Landlords and traders who converted industrial units into shops without planning permission have to pay more than £100,000 in fines and costs.
Leicester Crown Court heard Kulbir Khakh, 51 and his wife Satbir, 46, had paid nearly £560,000 for the units but could not let them, and so opened them as shops.
The city council refused to give retrospective planning permission and ordered them to stop trading, but they ignored enforcement notices.
They admitted the offence along with four traders.
The Khakhs were fined £30,000, ordered to pay £8,000 costs and lost £6,558 confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Dalbir Singh, 55, and Jatinder Singh, 49, who leased one unit as the Maharaja Supermarket, were each fined £2,500 and were ordered to pay £4,000 costs. Both had £8,400 confiscated by the court.
Subash Khunti, 38, who leased another unit as Greens DIY, was fined £2,500, must pay £4,000 costs and had £11,345 confiscated.
Reshma Patel, 37, who sublet a carpet and flooring shop in another unit, was fined £2,500 must pay £4,000 costs and had £6,000 confiscated. His landlord was sentenced at a previous hearing and was fined £5,000.
The case split opinion in the city. The Khakhs and their tenants were supported by two councillors and Leicester East MP Keith Vaz.
When the hearing had finished, a council spokesman said: “We look at issues such as the future size and scale of local shopping centres citywide to ensure any expansion is balanced and sustainable.
“In this case, they set themselves up without any permission. We have taken note of the views of the local community and the traders and will consider them when we release a new local plan for the neighbourhood.”
The traders told the court that they had each invested significant sums in their businesses and that they thought they would win the case due to public support.