Lies, illegal flats and hidden tenants lead to suspended jail sentence
A buy to let investor who hid families in windowless rooms after failing to get planning permission for a block of flats has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Talwinder Singh was refused permission by Slough council to build the block of six flats but went ahead and built them anyway in the Manor Park area of the town.
Then, despite being served with a planning enforcement notice in September 2010, he let the six flats to tenants.
He then lied and claimed the property had been returned to a single dwelling in line with the enforcement notice and informed the council accordingly.
In a bid to keep up the deception Singh installed temporary kitchens in the illegal flats which would be dismantled and removed when council officers were set to visit as well as a door to the attic being boarded up.
He also removed windows on the top floor attic flats to give the impression the rooms were not being rented out leaving tenants, with children, without any natural light.
Then he also charged tenants an additional fee for council tax despite paying Slough council for only the one property he had declared.
Judge Paul Dugdale, sitting at Reading Crown Court, sentenced Singh to a 15 month prison term, suspended for 18 months.
He was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £266,177, which represented the illegally obtained rent money and unpaid council tax, which was confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Slough council was awarded £18,826 in compensation for lost council tax and £23,130 in prosecution costs.
Singh was also ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work over 12 months. All monies would have to be paid within three months or he will face up to 30 months in jail.
Judge Dugdale told Singh he was an experienced landlord who had been “greedy” and prepared to inconvenience tenants to maintain the façade.
He added that he had “totally ignored” the council’s planning decision and used dishonest acts to hoodwink the council over a number of years to maximise his personal profits.
Singh, admitted two charges of failure to comply with an enforcement notice between December 2011 and December 2017, under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and dishonestly making a false representation in December 2012, contrary to the Fraud Act 2006, intending to make a gain for himself and /or cause a loss to Slough Borough Council.
He now has to return the flats to the permitted one or two properties as per the original planning consent.