Unscrupulous landlords in Westminster who illegally crammed their properties with extra rooms before renting them out must pay back close to £300,000.
The two men were hit with bumper fines after the council used the Proceeds of Crime Act in court to regain money they had illegally made.
With the council able to keep 37.5% of Proceeds of Crime money, £86,393 was recouped for taxpayers in Westminster.
Alnajjar’s property was found to be in use as nine studio flats and a one-bed flat, despite it having permission as a restaurant on the ground floor and basement with a house in multiple occupation (HMO) for five people on the upper floors.
Four enforcement notices were served in December 2012 requiring various actions to be taken, including the removal of the unauthorised flats, and demolition of unauthorised roof and basement extensions.
Despite various warnings and appeals by the landlord, Alnajjar pleaded guilty to the offence of not complying with the notices at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in September 2015.
The council made an application for a confiscation order and the case was referred to Southwark Crown Court where Alnajjar was sentenced on August 16 this year. The court also made a confiscation order in the sum of £98,000.
In addition Alnajjar was also ordered to pay a fine of £40,000 and Westminster Council costs of £17,509.
The council served an enforcement order on Al Haddad in May 2011 regarding the unauthorised use of the property as five one bed flats, one studio flat and an estate agents office. The premises had permission for office use only.
Eventually Al Haddad pleaded guilty to not complying with the requirements of the enforcement notice at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in August 2014, and was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on August 19 this year.
In total, Al Haddad was ordered to pay a fine of £12,000 with the court also making a £131,581.52 confiscation order.
Both men will face prison if the money is not paid back within a fixed period.
Council deputy leader Robert Davis, MBE said: “This is a clear warning to anyone who thinks they can ignore planning laws and benefit financially.
“Cramming people into tiny properties and disregarding the need for planning permission is dangerous and puts tenants at risk.
“Westminster City Council is committed to delivering the right growth and will continue to act to recoup money from landlords who profit from criminal activity.”
Peek inside a 'hazardous' house in Rayners Lane Harrow
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