A notorious rogue landlord must pay £1.5m or risk spending up to nine years in prison after what is thought to be a record-breaking court verdict.
Harrow Crown Court in London has found that Vispasp Sarkari flouted planning rules for more than five years, converting properties across Brent and Harrow into substandard flats to let without planning permission.
Brent council says Sarkari, from Harrow, had been cramming tenants into cramped and dangerous accommodation and then charging them “extortionate” amounts in rent.
His criminal enterprise included one property in Brent illegally converted into eight substandard box-room bedsits and four more similarly converted in Harrow.
He defied all planning enforcement warnings by both councils to stop the use of his properties and carried on with his criminal venture raking in thousands of pounds from tenants.
Community Safety cabinet member Councillor Tom Miller says: "Slum landlords won't be tolerated - plain and simple. If you ignore planning laws or leave tenants to languish in poor conditions, then we will find you, we will take action in court, and we will win. Anyone we find flouting planning or exploiting renters will feel a deep hole in their pockets after we've taken them to task.”
Sarkari was also separately fined £12,000 and ordered to pay both councils' costs in full. It's believed that he may have several further properties across the two boroughs - making him responsible for a significant proportion of illegal flat conversions and HMOs in north west London, claims Brent council.
Extensive inquiries by both councils established the extent of Sarkari's criminal activity.
Brent also secured a restraint order against Sarkari which means that he cannot dispose of his assets before the order is paid in full. If he doesn't pay up, then the council can force the sale of his properties.