Owners who illegally converted an Ealing property into five flats have been fined more than £100,000.
George and Linda Chrisostomou converted their property in Warwick Road, Ealing, into five sub-standard flats without planning permission in 2008.
Following a warning from Ealing Council’s enforcement team, the Chrisostomous applied for planning permission retrospectively to retain the flats but the application was refused and a planning inspector dismissed their subsequent appeal in 2009.
Failure to take remedial steps led to them being issued with an enforcement notice to stop using the house as flats. The couple appealed but this was also dismissed, in April 2012, and they were given a further six months, until October 2012, to comply with the enforcement notice.
The couple then applied for planning permission to convert the house into two flats, which was granted in September 2012, but they failed to implement the changes or to comply with the enforcement notice.
Ealing Council prosecuted them and applied for a confiscation order under the POCA after issuing a letter of caution in September 2013.
The pair appeared at Harrow Crown Court on April 24 where they received fines of £5,000 each and were ordered to pay the council’s court costs totalling £11,163.54 plus a victim surcharge.
The court also imposed a confiscation order of £83,000 on them, which is a reflection of the money illegally obtained by continuing to rent the property as flats after an enforcement notice compliance date from the council expired. This sum is to be paid within six months or else the couple could face 22-months imprisonment.
Pat Hayes, the council’s executive director for regeneration and housing, said: “I cannot stress enough how important it is to obtain planning permission and follow regulations to ensure a property conversion is safe and legal.
“As this case demonstrates, the council will pursue anyone who flouts planning law and those found guilty could end up paying extremely stiff penalties.”