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Record fine issued to London landlord over planning offence

A landlord who built extensions and converted them into flats and bedsits all without planning permission has been given a record fine after a council took her to court.

Two enforcement notices were issued to  Orofena St John in 2017 requiring that the extensions be demolished and the premises be converted back to one house. 

Both orders were ignored and Brent council in London claims it had no option other than to take the matter to court. 


The landlord was convicted of breaching these notices in 2019 and the matter was then referred to Harrow Crown Court under the Proceeds of Crime Act. 

During the proceedings it was revealed that St John was also in breach of another enforcement notice issued to a separate property. This had similarly been illegally converted into two homes, with rooms being rented out to multiple students on a short term basis without permission. 

St John was ordered to pay £111,582.57 for the income received from illegally renting the properties to tenants for a profit. In addition she was fined £18,000 in council legal costs and £15,000 for the breach of the notices. 

The penalty is the largest secured this year by the council.

A spokesperson for Brent council says: “This is a significant win for Brent. The council is committed to taking robust action to prevent the creation of substandard, poor-quality housing and badly designed and ugly extensions. 

“The bottom line is that we will hold people to account who break planning laws, and create unlawful developments. 

“This penalty sends a clear message that people will not be allowed to get away with ignoring planning laws and renting out properties illegally.

“These laws are in place to protect our residents from being exploited in inferior accommodation and to ensure that Brent’s environment is a great place for everyone to live.”

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  • George Dawes

    Fair enough , without planning laws there'd be anarchy


    with planning laws there is anarchy

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    Agreed Anarchy without planning permission. Anarchy with planning permission. Suppose you get Planning to convert a house into 2 Flats it will cost you several thousands before you do a stroke, plus £2’000 per Flat = £4’000. up front to Sadiq Khan Mayor of London because he said so and the charge is put on the property straight away before you even get a chance to pay to make sure you pay, penalty for doing the work but he has a nice name for it. £18k legal fee ?. The article didn’t tell us whether income tax had been paid on the income or not. Planning they grant in Brent is a disgrace, high rise in Alperton. Wembley shocking take a look.
    The Council is certainly sending a clear message to everyone, don’t do anything and you won’t be fined. Go on Benefits and don’t be getting into trouble.


    I have no idea what your on about

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    The real message from Brent is that they are there to take your equity. Look at the result Landlord £145k bill. Where does that money go? Now only one property to let for the few instead of multiple providing a roof over the many!
    Note to landlords don’t rent in Brent


    So you think people should be able to build what they want any way they want ?

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    As George says we’ll own nothing and they will be happy.
    Unfortunately that will be short lived we will be back to 2008 with a bang, all the pointers are there, look around you not
    looking good, fining LL’s unjustly solves nothing just causes loss of confidence with only one outcome collapse. What’s happening in China and Evergrande building an Economy on debt unsustainable billions in debt, knocking down loads of half finished high rise Flats because no money to finish them. Don’t ask us to bail out the Banks again after last time, now in opposition to their customers some cheek.

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    Once again, sadly, there is a lot of defence of a landlord who has broken the law. What about the neighbours for what sounds like a large extension and the appearance of unregulated HMOs next door. I wouldn't want it for sure. The penalty of losing the profit made is there as a disincentive, as it should be. As has been pointed out on previous articles, if the fines are too low it is economic to carry on and break the law because the profit outweighs the fine. As a law abiding landlord I want the rogues to be weeded out so perhaps we can legitimately make the case that we are not all like that. IMHO


    Totally agree Emily. Supporting a rogue landlord is not soething we should be seen doing!
    We are portrayed as rogues by the media and government so we need to be seen as responsible and respectable law abiding citizens iof we are ever to change the way we are perceived.

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    Emily. Fair enough if it was a rogue LL but I don’t know that, people are convicted every day for any amount of breaches in any walk of life. I don’t see them being automatically labelled as Rogues. Well you say it sounds like a big extension no need to judge it like that, the photos of the property are splashed all over media so you can see it’s a normal semi-detached with side and rear extensions like dozens of others locally in Wembley planning permission or not, it certainly no monstrosity like some of the
    one the Council have given permission for, that said it should have had permission but that don’t make it look any worse. Regarding the fine being too low there is no such thing any fine is too much you seem be be under the illusion that there a gravy train out here, do the figures, try buying a property pay the Mortgage, pay for all the costs that has been loaded on in recent years DEICR, Gas, HOW TO RENT, RIGHT TO RENT
    Deposit debacle, Section 24, etc I won’t bore you with the list, just add Licensing, pay maintenance, absorb fees, pay for furniture & white goods, Contracts, Insurance, Accountancy, all the incidentals, maybe 40% tax on the remnants. Where’s the honey pot just give us a Penalty (large) on top for good measure for being so stupid to put a roof over people’s heads to live in comfort, at no cost whatsoever for Government all the finance and labour off our own backs, maybe better leave them on the Streets everyone so thankless. Sorry Emily for the rant but its true, nothing personal I tell it how it is,
    Good afternoon.


    What a load of rubbish, my Landlord has paid a letting agent but apart from that almost nothing in years, ive spent loads of my money getting the place ship shape, why because my rent is a bargain, but landlord or no landlord you cant just build what you like when you like, they had ample warning not to build the extension or take it down they did neither

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    It’s very sad really whatever the rights & wrongs are, looks like Council dug their heels in. Shouldn’t have done it without permission, still not out of keeping or out of place in any way. The one next door is done as well probably with permission but don’t know that, they are a pair of good size 2 story’s semi detached houses in quite remote road. I can well understand why she didn’t comply with the 2017 order to demolish, it’s was really over the top if they had said up grade to comply would have made a great deal more sense and an opportunity to comply, what was on offer was unreasonable and couldn’t be complied with resulting in the current situation. Anyone that knows about buildings wouldn’t come to that conclusion, whether from appearance or structural, not claiming to be an expert but I was a Registered member of NHBC for 20 years from 1974 on before I gave up that side of things. It’s sacrilege and a waste of resources to go knocking it down putting the now structure out of balance and incongruous with the other semi, Its more a case about Council shown us who’s boss but we knew that already, a very demoralising and unhelpful situation…


    hardly if you let her do that then everyone would just built whatever they like, were a 1st world nation not some tin pot backwater

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    David, I agree and repeatedly said she should have had Planning Permission. However, we are where we are and the building works was done many years ago. I have no doubt planning permission for this shape and size would have been granted anyway, its stepped in a meter at side first floor level, it’s also set back some 2 metres from front where only I metre or half metre is usually required but many breach this one. There are several thousands of illegal back garden Alley Flats in West London which is totally ridiculous turning the place into a shanty town, it drives me hopping mad with their rubbish planked everywhere. This one is not like that. I am not singing her praises or sticking up for her or know anything about the lady but believe in fairness, common sense and don’t like wasting resources. I thank you for being a good Tenant, yet some Tenants have the idea that all the LL has to do is use an Agent & the money rolls in, this one is lost on the Authorities as well, in that case why aren’t you a LL, a small fact is omitted here the Property has to be bought and paid for or is it acquired for free, certainly no thought being given LL’s hundreds of thousands of pounds commitment, perhaps if regulators & Councils hadn’t burdened LL’s so much the money could be better spent on improving the property instead of them draining the life blood out of the business.


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