‘Boxroom’ landlord ordered to pay record penalty of £1.5m or go to prison for nine years

A landlord has been ordered by a judge to pay a record-breaking penalty of almost £1.5m – or spend nine years behind bars.

The landlord, Vispasp Sarkari, flouted planning laws across the London boroughs of Brent and Harrow, taking in thousands from tenants living in tiny flats no larger than boxrooms, and built or converted illegally.

The two councils prosecuted Sarkari after he defied enforcement warnings.

At Harrow Crown Court , Judge Wood described the breaches as a “flagrant abuse” of planning legislation.

As well as the huge confiscation penalty, Sarkari was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay both councils’ costs.

In addition, Brent Council secured a restraint order against Sarkaria, meaning he cannot dispose of his assets before the order is paid in full.

If he does not pay up, then the council can force the sale of his properties.

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  1. smile please

    I think this shows why the public should not be allowed to rent property themselves. It should be law to use a letting agent.

    1. LandlordsandLetting

      What nonsense.

      1. CountryLass

        Not necessarily that they need to be managed, but there should be something where either a Landlord has to get a letting Agent to visit the property to make sure it is compliant, protect the deposit and draw up the Tenancy agreement, or Landlords who want to do it privately should be forced to register and be held to the same standards and penalties as we are.

        It is the only way to get rid of rogue landlords. If a landlord/agent doesn’t have a registration number then don’t deal with them. It’s that simple. Would you use a gas engineer that didn’t have CORGI/GasSafe registration? Not if you are a fan of life, no! There may be some great unregistered ones out there, but chances are not good…

        1. qweasdzxc

          Being a registered agent is no guarantee of competence. My friend (a private landlord) rented a house for him and his wife to live in whilst there home was being extended and the agent made the following mistakes:

          1) He has no AST agreement so used the one my friend provided – the fixed term was set to what my friend wanted rather than what the landlord wanted (7 months rather than 6).

          2) He failed to provide the gas safety certificate

          3) He failed to provide the How to Rent booklet

          4) He failed to provide the EPC

          5) He did protect the deposit, but after about 45 days when my friend asked him about it

          6) He never provided the prescribed information

          7) The garage was kept for the landlord to use to store a car. The agent did not know this made the landlord liable for the council tax which thus was not included in the rent

          The landlord died a few months into the tenancy agreement and the family wanted the house back. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t issue a section 21 notice because of the agents failures. They were lucky that my friend didn’t ask for penalties (up to 3 * deposit) and moved out at the end of their fixed term.

          CORGI has not been the correct registration scheme for Gas Engineers for nearly 9 or 10 years (depending on where you live) so I would never use a gas engineer with a CORGI registration. Gas Safe registration is mandatory for all gas engineers so even an engineer employed by CORGI mush have a gas safe registration.

  2. Will

    Same sentence as might be given to a murderer? Why was this person allowed to get to the stage he did?

  3. IWONDER36

    Like this hasn’t been ignored for years, meanwhile the past wealth created has disappeared to a far off land!

    The real crime isn’t agents charging a small fee to ensure this doesn’t happen, it’s people like Sarkari exploiting the most vulnerable, usually those without a voice as they’re possibly here illegally.

    No mention of an inland revenue prosecution either?

    MP’s stop wasting tax payers money attacking agents for no other reason than to promote yourself and start tackling the real housing problems, and those that exploit the vulnerable for their own gain, because the current system allows it!

  4. RosBeck73

    Ignoring whatever else the guy got up to, the idea of criminalising the provision of small spaces is interesting. I wonder where the research is that states that small spaces in themselves are objectionable. I lived in a box room for a while in Croydon in my 20s and it didn’t do me any harm. It was the cheapest thing going and near to work and that’s all I wanted.

  5. HIT MAN

    Best way to stop this nonsense is to regulate Landlords and agents, most Landlords don’t have a Scoobydoo what they are doing, Tenants have the upper hand they get free legal advice from the CAB who advise the them to breach their contracts. Most agents do things by the book Landlords don’t have the knowledge and can easily slip up, that’s when it costs them more than they would pay a legitimate agent. With the fee ban imminent and the ridiculous cap on deposits rents will definitely rise I can see many more cases like this where vulnerable tenants can’t afford good properties and have to go to the unscrupulous Landlords who will take the pi**..

  6. poppy10

    This guy has form. Was convicted for the same thing 6 years ago and clearly didn’t stop him. From the Evening Standard, 10th July 2012:

    A rogue landlord who built up a property empire worth at least £1.8 million by illegally converting houses into multiple flats has been ordered to pay £310,000.

    The sentence handed to Vispasp Sarkari, of Harrow, is believed to be the largest imposed on a landlord in Britain. Sarkari, 50, who served a jail sentence for credit card fraud and has another conviction for breaching fire regulations at one of his properties, also faces three and a half years if he does not pay the penalty within six months.




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