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London borough secures £111k confiscation order over flat and bedsit conversions

A property owner in London who built a number of extensions and converted them into seven flats and two bedsits, all without planning permission, has been ordered to pay more than £144,000.

Brent Council said two enforcement notices were issued to Orofena St. John, owner of 39 Clarendon Gardens, in 2017 requiring that the extensions be demolished and the premises be converted back to one house.

Both orders were ignored and the council said it had “no option other than to take the matter to court”.

St John was convicted of breaching the enforcement notices in 2019 and the matter was then referred to Harrow Crown Court under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

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During the proceedings it was revealed that St. John was also in breach of another enforcement notice issued to 13 The Paddocks. This property had similarly been illegally converted into two homes, with rooms being rented out to multiple students on a short-term basis without permission, Brent said.

On 1 September 2021, St. John was ordered to pay £111,582.57 for the income received from illegally renting the properties to tenants for a profit. In addition to this, St. John was ordered to pay £18,000 in council legal costs and £15,000 for the breach of the notices.

Brent hailed the prosecution as “a true cross-council effort with special thanks to Brent's Legal, Trading Standards, and Planning Enforcement teams”. 

Cllr Shama Tatler, Brent Council Lead Member for Regeneration, Property & Planning, said: “This is a significant win for Brent. The council is committed to taking robust action to prevent the creation of substandard, poor-quality housing and badly designed and ugly extensions.

“The bottom line is that we will hold people to account who break planning laws, and create unlawful developments.”

Cllr Tatler added: “This penalty sends a clear message that people will not be allowed to get away with ignoring planning laws and renting out properties illegally.

“These laws are in place to protect our residents from being exploited in inferior accommodation and to ensure that Brent’s environment is a great place for everyone to live.”

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