Industry News

Rogue landlord ordered to pay back nearly three quarters of a million pounds for illicit earnings on overcrowded properties

north west London. It is believed to be the largest such order for a planning breach made anywhere in the country so far this year. The order was made against Mohammed Mehdi


Ali of High Road, Willesden, following a prosecution brought by Brent Council’s legal team. Mr Ali was told by the court that he would face a prison term of 5 years and 9 months if he did not pay the order in full within three months. He was also ordered to pay Brent Council £30,000.00 to cover its legal costs in the long-running case. Judge Lana Wood made the order against Mr Ali

at Harrow Crown Court. Mr Ali was found guilty of failing to comply with planning enforcement notices in April 2018 at Willesden Magistrates Court, after investigations by Brent’s planning enforcement team. The case was then referred to Harrow Crown Court for confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Detailed investigations carried out by Brent’s

financial investigators and Brent’s planning enforcement officers revealed the extent of the number of illegal dwellings created and the illicit earnings made by illegally renting out the properties, which were owned by Mr Ali and his father. The properties were used as houses in multiple occupation and as undersized flats. Planning enforcement officers at Brent Council

discovered up to 15 people living in some of the homes including, in one property, a family of four in one room, a family of three in another and three single men in yet another. The council said the

housing, owned by Mohammed Mehdi Ali and his father, was some of the worst its officers had ever seen. It added that those renting the properties appeared to be largely from eastern Europe and Brazil. Councillor Shama Tatler, Lead Member for

Regeneration, Property and Planning, said “This is another huge win for Brent. The council will take robust action to prevent the creation of poor quality housing. This penalty sends a clear message that rogue landlords will not be allowed to get away with ignoring planning laws. “The accommodation provided was some of the

worst residential accommodation that officers have ever come across. Brent will not tolerate this type of behaviour, landlords providing such horrible conditions. Brent residents deserve better.” The prosection follows an earlier £544,000

confiscation order against his father, Salah Mahdi Ali, in the court of appeal in 2014 that involved criminal earnings on two of the same properties. He had converted four homes into 38 flats without planning consent. The largest part of Mohammed Mehdi Ali’s

illegal earnings came from a complex of flats built above and behind a minicab office, which earned him nearly £90,000 a year on average, largely from housing benefits payments, according to the council’s investigators. His father had earned hundreds of thousands of

pounds on the same property before he was convicted of failing to comply with a planning enforcement order relating to its conversion into 12 flats without permission. The original 2010 crown court judgment said Salah Mahdi Ali had been living “a criminal lifestyle”.

Crown Court judge has ordered a landlord to pay back £739,263.58 in illicit earnings made from overcrowded properties in

Bogus landlord is fined after years of illegal subletting

A head tenant who posed as a landlord has been hit with fines and costs totalling £9,047.50, after they illegally sub-let a flat in north west London to other tenants but left them exposed to a variety to safety and financial concerns. Mrs Sonia Nascimento rented a converted,

four-bedroom flat from a private landlord in St Paul’s Avenue, Willesden from 2017, but subsequently went on to sub-let the property to other tenants. None of the other tenants had a tenancy agreement and their rental deposits were not protected in any way. Last year one of the tenants reported Mrs

Nascimento to Brent Council’s private housing services team, complaining about the lack of a tenancy agreement. A subsequent inspection of the flat discovered the property was without a House in Multiple Occupation licence, and that Mrs Nascimento, who did not live in the flat anymore, was in breach of housing management regulations. The council issued Mrs Nascimento with a £5,000 Civil Penalty Notice but she refused to pay it, so the council took her to court. Willesden Magistrates Court found her guilty of failing to take measures to protect the occupiers of the HMO from injury. The magistrates heard a lack

20 | HMM April/May 2021 |

of smoke alarms and a fire safety system put all the flat’s occupants in danger, including a four- month-old baby. Councillor Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet Member

for Housing and Welfare Reform, said: “Most landlords recognise the important responsibilities that come with it. Landlords who fail to licence their properties or who are not following housing management regulations are breaking the law. Safety of tenants is our priority and we encourage anyone who suspect that their landlord may be acting outside the law to report their concerns to us.”

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