A landlord guilty of breaching a planning enforcement notice has been ordered to pay a record fine and costs to the London Borough of Barnet, after the largest planning enforcement and confiscation investigation the borough has seen.
Landlord Saied Rahmdezfouli was ordered by Wood Green Crown Court to pay more than £700,000, comprising a confiscation order for £555,954.49 for profits generated from his criminal conduct, a £65,000 fine for planning offences and £80,000 in costs.
Mr Rahmdezfouli faces a default prison sentence of five years and four months if he fails to comply with this confiscation order within three months.
He was originally found guilty of planning offences in August 2015 and the case was referred for confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to Barnet’s corporate anti-fraud team, which had been conducting the financial investigation in parallel with the planning enforcement investigation since 2010.
The case began in 2006 when the council had refused Mr Rahmdezfouli’s proposal to convert a semi-detached home in Cricklewood into nine flats.
He ignored this and subdivided the property illegally, renting out rooms out which were substandard in size.
Barnet served a planning enforcement notice in March 2007 which was followed up by legal action after which Mr Rahmedzfouli made numerous court appearances but continued to rent out the property.
Council leader Richard Cornelius said: “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.”
Pursuing the case the anti-fraud team worked with HB Public Law, Barnet’s shared legal service with neighbouring Harrow. Richard Heller of Drystone Chambers represented Barnet.