North London couple fined £322,000 under Proceeds of Crime Act

A husband and wife have been ordered to pay out £322,282 under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) for unlawfully converting two terraced houses into 18 "tiny" flats.

Enforcement action: Brent Civic Centre (pic: (Mick Baker) rooster via Flickr)
Enforcement action: Brent Civic Centre (pic: (Mick Baker) rooster via Flickr)

The London Borough of Brent said it secured a prosecution against married couple Mohammad Ishaq, 68, and Shamim Akhtar, 66, both of Clifford Way, Neasden, following years of enforcement action.

According to a statement, the council said they converted two terrace houses, at Glynfield Road and Belton Road, into a total of 18 "tiny" flats without planning permission.

They subsequently lost appeals against Brent Council’s enforcement notices, which ordered them to undo the works. The council said that, despite its written warnings, "they ignored the problem and failed to comply with the notices for several years".

The borough said the pair had pleaded guilty to the planning offences at Willesden Magistrates Court in May.

The case was then referred to Harrow Crown Court for confiscation and sentencing, with the crown court making a confiscation order on 12 December.

In addition to the £322,282 confiscation order, the authority said the pair were each fined £10,000 for their failure to comply with planning enforcement notices on properties they own in Willesden and Harlesden and were further ordered to pay the council's costs.

The pair have 12 weeks to pay unless they convince the court for extra time, the council added. The judge specified that failure to pay the sum would lead to imprisonment for two years.

Tom Miller, Brent Council's cabinet member for community safety, said: "These individuals showed a blatant disregard for planning rules by renting out shoddy accommodation and have now paid the price.

"Once again, Brent has shown that ignoring enforcement notices simply doesn't pay."

The result comes just a few weeks after a £1.4 million confiscation order was made against a different landlord in the same court, also for planning offences.

Last month, a west London landlord was fined almost £450,000 under the POCA for letting out unlawful 'beds in sheds' at one of her properties. 

Also last month, a Staffordshire man was ordered to pay out over £200,000 for running an unauthorised scrap yard in the green belt following a long-running enforcement case, which included action taken under the POCA. 

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