An unscrupulous landlord who operated multi-tenant properties in north-west London without consent has been ordered to pay back £739,263.58 in illicit earnings or face jail, in one of the biggest confiscation orders of its kind.
Planning enforcement officers at Brent Council, which investigated the case, found up to 15 people, mainly from eastern Europe and Brazil, living in some of the homes, including one property where there was a family of four in one room, a family of three in another and three single men in another.
The council said the properties in Willesden, owned by Mohammed Mehdi Ali and his father, were some of the worst its officers had ever seen.
Ali was told by the court that he would face a prison term of five years and nine months if he did not pay the order in full within three months.
It follows an earlier £544,000 confiscation order against his father, Salah Mahdi Ali, in the court of appeal in 2014 that involved criminal earnings on two of the same properties. He had converted four homes into 38 flats without planning permission.
Ali was found guilty of failing to comply with planning enforcement notices in April 2018 at Willesden Magistrates Court, after investigations by Brent’s planning enforcement team. The case was then referred to Harrow Crown Court for confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Brent was represented in the crown court by Edmund Robb of Prospect Law.
Detailed investigations carried out by Brent’s financial investigators and Brent’s planning enforcement officers revealed the extent of the number of illegal dwellings created and the illicit earnings made by illegally renting out the properties, which were owned by Ali and his father. The properties were used as houses in multiple occupation and as undersized flats.
Ali was also ordered to pay Brent council £30,000 to cover its legal costs in the long-running case.
Cllr Shama Tatler, Lead Member for Regeneration, Property & Planning, said: “This is another huge win for Brent. The council will take robust action to prevent the creation of poor quality housing.
“This penalty sends a clear message that rogue landlords will not be allowed to get away with ignoring planning laws. The accommodation provided was some of the worst residential accommodation that officers have ever come across. Brent will not tolerate this type of behaviour, landlords providing such horrible conditions. Brent residents deserve better.”