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Landlord Must Pay £550,000 for Defying Planning Laws

Jun 02, 2015

In a warning to landowners that the consequences of defying planning laws can be dire, a landlord who let his property to multiple tenants without authority has been hit with a fine, a confiscation order and a legal costs bill, totaling more than £550,000.

The property’s established use was as a shop with a single flat above. However, following conversion works, the man had rented living space to up to nine tenants without planning consent. He ignored a council enforcement notice and continued to pocket rent which derived from his tenants housing benefit payments.

He was prosecuted by the relevant local authority and, after he was convicted of breaching the enforcement notice, received a £20,000 fine and £38,442 costs bill. Following confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, he was ordered to pay a further £494,314, representing every penny in rent that he had received over a period of almost four years.

In rejecting his challenge to the fine and the confiscation order, the Court of Appeal rejected arguments that he was entitled to set off the costs of running the property against his profits from crime. His plea that he had given good value to his tenants was also dismissed and the sentence was upheld as severe but justifiably so.