A notorious landlord who rented out a sub-standard basement as living accommodation has been ordered to repay £70,000 in rent under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The council which took landlord Andrew Panayi to court originally sought a confiscation order of £103,000 – 14 years’ worth of rent.
Islington Council, where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has his constituency, has made it clear it will go after other landlords where necessary.
Panayi lets out a large number of properties in the north London borough.
He has previously been highlighted as letting out very small properties.
In the case of the basement below a café, this was let out for £975 a month.
He pleaded guilty to renting out the unlicensed basement despite an earlier enforcement notice that it was “an unsatisfactory and substandard unit of residential accommodation … with inadequate light and outlook and poor living environment”.
He was also fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £16,000 costs by a judge at Blackfriars crown court.
Panayi let the space beneath a cafe for 14 years after buying it in 2000. He claimed in court that he did not know council inspectors had ruled that it should not be used as a self-contained accommodation unit.
Company information reports available online say that Panayi’s company, Ploughcane, has a net worth of £2.3m.
Panayi’s lawyer, Joseph Reeve, said: “His position remains that he was unaware of the existence of the enforcement notice because he was not notified about this by his solicitors at the time the property was purchased.
“It was accepted by the prosecution and the court that this was far removed from matters involving a criminal lifestyle. This was not the case here. The only benefit my client gained was receipt of rent, which was repaid.”
Cllr James Murray, Islington council’s executive member for housing, said: “More and more people in Islington are renting privately, and we are determined to help make sure they have decent homes to live in.
“Most landlords act lawfully – but when rogue landlords break the rules, we will go after them.”
Panayi has been involved in a running battle with the council over many of his rental properties. Last year, 19 of his bedsits above a McDonalds were declared a category one hazard.