Hefty penalty for Ealing landlords who breached planning rules

Tuesday, June 6th, 2023 - Ealing Council

Two Ealing landlords have been hit with huge bills totalling more than £600,000 for illegally converting houses into a series of cramped and substandard flats, which broke basic planning regulations.

In unconnected cases, Ealing Council prosecuted Naib Sidhu and Vagnik Hovanessian for failing to follow planning rules at properties in Hanwell and Perivale. Both landlords ignored enforcement notices from the council’s planning enforcement team when it was discovered that they did not have planning permission to use their properties as multiple self-contained flats.

Repeat offender

Mr Sidhu, who had already been fined for a similar offence in 2017, is now almost £200,000 worse off after failing to comply with the council’s enforcement notice. The notice, issued in 2017, required him to stop using a former family home on Boston Gardens in Hanwell as eight self-contained flats.

Mr Sidhu had converted the property into eight tiny self-contained flats, despite only receiving planning permission for three self-contained flats. During an initial compliance visit in August 2020, council officers were blocked from accessing all parts of the property. The team then used a warrant to access the property in October 2020, and found that the property was still being used as eight flats.

Mr Sidhu was found guilty of failing to comply with an enforcement notice at Uxbridge Magistrates Court in July 2021 and the case was referred to the Crown Court for confiscation proceedings. In March this year, he was then ordered by Isleworth Crown Court to pay a confiscation order of £166,229, £15,000 in costs and given a £17,000 fine. The size of the fine reflected the fact this this was not Mr Sidhu’s first offence.

Cramped and substandard living conditions

In a second case, Perivale landlord Vagnik Hovanessian has been ordered to pay a total of more than £400,000 for ignoring a planning enforcement notice at his property on Selborne Gardens.

In a long running case, a council inspection in March 2011 found the former family home had been converted into three self-contained flats and a house in multiple occupation (HMO), which gave rise to cramped and substandard living conditions. Mr Hovanessian was served with a notice requiring him to stop occupying the property under those conditions and undo some of the internal alterations.

Nine years later in January 2020, after being repeatedly refused access by Mr Hovanessian in the intervening years, council officers gained a warrant to access the property and found that it was still being occupied in breach of the notice.

In February 2022, Mr Hovanessian was found guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates Court of failing to comply with an enforcement notice, and the case was referred to the Crown Court for confiscation proceedings. In March this year, he was ordered by Isleworth Crown Court to pay a confiscation order of £385,288, £18,000 in costs, and a £3,000 fine.

Following long investigations, both enforcement notices have now been complied with. The landlords initially have three months to pay their confiscation orders and risk a default prison sentence if they do not pay.

Councillor Shital Manro, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for good growth and new homes, said:

This is a great result for all Ealing residents, but particularly those who rent privately. Our planning enforcement team worked doggedly to pursue these two rogue landlords, who did not take their responsibilities seriously and profited from renting out cramped and substandard properties.

Failure to comply with planning enforcement notices is a criminal offence which will always be investigated and punished accordingly. Landlords must ensure that they have relevant planning permission for major changes to their properties.”

Our free guide containing more information about property licensing and HMO planning restrictions in the London Borough of Ealing is available here.

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