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Millionaire rogue landlord in court

David Vickers
"We hope this sentence will send out a strong message to landlords, in the Dudley borough and beyond, that failing to comply with planning laws most certainly does not pay." Cllr David Vickers, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for housing

A millionaire landlord who converted four homes in Dudley into 17 cramped flats and bedsits without permission has been ordered to pay nearly £350,000 by a court.

Latif ur Rehman was said to have profited illegally to the tune of nearly £280,000 by pocketing cash paid out by Dudley Council through housing benefit for his tenants.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard the crooked landlord had amassed assets of more than £1 million and was taking in around £150,000 a year just in rent from his property portfolio.

Rehman, from Harborne, Birmingham, was served with enforcement notices by Dudley Council in relation to the four properties. Two were in Cole Street, Netherton, one in Northfield Road, Netherton, and one in Wolverhampton Street in Dudley town centre.

The notices, issued in 2015, ordered him to convert the properties back to their original state. But despite pledges to comply, Rehman chose to ignore them and continued raking in the rent.

Rehman had previously pleaded guilty at Dudley Magistrates Court in February last year to four charges of breaching council enforcement notices. The case was committed to Wolverhampton Crown Court for sentence and to allow a Proceeds of Crime hearing to take place.

Rehman was fined £40,000. He must also pay Dudley Council’s costs of £25,898.34 in bringing the case.

The 58-year-old has been given three months to repay £278,028.20 under the Proceeds of Crime Act, or face up to three years in jail.

Solicitor Mr Mark Jackson, prosecuting at court on behalf of Dudley Council, said:

“The defendant owns and rents out numerous properties.

“In relation to the four properties that feature in this case, he converted the properties into flats and bedsits without planning permission.

“He then rented out the flats and bedsits and received rent by way of housing benefit payments from Dudley Council.

“His income from property rental is estimated to be in excess of £150,000 per annum.

“In respect of each property an enforcement notice was served requiring him to cease renting the flats or bedsits, and to effectively carry out works to convert each property back to a single dwelling.

“In respect of each property he chose to ignore the enforcement notice and continued to rent them out.”

Councillor David Vickers, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for housing, said:

“We welcome the sentence of the court, following a long and protracted battle to get Mr Rehman to comply with planning laws.

“Dudley Council has bent over backwards to afford Mr Rehman every opportunity to comply with the enforcement notices.

“He was given extension after extension. But all he did was use that time to obtain more rent, and in some cases divide his properties into even more flats.

“We hope this sentence will send out a strong message to landlords, in the Dudley borough and beyond, that failing to comply with planning laws most certainly does not pay. We will be seeking aggressively, with the help of the courts, to get back every penny he unlawfully pocketed from us as quickly as possible.”

After inspection visits by Dudley Council planning officers in early 2015 uncovered the flats, the court heard Rehman pledged in May that year to carry out works within six months.

But follow-up visits in September 2015 revealed no work had been done, and indeed in some cases further sub-division was taking place.

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