News: Landlord hit with record £1.5M fine for flouting planning rules

Thu, 06 Dec 18

A notorious rogue landlord who illegally built a number of tiny bedsits across North West London has been ordered to pay £1.5m or spend nine years in prison.

Vispasp Sarkari was handed the staggering fine after being found guilty of planning offences at Harrow Crown Court last Friday.

Sarkari, 56, of Hawthorne Avenue, Harrow, has raked in thousands of pounds over the past five years from tenants living in substandard boxroom bedsits built without planning consent

The court heard that he had been cramming tenants into cramped and dangerous accommodation - 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 issued by Brent and Harrow Councils.

Cllr 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.

“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 blighting North West London.

Cllr Keith Ferry, Harrow Council's cabinet member for planning, 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.”

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