Two north London landlords who breached planning regulations by converting a house into seven studio flats have been ordered to pay a total of £116,000 following legal action from Islington Council.
The council had previously asked Efstratios Filis-Gelagotis and Andreas Charalambous to cease using the property at 52 Benwell Road, N7, as studios, after it was found that the property had been converted without proper planning permission.
Islington Council’s planning enforcement notice, issued in December 2013, required the unauthorised use of the single-family dwelling to studio flats to cease within six months.
However, the flats continued to be let out, despite further warning letters from the council, so a decision was taken to prosecute. On 12 October 2015 Filis-Gelagotis and Charalambous pleaded guilty to failure to comply with the enforcement notice.
At a hearing on 11 March 2016 at Blackfriars Crown Court, Filis-Gelagotis and Charalambous were ordered to pay a fine of £5,000 each and legal costs of £4,000 each. They were also each ordered to pay £49,000 – £98,000 together – made from renting out the flats between July 2014 and October 2015, under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, Cllr James Murray, said: “Planning regulations are put in place because they provide important protection to local residents. Ultimately, landlords who ignore planning law face losing months or even years of rental income and this can be, as in this case, a very large amount of money.”
The property has since been converted to a six-bedroom house in multiple occupancy, after planning permission was granted in October last year.