Nine years’ rent confiscated after flats declared illegal

A landlord has been ordered to pay back no less than £190,000 – equivalent to nine years’ rent – after he let out illegal flats.

A confiscation order was made against Olu Soyebo, from Nigeria, after he failed to comply with a planning enforcement notice.

Now he has three months to pay the money back or else face prison.

Harrow Crown Court heard how the property in Wembley, north London, had been converted into flats without planning permission back in 2009.

Brent council served a notice on him but follow-up visits discovered the flats had been reinstated by Soyebo and were let out separately, for over nine years.

His Honour Judge Tregilgas-Davey told Soyebo that the breach had continued for a “not insignificant period of time” and that financial investigators from Brent council were able to prove how much money he’d made in illegal rent.

He said: “You entirely ignored the foreseeable risk when you converted [the property] into two flats without planning permission.”

The judge criticised Soyebo for failing to put measures in place to ensure that the council’s warning letters, which were sent to several known addresses in London, would reach him at his home in Nigeria.

The court heard it wasn’t Soyebo’s first enforcement notice: in 2001 a notice was served on him when the property was being used as a house in multiple occupation without planning permission.

The judge said his past brush with the planning enforcement system demonstrated Soyebo must have known the likely consequences of his actions.

As well as the confiscation order, he was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay the council’s legal costs.

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