A landlord has been fined nearly £500,000 by a town hall after it was discovered he had illegally divided one house into eight tiny flats.
The council says it is the biggest penalty it has ever given, after an investigation that took more than seven years.
Farook Owadally, 55, bought the Victorian property in Marylands Road, Maida Vale for £965,000 in 2008.
The Croydon man illegally converted the entire property, from the basement to its third floor, into eight flats, some only the size of one small room.
Over 10 years, he was able to raise “huge profits,” by charging monthly rents of £1,000, Westminster council said.
The council said its “driving force” for prosecuting Owadally, an accountant, was for the safety of his tenants.
Several of the flats did not meet the minimum-size requirement of 37sqm for one-bedroomed flats. One was just 18sqm.
Councillor Richard Beddoe, the council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “This is a straightforward case of the law catching up with an unscrupulous person.
“Our planning teams aren’t just ticking boxes and filling in forms for fun – we have planning rules for a reason, to make sure housing is fit for purpose and safe.”
On September 3, at Southwark Crown Court, Owadally was ordered to pay a £400,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act. And he was made to pay a £90,000 fine.
The court heard how Westminster Council first warned Owadally in 2012, and ordered him to restore
the property to its original state.
The council said it has a priority to build more affordable housing, and is on track to build a at least 1,850 of them by 2023.