A rogue landlord who squeezed tenants into “cramped and sub-standard” conditions has been ordered to pay £268,000, or face two years behind bars.
The case brought to court after an investigation by Southwark Council heard how the landlord illegally squashed seven flats into a development designed for six at 2a Boyson Road, Walworth, SE17.
The council said Mr Iftikhar Ahmed, 54, of Mount Drive, Wembley, the director of Highbrow Properties Limited, had designed the properties so badly that five flats had zero storage space.
He also let the rooms as temporary accommodation and short-term holiday lets without authorisation, resulting in the loss of “much-needed” permanent accommodation.
Ahmed, who pleaded guilty at the Inner London Crown Court on 28 April and now he, or the company, must now pay the £230,000 as a crime confiscation order.
Highbrow Properties Limited incurred fines and costs of £25,000, while Ahmed must pay fines and costs of £13,000.
A confiscation order is when the convicted defendant pays the money gained from illegal activity to HM Courts and Tribunal Service, but is not stripped of their asset.
Cllr Darren Merrill, Cabinet Member for a Safer, Cleaner Borough, said: “Everyone deserves a good quality home and space standards make sure that new homes are both good quality and a good size.
“This blatant attempt to shoehorn an extra flat and additional bedrooms, compromised the entire block.
“This court result serves as warning that planning control breaches will not be tolerated and supports the council in cracking down on those who try to benefit from renting illegal and sub-standard properties in Southwark.
“In addition to this work, I am also pushing for more powers to tackle low quality homes. Coupled with adequate funding, this could help us to ensure that quality housing is available to everyone in Southwark.”
The constant coming and going of people to and from the properties had reportedly disturbed local residents too.
The council ordered Ahmed to demolish the unauthorised flats or restore it to its planning permission-approved design.
The flats, which the council has said must be used for permanent accommodation, are now in compliance with planning permission.