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Slough landlord receives suspended jail sentence for illegal flats

Words: Laura Edgar
Landlord fined / iStock-471370283

A landlord has been handed a suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of hiding families in windowless flats that didn’t have planning permission.

Slough Borough Council refused Talwinder Singh, 57, permission to build a block of six flats – but he built them anyway in Waterbeach Road, Manor Park, Slough.

He was served a planning enforcement notice in September 2010, but continued to rent out the six flats to tenants. Singh informed the council’s building control and council tax departments that the property had been returned to a single dwelling in line with the enforcement notice.

Singh installed temporary kitchens in the illegal flats, which were dismantled and removed when council officers were set to visit. He removed windows on the top-floor attic flats to give the impression that the rooms were not being rented out, leaving tenants who had children without any natural light. Tenants were charged an additional fee for council tax despite paying Slough Borough Council for only the one property he had declared.

On 21 March at Reading Crown Court, Judge Paul Dugdale told Singh he was an experienced landlord who had been “greedy” and prepared to inconvenience tenants to maintain the façade.

Singh admitted two charges of failure to comply with an enforcement notice between December 2011 and December 2017, as well as the false representation in December 2012, contrary to the Fraud Act 2006.

Dugdale sentenced Singh to a 15-month prison term, which is suspended for 18 months. Singh was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £266,177, which was confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and represents the illegal rent and unpaid council tax.

Slough Borough Council was awarded £18,826 in compensation for lost council tax and £23,130 in prosecution costs. Singh now has to return the flats to the permitted one or two properties as per the original planning consent.

Joe Carter, director of regeneration, said: “People and families in Slough deserve good accommodation and landlords who are not overcharging them for services they are not providing.

“Such a successful outcome shows how the council will not tolerate such flagrant disregard of its planning regulations.”

Image credit | iStock