Waltham Forest Council has secured six-figure confiscation orders in two cases against landlords who adapted their properties without seeking appropriate planning permissions – and then refused to revert them to their original structures.
In the first case Mr and Mrs Khilji of Sylvester Road, Walthamstow, were successfully prosecuted after illegally converting a property on Rochdale Road, Leyton into two self-contained flats and failing to comply with an enforcement notice requiring them to return the property to its original structure.
The case was initially heard at Thames Magistrates Court where the owners pleaded guilty and the case was referred to Snaresbrook Crown Court for sentencing.
On 24 July 2020, the defendants were ordered to pay a total of £180,000 which included a fine of £1,000 for each defendant, costs of £18,000 and a Proceeds of Crime Act award of £160,000. The defendants were given 56 days to pay.
In the second case, Mr Mohammed Raja Iqbal was convicted following his failure to comply with a planning enforcement notice relating to 65 St James’s Street, Walthamstow, where he built – without planning permission – a three-story extension, and converted the upper floor to flats.
Waltham Forest’s Planning Enforcement Team served a notice calling for the demolition of the extension and reinstatement of the original two-story structure. Mr Iqbal did not comply with the notice.
Snaresbrook Crown Court ordered Mr Iqbal to pay confiscation proceeds in the amount of £261,837.89 – or face two years’ imprisonment in default of payment.
Costs were awarded in the amount of £27,174 and a fine of £20,000 was handed down.
The confiscation order, costs and the fine must be paid within three months.
Following the conviction, the ability of Premier Home Investments, of which Mr Iqbal is a director, to act as manager or licence holder in respect of any property licence will be reviewed, the council said.
Cllr Clyde Loakes, Waltham Forest’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “People who flout planning rules for their own financial gain need to understand that we will take necessary enforcement action. We will consider action under Proceeds of Crime Act whenever appropriate so that we take away the financial benefit of this criminal activity.”