A landlord who illegally converted a hotel into 26 squalid flats has been slapped with more than £338,000 in fines.
Nihal Seneviratne and his company, NSV Management Ltd, turned a former hotel in Nicoll Road, Harlesden, into 26 studio flats without seeking permission from the Council back in 2011. Brent Council issued Mr Seneviratne with a planning enforcement notice in March 2012, but he failed to comply - writes Brent Council.
Instead, Mr Seneviratne, aged 59, went on to cheat over 100 vulnerable tenants into paying thousands of pounds to live in sub-standard accommodation. Although the minimum size requirement for a studio flat in London is 37m2, the 26 flats each measured between 9m2 and 20m2. Poor insulation, thin walls, bad maintenance and insanitary conditions added to the tenants' discomfort.
NSV Management Ltd and Mr Seneviratne were finally convicted on 5 September last year. An appeal against the conviction was dismissed at Harrow Crown Court on 26 January this year, allowing confiscation proceedings to begin.
Harrow Crown Court issued a £300,650 confiscation order to Mr Seneviratne's company under the Proceeds of Crime Act on 30 August this year. Mr Seneviratne, of Kings Garden, West End Lane, Kilburn, was also ordered to pay £20,000 in fines as well as £18,268 to cover Brent Council's costs. He has been given three months to pay the confiscation order in full, which will be distributed between the government, the courts and the council. The judge described Mr Seneviratne's actions as "a clear and flagrant breach of planning law".
Cllr Harbi Farah, Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, said: "Mr Seneviratne's illegal behaviour resulted in many tenants enduring atrocious conditions, which were making their lives a misery. The outcome of this long case is a victory against slum landlords who exploit vulnerable residents for a profit. Brent Council will make sure that rogue landlords will not benefit in any way from their crimes."
Cllr Tom Miller, Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, said: "These flats didn't come close to meeting minimum standards required under planning policy. Rogue landlords who contravene the planning rules can expect robust action to be taken against them."