Southwark Council successfully prosecuted a London landlord who divided a London Bridge property into 20 cramped studios and bedsits, “putting profits before the quality of life of his tenants.”
Mr Trepel, aged 74 from Trinec in the Czech Republic, is the subject of London’s largest Proceeds of Crime (confiscation order) claim to-date for his illegal conversion of three flats within 2-4 London Bridge Street in 2010.
The council originally successfully prosecuted Trepel for this breach of the planning laws back in 2010, when he was fined and ordered to return the property back to its original condition.
But Trepel failed to comply despite further warnings and at the Inner London Crown Court on 17 April, 2019, he was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £35,000 costs for breaching a planning enforcement notice, plus an additional £1,000 fine from his company – No.1 (London) Ltd.
Of more consequence to Trepel however, Southwark Council, using a Proceeds of Crime confiscation order, achieved a record settlement figure of £1,118,601 which will have to be paid within the next three months, otherwise Trepel faces a seven year prison sentence.
The figure was based on a calculation that Trepel would have received £1.2.m gross in rent on his London Bridge Street properties since 2011.
Councillor Victoria Mills, Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance and Brexit, said:
“I hope this serves as a warning to any disreputable landlord operating in Southwark. This council will not stand by and let our residents live in cramped properties that are harmful to their health and happiness, and we will use every legal measure at our disposal to ensure homes are of a decent standard and landlords do not profit from the misery of their tenants.”
Under Proceeds of Crime Act rules most of the money will go to the government but the council will receive around £445,000 of the criminal benefit to re-invest in further enforcement and crime reduction initiatives.
The council has restrained assets belonging to both Trepel and his company to ensure that the confiscation orders will be satisfied.