Hillingdon landlord ordered to pay £142,000 for illegal flat conversion
Hillingdon Council has prosecuted Surinder Kaur Sethi, 61, for a breaching a planning enforcement notice and the court has ordered her to pay back the rental income she obtained through letting her property.
Council Planning Enforcement officers discovered that Sethi had converted the single occupancy house in Balmoral Drive, Hayes, into two self-contained flats without applying for planning permission, and let them to unwitting tenants. She was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on 16 November.
Sethi pleaded guilty to the charge at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on 23 February 2016. The council’s Trading Standards team then investigated the money she made by letting out the property. This was reflected at sentencing when she received a Confiscation Order of £142,490 with a term of one year’s imprisonment if she fails to pay within three months. A further £1,000 fine was set along with a £100 victim surcharge.
This case was of particular concern to the council, who had previously served an enforcement notice on Sethi’s property for subdivision without planning permission. Sethi originally complied with this notice and converted it back into a single dwelling. However, she was found to have subdivided without permission once again.
Unsurprisingly her assertion to Isleworth Crown Court, that she had made a genuine mistake in assuming that the properties separate registration for Council Tax constituted planning permission to use it as such, was dismissed.
Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council said:
“This is a great result for Hillingdon Council. Our prosecution of Mrs Sethi and our Planning Enforcement and Trading Standards team’s investigation into her illegal activity has lead to her prosecution and the proceeds of her crime being recovered at sentencing.
“Hillingdon Council is committed to ensuring that crime does not pay in this borough.“