A landlord faces prison if he cannot find more than £280,000 in three months after housing eight people in a flat which was illegal for even one resident.
Shafait Ali, 51, of Deptford, had converted offices in the Old Kent Road into five flats – without any planning permission.
The homes were a massive danger to the people crowded into them – they had no fire detectors or proper fire escapes, electrical sockets in bathrooms and no heating in some bedrooms.
Southwark Council successfully prosecuted the rogue landlord at the Inner London Crown Court on 10 November 2020 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Mr Ali had pleaded guilty in June 2018 to two offences of failing to comply with a planning enforcement notice under the Town and County Planning Act 1990.
The notice required Mr Ali to cease the use of a property at 719-725 Old Kent Road, as three self-contained flats and two non-self-contained flats.
The notice also required the permanent removal of all fittings for the unauthorised conversion.
Southwark Council’s Trading Standards team and Mr Ali agreed he had made £259,475 renting out the flats so he was served with a proceeds of crime confiscation order for that figure. He was also sentenced to a fine and ordered to pay costs, totalling £23,400.59. He now has three months to pay the confiscation order or face two and half years in prison.
Five flats had been constructed on the first and second floors of the building without planning permission in an unauthorised change of use from previous office/light industrial use.
Southwark Council’s planning enforcement team found the flats were so poorly built they could never be granted planning permission.
One flat was 35 square metres in area – two metres below the minimum for a one person flat. But it had three bedrooms, one with no windows and each bedroom had at least two bunk beds in it. The larger bedroom had two sets of bunk beds – so at least eight people were living in a flat too small for one person.
Cllr Johnson Situ, Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency, Planning & Transport said: “We believe that everyone deserves a place that they’re proud to call home so it’s deeply shocking that families were cramped into properties not even big enough for one or two people.
“This is a great result and another success for our Planning and Trading Standards teams, whose joint efforts have amounted to nearly £1.5 million in confiscation orders issued to landlords renting out illegally converted properties in Southwark since 2019.
“The council remains committed to taking tough action against criminal landlords who would profit from the misery of their tenants by renting illegal and sub-standard properties.”
Pictured: Outside flat on Old Kent Road
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