Nine years' rent confiscated from Landlord

21 February 2020

A landlord has been ordered to pay back an eye-watering £190k after he was caught making rent from illegal flats.

A confiscation order was made against Olu Soyebo, 61, of Lagos, Nigeria, after he failed to comply with a planning enforcement notice and now he has just 3 months to pay the money back or else face prison.

Harrow Crown Court heard how the property on Windsor Crescent, Wembley, had been converted into flats without planning permission back in 2009, and Brent’s enforcement team served a notice on him.

But follow-ups found the flats were reinstated by Soyebo and were rented out separately, this time for over nine years.

At Harrow Crown Court, sentencing, his Honour Judge Tregilgas-Davey told Soyebo that the breach had continued for a ‘not insignificant period of time’ and that financial investigators from Brent Council were able to prove how much money he’d made in illegal rent.

He said: “You entirely ignored the foreseeable risk when you converted [the property] into two flats without planning permission.”

The judge criticised Soyebo for failing to put measures in place to ensure that the council’s warning letters, which were sent to several known addresses in London, would reach him at his home in Nigeria. The Court heard it wasn’t Soyebo’s first enforcement notice.

In 2001 a notice was served on him when the property was being used as a house in multiple occupation without planning permission.

The judge said his past brush with the planning enforcement system demonstrated Soyebo must have known the likely consequences of his actions.

As well as the confiscation order, he was fined £12k and ordered to pay the Council’s legal costs.

Councillor Shama Tatler, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for  Regeneration, Property & Planning said: “This is a great result, and puts rogue landlords on notice that Brent council will take very strong action if they try to dodge the planning laws.”