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.”