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Landlord faces £85,000 bill for unlawfully letting “substandard” flat

Action from Islington Council has left a landlord with a bill of more than £85,000 for unlawfully letting a basement flat.

As part of a planning enforcement crackdown in the Caledonian Road area, the council asked a major local landlord to ensure all his properties were being used lawfully in planning terms.

When the landlord applied to confirm the use of one flat in particular - Basement Flat, 374 Caledonian Road, N1 - was lawful, it emerged that flat was subject to an enforcement notice. This notice been complied with by the flat's previous landlord but was being flouted by the current owner.

The enforcement notice said the flat was “an unsatisfactory and substandard unit of residential accommodation” with “inadequate light and outlook and poor living environment”.  The notice required unauthorised use of the basement as a self-contained flat to cease. The council initiated legal action against the owner.

On June 22, 2015, Andrew Costi Panayi of 243 Caledonian Road pleaded guilty to breach of a planning enforcement notice relating to the unauthorised use of the basement flat at 374 Caledonian Road.

At a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing on Friday 16 October at Blackfriars Crown Court, Mr Panayi was ordered to pay a fine of £2000; a costs award of £15,900, and was issued a confiscation order of £70,000 in relation to the profits made from renting the basement flat.

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council's executive member for housing, said: “More and more people in Islington are renting privately, and we are determined to help make sure they have decent homes to live in.

“Most landlords act lawfully – but when rogue landlords break the rules, we will go after them.”

Council officers inspected the property again earlier this year and established the basement is no longer being used for accommodation.

Tenants in Islington with concerns about their landlords, or landlords seeking guidance on how to meet legislation, can call 0207 527 3001.