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A rogue landlord has been fined a record-breaking huge £1.5 million for illegally converting houses into tiny bedsits.
Over a five-year period, landlord Vispasp Sarkari converted properties without planning permission into cramped and dangerous flats, while charging tenants ‘extortionate’ rent.
The tenants were crammed into substandard box-room style bedsits that had been built without any planning permission from the council.
The landlord was hit with the huge fine of £1.5 million after ignoring planning laws and taking advantage of vulnerable tenants ‘desperate for a roof over their head’.
As well as issuing the fine, the judge froze all Sarkari’s accounts and assets until the fine is paid, giving councils the right to sell off his properties if he doesn’t comply.
If the rogue landlord does not pay the huge fine, he faces nine years in prison.
It was confirmed that Sarkari has a string of previous convictions relating to his illegal empire and has been fined hundreds of thousands for safety risks and flouting planning laws.
As well as the huge fine of £1.5 million, the landlord was also separately fined £12,000 and ordered to pay both councils’ costs in full.
Sentencing Sarkari, Judge Wood described the breaches as ‘a flagrant abuse of the Town and Country Planning legislation’.
Both Brent and Harrow councils believe that the landlord may have several other properties across the two boroughs.
Councillor Tom Miller, Brent Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: ‘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.’
He continued: ‘Anyone we find flouting planning or exploiting renters will feel a deep hole in their pockets after we’ve taken them to task.’
Harrow Council’s cabinet member for planning, Keith Ferry, commented: ‘Justice means taking the ill-gotten gains off this slumlord millionaire. This is a man who thought he couldn’t be stopped. He was wrong, and thanks to our joint work with Brent Council, Sarkari’s criminal venture is finished.
‘But he’s not the only rackrent landlord out there, wrecking lives and ruining our boroughs by running illegal flats and HMOs. My message to the others is this: we’ll never stop, we’ll never give up, and when we catch you, we’ll punish you too.’