Landlord who broke planning rules must pay £143,000

A man who turned three houses into rental flats without planning permission has been hit with a £143,000 court bill.

It included £112,500 in illegally gained rent which was confiscated after he was convicted three times for breaching planning enforcement notices, following three prosecutions by Richmond Council in Surrey.


Piara Singh Sehajpal was fined £21,000 after breaching the enforcement notices under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. He turned one house into four flats, one into nine flats and a third into three flats.

At Kingston Crown Court, Judge Georgina Kent was told by Richmond Council prosecutors that father of four Sehajpal had rented rooms at around £800 per month each, despite not having planning consent.

Each property was subject to a separate planning enforcement notice that allowed six months for the property to be returned to a family home. Planning enforcement officers visited and wrote to the defendant so he was aware of the planning consent required.

Sehajpal admitted three offences in front of magistrates last year and in March 2011 of breaching three Richmond Council enforcement notices requiring him to return the properties to single homes. His case was transferred to Crown Court for sentencing and for a confiscation order to be dealt with.

When he appeared before the crown court judge, he was sentenced to a fine of £7,000 per offence, amounting to £21,000.

He was further ordered to pay £9,973 towards the council’s prosecution costs. Sehajpal must pay the full amount within 12 months or face 18 months in prison.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the judge also made a confiscation order for £112,500, taking away the financial benefit to his offending behaviour through letting out the properties without planning permission.

In a statement, Sehajpal, of Iver, Bucks, described the offences as “minor breaches of planning law” that were a “matter of naivety” on his part.

In her ruling, Judge Kent said undermining planning controls was offensive to neighbours and caused them distress and upset. She said Sehajpal knew he needed consent to convert the three family homes to flats, but had a blatant disregard for planning controls to make money.