Although fines given to landlords for breaking national or council laws make frequent headlines, a sum of almost £450,000 may be the highest fine ever handed to a buy to let landlord. The landlord, located in Southall in West London, was given the colossal fine for continuously disregarding the local council’s orders for letting accommodation deemed ‘beds in sheds’ within one of her investment properties.
Samina Nadeem was convicted after ignoring Ealing Council’s requests to dismantle the outhouses which she let to around five tenants. After buying the property in 2012, the landlord let the outhouses, which were built as garages, once she illegally converted them into rental accommodation. In August 2014, Ealing Council issued Ms Nadeem with a planning enforcement notice and ordered her to cease letting the outhouses to tenants, and to demolish them.
However, the landlord disregarded the enforcement notice, and the council took action in September 2015, bringing prosecution against her and demolishing the outbuildings. Ms Nadeem originally entered a plea of not guilty at the trial at the Magistrates’ Court in Ealing, but the court ruled against her in February 2017, and found her guilty.
The case was then transferred to Isleworth Crown Court, for the consideration of a confiscation order under the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act. This required the landlord to prove the legality of her income from the past six years. After failing to provide this evidence, Ms Nadeem received an order of confiscation last month totalling £447,552.22, which is the equivalent of the total equity of the portfolio of investment properties she owns. This bill must be settled by the 18th January 2019, and if Ms Nadeem fails to pay, she will be fined a further sum of £18,000 with an automatic prison sentence of four years.
The lead Councillor for community safety and inclusion at Ealing Council, Joanna Camadoo, explained that the outcome of the case is positive news for the council after such a lengthy and prolonged case. Ms Camadoo went on to explain that throughout the process, the landlord and her husband obstructed the officers from carrying out their job, while also delaying the legal process. As the landlord continued to ignore the council’s requests to rent property within the law, they believe that the only reason Ms Nadeem finally stopped letting the substandard properties was because the council demolished them. The council’s aim is to stop unscrupulous landlords like Ms Nadeem exploiting tenants by letting property with inadequate conditions, and it hopes that this case will act as a warning to others who ignore the law.
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