We regularly carry stories about fines for landlords and letting agents who have apparently broken council or national laws - but we cannot remember an individual having a confiscation order of very nearly £450,000, which may be a record sum.
This is what’s happened in Southall, west London, where a landlord has been slapped with an enormous fine for repeatedly ignoring council orders to stop letting so-called ‘beds in sheds’ at one of her rental properties.
Samina Nadeem, of Southall, was convicted after disregarding Ealing council’s request to pull down the outhouses which she was renting to up to five tenants.
After purchasing the property in 2012 Nadeem immediately let the outhouses, which were originally built as garages but were illegally converted to residences.
Ealing council issued her with a planning enforcement notice in August 2014, ordering her to stop letting the outhouses and ultimately demolish them.
After Mrs Nadeem ignored the enforcement notice, in September 2015 the council stepped in, demolishing the outbuildings and bringing a prosecution against her.
Having originally entered a not guilty plea at her trial at Ealing Magistrates’ Court, Nadeem was found guilty in February 2017.
The case was then committed to Isleworth Crown Court for a confiscation order to be considered under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. That meant that that Nadeem needed to prove that her income over the preceding six years was legal.
Having failed to do that, last month Nadeem received a confiscation order of £447,552.22 – equivalent to the total equity she owns in her portfolio of rental properties.
This bill must be paid by January 18: if she fails to pay, Mrs Nadeem will receive an automatic four year prison sentence. She was also fined a further £18,000.
Councillor Joanna Camadoo, Ealing Council’s lead member for community safety and inclusion, says: “We’re very pleased to get such a positive result at the end of a very long and drawn out case. Throughout this process Mrs Nadeem and her husband have been obstructive and at times aggressive, using every trick in the book to stop our officers from doing their job and delay the legal process. She completely ignored our requests to act within the law – indeed, the only reason she stopped letting these substandard buildings was because we demolished them.
“It’s a tragedy that tenants are being exploited in this way, forced to live in Dickensian conditions by unscrupulous landlords like Mrs Nadeem. This case is a warning to other property owners who think they can ignore the law - anyone who builds properties in our borough without planning permission can expect a knock on the door from our enforcement officers.”
Last week we reported on another hefty penalty - although this time only £42,000 - for another Ealing 'beds in sheds' case.