16:07 PM, 30th November 2011, About 10 years ago
A landlord who defied planning laws to convert three houses in to houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) has been stripped of £112,500 in rents by a judge.
Piara Singh Sehajpal ignored planning rules and turned three houses in 16 letting rooms and rented them out at £800 a month each.
Judge Georgina Kent, sitting at Kingston Crown Court, fined him £21,000 for breaking planning laws, ordered him to pay £9,973 costs and confiscated the rents of £112,500 he had earned.
Sehajpal must pay the money in 12 months or go to jail for 18 months.
Councillor Virginia Morris, Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, said: “This is the best outcome we could have hoped for. People may think planning is frustrating and time consuming, but planning laws must be complied with.
“This case absolutely proves planning enforcement prosecutions do have teeth and can make a difference when required, especially when coupled with the new confiscation orders created by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
“Neighbours have no doubt been concerned about how these houses have been used and I am pleased we can now explain to them what has been happening and how it has been dealt with. It will also serve as a very sharp reminder to other landlords thinking they can try to dodge the law. Planning rules exist for a reason and we will always do our utmost to ensure they are upheld.”
Sehajpal admitted the planning offences at Richmond Magistrates Court last year, and in March 2011 further offences of breaching three enforcement notices requiring him to return the properties to single homes.
The case was transferred to crown court for sentencing.
Councils are increasingly seeking confiscation of assets from landlords under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Newham Council recently won a landmark case against a letting company that let a shared house without an HMO licence. The judge confiscated £12,000 rents charged while the property was illegally let.
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