A landlord has been ordered to pay £268,000 to avoid a prison sentence after cramming up to 12 people in his South London apartments in Southwark.
Iftikhar Ahmed squeezed seven flats into a development designed for six by splitting one apartment in half, attracting the attention of Southwark Council.
He also added extra bedrooms to rent out as holiday rentals and temporary accommodation without authorisation.
Owing to his alterations five of the apartments – at 2a Boyson Road, Walworth, SE17 – had no storage space, while all were below the legal size for a house in England.
Ahmed was issued with a planning enforcement notice ordering him to comply with planning permission in 2017. However he ignored to the order, pleading guilty at a hearing at Croydon Magistrates in February 2021.
In April 28 he was ordered by the London Crown Court to pay back £230,000 that he illegally gained in rent from the properties in three months or face prison
His company, Highbrow Properties Limited, was ordered to hand over £25,000 in fines and court costs, while he personally had to pay an extra £13,000.
Cllr Darren Merrill, cabinet member for a safer, cleaner borough, said: “Everyone deserves a good quality home and space standards make sure that new homes are both good quality and a good size.
“This blatant attempt to shoehorn an extra flat and additional bedrooms, compromised the entire block.
“This court result serves as warning that planning control breaches will not be tolerated and supports the council in cracking down on those who try to benefit from renting illegal and sub-standard properties in Southwark.
“In addition to this work, I am also pushing for more powers to tackle low quality homes. Coupled with adequate funding, this could help us to ensure that quality housing is available to everyone in Southwark.”
According to reports local residents had been disturbed by the constant coming and going of people from the properties.
The landlord must now demolish the unauthorised flats or restore them to the planning permission-approved design.
The flats also need to be used as permanent accommodation, not Airbnbs.