Brent's 'slumlord millionaire' handed record £1.5million fine - and will face nine years' jail if he doesn't pay
PUBLISHED: 19:00 14 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:36 17 December 2018
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A rogue landlord and "slumlord millionaire" who crammed tenants into tiny flats must pay a record-breaking £1.5million or spend the next nine years in jail.
Vispasp Sarkari, 56, of Hawthorne Avenue, Harrow, was given the ultimatum by Judge Lana Wood at Harrow Court on November 30.
The court heard how Sarkari flouted planning rules for more than five years by converting properties across Brent and Harrow into substandard flats without planning permission,
His criminal racket included one property in Brent illegally converted into eight box-like bedsits and four similar set-ups in Harrow.
Sarkari defied all planning enforcement warnings by both councils to stop the use of his properties and continued to extort thousands of pounds from people desperate to have somewhere to live, Brent Council said.
In sentencing Mr Sarkari, Judge Wood described the breaches as “a flagrant abuse of the town and country planning legislation”.
Brent Council’s crime chief Cllr Tom Miller said: “Slum landlords won’t be tolerated – plain and simple.
“If you ignore planning laws or leave tenants to languish in poor conditions, then we will find you, we will take action in court, and we will win.
“Anyone we find flouting planning or exploiting renters will feel a deep hole in their pockets after we’ve taken them to task.”
Sarkari was also separately fined £12,000 and ordered to pay both councils’ costs in full. It’s believed that he may have several further properties across the two boroughs – making him responsible for a significant proportion of illegal flat conversions and HMOs blighting north west London.
Cllr Keith Ferry, Harrow Council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “Justice means taking the ill-gotten gains off this slumlord millionaire. This is a man who thought he couldn’t be stopped. He was wrong, and thanks to our joint work with Brent Council, Sarkari’s criminal venture is finished.”
Harrow and Brent were represented by Counsel Mr Edmund Robb of Prospect Law. He said: “The confiscation order of almost £1.5m which has been made in this case represents major recognition by the crown court of the personal misery and amenity damage which is caused by blatant and longstanding failures by developers to comply with planning enforcement notices issued by local authorities in London.”