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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

£1.2m confiscated from rogue buy to let firm and landlord

A London council has won one of the largest-ever Proceeds of Crime claims from an unscrupulous buy to let investor.

Andre Charles Trepel, who’s in his 70s, chopped three flats in the London Bridge area into around 20 cramped studios and bedsits.

Initially he was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £35,000 costs for breaching a planning enforcement notice, with a further £1,000 fine from his company – No.1 (London) Ltd. 

But Trepel and the company will also have to pay back £1,118,601 criminal benefit under Proceeds of Crime confiscation orders within the next three months or he will face a seven year prison sentence.

The council originally won a planning prosecution against Trepel, from Trinec in the Czech Republic, for his illegal conversion of the three flats in 2010. 

He was fined and ordered to return the property back to its original condition.

Subsequent investigations by Southwark council planning enforcement team in 2015 and 2016 showed that little had been done to rectify the situation and further charges were brought in 2017. 

Trepel was again found guilty, but his sentencing was deferred while the council’s trading standards team conducted a financial investigation into the profits he had gathered from renting the properties.

It was agreed he would have received £1.2.m gross in rent on his London Bridge Street properties since 2011.

Under Proceeds of Crime Act rules most of the money will go to the government but the council will receive around £445,000 of the criminal benefit to re-invest in enforcement and crime reduction initiatives.

The council has restrained assets belonging to both Trepel and his company to ensure that the confiscation orders will be satisfied.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 02 May 2019 10:19 AM

    First, the MPs gave the council millions to fund enforcement. Now they managed to claim criminal proceeds base on assumptions. Surely the court must be more level headed than the MPs and council to grant such a high volume of sentence base on assumptions. Considering that housing is the issues, shouldn't the profits go back to the taxpayer as the funds come from them and also perhaps part be used to provide much-needed housing since the incarceration of the Landlord had led to the exodus of Landlords reducing the supplies of much needed housing.

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    APP/A5840/W/18/3199179 Southwark Council's statement "The Council has caused confusion though for which it apologises because at the same time it has complained that bedrooms are undersized" Notwithstanding the large number of bedrooms in the flat, the bedroom sizes, the bedroom sizes as a whole equate to double bedroom size"
    The Planning Inspector allowed the appeal. She noted in her decision that the rooms all complied with Southwark BC's HMO standards in relation to room sizes. The communal kitchen also complied. She could find no conflict with policy 3.5 of the London Plan, Strategic Policies 7 and 13 of the Southwark Core Strategy 2011 and Policies 3.2, 3.11 and 4.2 of the Southwark Plan 2007, which Southwark BC had relied upon when refusing the application. She also found that it complied with the National Planning Policy Framework and that it would not conflict with guidance within the Residential Design SPD and the HMO Standards.

    I have had tenants living at this property for as long as 12 years - no complaints or section 21. All wrote to Southwark Planning with the applications which were refused hence the appeal. Were their views taken into consideration? I had 5 flats not 3 see Southwark Optimised Planning Archive p74 before, weary of not knowing how many residents as opposed to tenants I had in each I took the decision to add an en suite shower room and kitchenette. This made them self-contained.

    It is strange that the draft London Plan 2017 at 4.18.6 recommends
    "The private units should be appropriately sized to be comfortable and functional for
    a tenant’s needs and may include facilities such as en-suite bathrooms and
    kitchenettes limited cooking facilities. There are currently no minimum space
    standards for these units"
    I was born in IOW after my French commando father was killed on V2 mission. My widow mother brought me up in rented Key flats for most of my life. I believe I put the welfare and dignity of my tenants above my own. Southwark saw very deep pockets, refused numerous planning applications because of the lure of POCA

  • Suzy OShea

    I hope that your appeals are successful.

    It amazes me how councils who are supposed to ease the housing crisis can be so obstructive! this I believe is due to the signals that the Conservative Party has sent out that it is open season on landlords in the private rented sector.

    Its the last ditch appeal of a morally and politically bankrupt maladministration which wants to pretend to be more 'caring' and left wing than New Labour! No wonder Corby and MacDonald are pushed to socialist extremes, their own centre ground has been invaded by lying May!

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    Suzy
    The appeal was successful. Southwark tried to delay the Appeal decision till after the Trial date. I had made the rooms self contained with en suite and kitchenette.My mistake but the tenants loved them. I took the kitchenettes out in the end to get closure . Strange how we had people on the stairs trying to put their deposit before somebody else.

  • Suzy OShea

    Andre,

    I'm glad to hear that your appeal was successful.

    this is not reflected in the article which makes it rather worthless and a spurious scare-mongering tactic.

    I wonder who believes that they would benefit from such a policy. Certainly not tenants.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 06 May 2019 21:26 PM

    The council have only eyes on the landlords deep pocket but we dont have deep pockets. Due to the improvement notice requiring upvc doors and iwndows and licencing etc etc, its barely a £1k left in a year.

  • icon

    S1 agree but when you have been in Southwark since 1979 very difficult for people and officials not to know your business

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