A London landlord has been hit with fines and costs totalling £280k from renting illegal housing after ignoring council orders to stop renting his outbuilding and return it to normal use.
David Kohali turned his outbuilding in Hornsey Road, Holloway, into six small flats sometime before 2009. In that year he was ordered by the council to stop using it for flats, and to take out kitchens and bathrooms.
Kohali ignored the order and for the next four years continued to defy other enforcement notices from Islington Council and the planning inspector, and carried on renting out the flats.
In 2013 Islington Council began proceedings for a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act, relating to money made by illegally renting out the unauthorised units.
A successful prosecution saw a judge at Blackfriar’s Crown Court rule in the council’s favour and order Kohali to pay an eye-watering £280,000, thought to be one of the largest fines ever given to a landlord. The sum was made up of a £190,000 fine, a confiscation order of £76,562.07 and the council’s costs of £15,042.50. The confiscation amount is due to be paid within 28 days and the rest within three months. Failure to pay could lead to imprisonment.
Islington’s housing chief councillor James Murray said: ‘More and more people in Islington are renting privately, and the housing crisis is so bad that desperate tenants are vulnerable to being exploited by rogue landlords. We want to make sure people have decent places to live, not places like these six small, sub-standard flats crammed into an outbuilding. We will take action against property owners like this who are trying to cash in on Londoners’ desperate search for housing by offering accommodation that flouts the rules or is too small to live in.’
Islington Council has been clamping down on rogue landlords, and is especially concerned about poor property conversions and poorly managed shared houses and flats along Caledonian Road and Holloway Road. Following a street survey the council has began a consultation that will look at additional licensing for HMOs. Interested parties can complete a questionnaire. The consultation will close on Friday 9 January 2015.