Barking and Dagenham landlord ordered to pay over £200,000 or face two years imprisonment
An east London landlord has been forced to pay out over £235,000 for renting out illegal bedsits following a proceeds of crime application brought before Snaresbrook Crown Court by Barking and Dagenham Council on 12 April.
Zoofshan Malik of Upney Lane, Barking, was ordered to pay the massive sum by Recorder Milliken Smith after she initially pleaded guilty to renting unlawful flats in a breach of a planning enforcement notice, regarding an illegal extension to her property in Longbridge Road at £2,850 per month.
Malik was renting out the four flats in sub-standard conditions through Emerson Knight Estates Ltd of which she was a director.
Councillor Laila Butt, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement, Barking & Dagenham Council said:
“This is a victory for decent landlords and law abiding estate agents. It reflects the magnificent work of our legal team, BDT Legal, and our diligent investigation and enforcement officers whose determination and forensic use of evidence led to this excellent outcome.
“It’s more evidence that this council will relentlessly pursue rogue landlords in our resolve to stand up for decent housing standards.“
Recorder Smith ordered the 47-year-old to pay the £222,000 Confiscation Order – under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 – in three months or face two years’ imprisonment.
He also fined her £2,000 for the illegal extension, with three months to pay or face 30 days in jail and ordered Malik to pay £11,649 in costs.
The proceeds of crime case was brought before the court after Barking and Dagenham Council argued the 47-year-old had benefitted from her offending following an earlier hearing on the illegal extension. According to the council, the rental income Malik derived from the illegal extension totalled around £108,000.
Additional investigations demonstrated that she had received unaccounted deposits into her bank account, which the Council argued demonstrated a wider benefit from general criminal conduct.
Officers from the council’s Planning Enforcement team raided the property as a result of an anonymous allegation about the 37ft extension, and found the four flats being rented out in sub-standard conditions.
Cllr Butt added:
“Through our tough enforcement action they have been demolished so no one else has to suffer such bad living conditions.
“What makes matters worse is her connection to the estate agency – she knew the law and was intentionally exploiting people who find it hard enough to find property to rent at affordable prices.“
Money paid under the order will be reinvested into efforts to tackle criminality against the borough, to further protect borough residents.
Out of the £222,000 for the confiscation order, 37.5 per cent goes to the council to be spent on fighting crime. 50 percent will go to the government while 12.5 per cent will go to the court service.
For all the latest news and events, you can sign up for the free London Property Licensing newsletter here.