Success would've been stopping this LL long before he had raked in £750K!

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    That was the whole idea let it run up so that the council can seize it all. They are not interested in helping people have a roof over their head.
    Licencing helps them with more powers to seize

  • Yehuda Levhar

    Y .Levhar
    Hello, all you landlords and colleagues.
    I am in the same position as the guy who has been found guilty and ordered to pay £750,000. Now the Brent Council are claiming from me £560,000. It looks to me that as Mr JAHAN KHAN is right “That was the whole idea let it run up so that the council can seize it all. They are not interested in helping people have a roof over their heads.
    Licencing helps them with more powers to seize”. If a number of landlords in the same position would approach me and provide some more evidence. To Brent Council, then we might have a strong case to prosecute Brent Council purposely waiting to catch us up and to extract as much money as possible, as Mr JAHAN KHAN commented. Making all of us criminals. If we have enough evidence to prosecute to Brent Council for extortion.

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    I believe what is missing from the above is it is not that Mr Ali had created HMOs but he had ignored an enforcement order. The crime was not to create HMOs. If Mr Ali had ceased letting the HMOs when the enforcement order came into effect he would not have been fined or had a repayment order..

    As for the sanctimonious remarks made by the commentators so far where are Mr Ali's tenants going to live? Something is better than a cardboard box. If the council were concerned about the tenants why did they not spend the £20,000 they spent on prosecuting Mr Ali on improving Mr Ali's properties and charged Mr Ali instead of letting the tenants live in allegedly poor conditions for years then have nowhere else to live. Not everyone can afford £2200 per calendar month for a flat in Brent and as for the council spokesperson has he looked at his own council housing? I suspect he will find some shocking housing there.

    Why Mr Ali carried on I do not know as I do not know the facts of the case . It could be that the council led him to believe that the enforcement order would not be actioned or he had very poor advice.

    Whether a HMO needs planning is a grey area and a lot is down to the discretion of the council. Very few HMO landlords appreciate this, they are only operating because the council have decided not to enforce .

    It is all a game I have had 12 enforcement actions brought against me and been successful in defending 9 1/2. You cannot ignore the council you must follow the rules of the game and never let the ball drop. Councils do not like to lose cases and often heads will roll within the council if they do lose.

    Mr Levhar you are I believe going about it the wrong way. For a start if you have had an enforcement order against you you MUST STOP letting the property or properties and keep the council informed that this is what you're trying to do.

    If enforcement has not been taken then you must be prepared to defend and getting good advice is important. I am happy to share my experience with you . Defending an enforcement action is a bit of a lottery and very much depends on the inspector handling the appeal. The problem is some landlords are tight and lazy, they do not get the proper legal advice and so pay the consequences.

    The proceeds of crime act was only meant to apply to serious crimes such as drug dealing not technical breaches of planning . So far to my knowledge no landlord has ever challenged a rent repayment order .

    To sum up Mr Levhar do not waste your time trying to prosecute the council or expect any landlord to join you, you are on your own apart from as far as I know my offer of help. Be prepared to put in a robust defence to any enforcement action. Do not hope your council will ignore you if you ignore them.

    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO daddy

  • Yehuda Levhar

    Hello, all you landlords and colleagues.
    I will try to put some background to the enforcement notice.
    Brent Council purposely led me to believe that the enforcement notice had been abandoned.
    There were seven flats, all registered for council tax for the last 19 months before I sold the property.
    Representatives of Brent Council came to the property on three occasions to check if there was HMO, which there was not. The flats were never registered as HMO Brent Council took no action for seven years.
    Brent Council took action only when I put the property for auction seven years later, from the date when the enforcement notice came into effect.
    Brent Council purposely waited for seven years, so I accumulated as much as possible rent in 7 years to maximise their claim.
    They were claiming for four years, £275,000, and after I have pleaded guilty, they have now gone back to 7 years and claimed £515,900.00.
    After Brent Council filed the restraining order, I offered to settle on two occasions out-of-court for £100,000. They have refused. Now they are asking in the region of £515,900.00 plus costs. They are happy to settle out-of-court when the figure is £515,900.00.
    Is it an abuse of process, corruption or blackmail?
    Can anyone suggest anything? How can I upload photographs of the accommodation I have provided?

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    Yehuda this is something for a specialised planning lawyer to look at. It'll probably cost you a few thousand to get an opinion do not rely on any lawyer it has to be a specialist

  • Yehuda Levhar

    Dear Jim. Your suggestion not to get a lawyer or a barrister is absolutely right. I have employed a criminal barrister since I am a criminal providing good accommodation at a good standard. The barrister messed it all up and made it worse, at a cost of £32,000, you might laugh, but I am considering suing the barrister for negligence.

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    Hi Yehuda yes I've also been there and been done over by the legal profession. Just like builders having a bad one doesn't stop you getting another one because you will have to if you wish to survive . Unless your barrister was a planning barrister I don't think he would be much use for your case .

    Unfortunately even though you are employing an expert you cannot leave it down to them you need to understand what the law is and tell your lawyer and make sure they follow through. The same seems to apply with regards accountants.
    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO Daddy

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    Agreed Jim I've been stitched up by solicitors in the past, they are no different to any other trade.


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