Planning Law Breaches:
A north-west London landlord has been ordered to pay over £700,000 for failing to comply with planning rules. Barnet Council in pursuing the debt has had the rental property prepossessed. The property is to be sold at auction to raise the funds. It will go under the hammer this week.
Landlord Saied Rahmdezfouli was refused planning permission in 2006 to convert a semi-detached house at 11 Quantock Gardens, Cricklewood, NW2, into nine flats.
However, Rahmdezfouli did the conversion without the council’s knowledge and without the necessary planning and building regulation consent. He subsequently rented out the flats which later proved to be below the standards required for HMOs in the 2004 Housing Act – it was unsafe and rooms were too small.
The record-breaking fine was the result of extended efforts on the part of council staff – a lengthy investigation followed by court proceedings. Rahmdezfouli was ordered to pay over £700,000 at Wood Green Crown Court back in September. However, as the fine remains unpaid and the house has now been repossessed.
The penalty breaks down as follows: paying back £555,954.49 rent generated from the house which amounts to criminal conduct, he will also have pay a £65,000 fine for the planning offences and £80,000 in legal costs.
If the money is not paid over by Mr Rahmdezfouli within three months he will face a prison sentence of five years and four months.
Leader of Barnet Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius, told the Hendon Times:
“I am delighted that after a lengthy legal battle, the justice system has supported us in making sure that anyone who flouts our planning laws is suitably punished.
“Planning permission rules exist to ensure everyone in our borough has a safe and healthy place to live, and we cannot allow anyone to breach these rules by providing substandard accommodation.
“We will always do our best to ensure that this illegal activity is stopped as soon as possible.”
Rahmdezfouli was served a planning enforcement notice against him back in March 2007 which was followed up by legal action. This gives some idea just how long these cases take and how difficult it is for councils to bring determined rogue landlords to book. Subsequent legislation in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 will make it far easier for councils to clamp down on these rogues. See: New Tenancy Laws Start Today
Mr Rahmdezfouli has made numerous court appearances over the years, while defiantly continuing to rent out the flats. The property has now been confiscated.
The council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) team carried out a detailed financial investigation to identify and calculate the criminal benefit Mr Rahmdezfouli had received from rental income under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Landlord receives massive fine… https://t.co/ERI0LfqLAB
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) December 9, 2016