A landlord who built up a property empire worth an estimated £1.8 million by illegally converting houses into multiple flats has been ordered by Harrow Crown Court to pay £310,000 in fines. If he fails to pay the fine within six months, he faces a possible three and a half years in prison.
Vispasp Sarkari is said to have bought rundown terraced and semi-detached houses and illegally divided them into flats without planning permission, renting them out to tenants who were desperate for accommodation. Sarkari has already served a jail sentence for credit card fraud and has another conviction for breaching fire regulations at one of his properties.
Unusually, the action, brought jointly by Brent and Harrow councils, was under the Proceeds of Crime Act, which allows much higher fines than planning laws which would be the usual basis for a prosecution. The rogue landlord was ordered to pay £303,000 based on the rent he had collected in his four properties since 2005. He was also ordered to pay a fine of £7,515 for breaching planning regulations and legal costs of more than £18,000.
Keith Ferry, of Harrow Council, said “This landlord ignored planning rules designed to ensure the quality of accommodation in the boroughs is maintained and that the environment for surrounding residents is protected. He ignored the council’s notices. As a result he profited hugely from this sub-standard accommodation. This sort of behaviour will not be tolerated in Harrow.”