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Lettings firm owner jailed for failing to repay 'illegal' rent

The owner of a property firm who reportedly misled tenants and let an illegally converted property has been jailed for 155 days, having failed to pay a confiscation order.

Majid Saniinejad, of Stoke Newington in London, was prosecuted by Southwark council two and a half years ago for breaching a planning notice and for trading standard offences after illegally converting a property in Peckham into two small flats, forcing tenants to live in cramped and squalid conditions.

After a trial it was found that Saniinejad and his company, Hertford (UK) Limited, had not been professionally diligent and had misled the tenants by not telling them the property was subject to planning enforcement notices. 

Saniinejad also pleaded guilty to the offence of ignoring the council’s planning notice to return the two flats back into one unit. He was fined a total of £2,500, with costs of £16,885.70.

In January last year Southwark council applied for a Confiscation Order under the Proceeds of Crime Act, for the recovery of rents totalling £24,000. Saniinejad was given until April 28 2016 to make full payment and warned that failure to do so could result in a prison sentence.

Now this month Saniinejad was challenged at Westminster Magistrates’ Court as £14,644 of the £24,000 confiscation - that had been due by April 2016 - still remained to be paid. 

A district judge concluded the hearing by activating the default jail sentence, ruling that: “According to the assets listed you were well able to pay the entire amount and you have wilfully refused to pay. I am not satisfied that you have made sufficient efforts to pay. I find culpable neglect.”

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