Joint owners successfully prosecuted for substandard flats in Camden
On 16 June 2020, joint owners of a Camden property were found guilty of illegally sub-dividing the building into seven substandard flats.
Following a long running case, that originally saw Camden Council issuing a planning enforcement notice in 2010, Joel Salem, 61 of Highview Gardens, Finchley and Judith Robinson-Dadoun, 53 of Brampton Grove, Hendon were both found guilty by a judge at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court, under section 179(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, for their failure to comply with an Enforcement Notice for the property at 52 Fortune Green Road.
“I am delighted by this verdict as it shows that Camden Council will not accept substandard accommodation and that we will strongly pursue the breach of planning enforcement notices.
“This should send a strong message to other landlords and building owners. You need to comply with planning rules and Camden will stand with our residents who deserve safe, good quality homes.”
During the course of the prosecution, the defendants repeatedly altered the basis of their defence. District Judge G. Allison, in her judgement stated: “…the defence has consistently failed in its duty under the Criminal Procedure Rules to assist the court in identifying the real issues in the case; this matter has been a true case of shifting sands...”
The judge was satisfied that both the defendants were the freehold owners of the land throughout the period in question, that the council’s Enforcement Notice was lawfully issued and served and that there was a continuing and long standing failure by the defendants to comply with its requirements.
The matter has now been committed by the District Judge to Wood Green Crown Court for sentencing and for confiscation proceedings to take place under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).
Despite the ongoing enforcement investigation and successful prosecution, the owners are yet to comply with the Enforcement Notice which states that they cease the use of the seven flats by removing bathrooms and kitchens.
- Following an investigation by the Council’s Planning Department between 2009 and 2010, an Enforcement Notice was served on 6 October 2010 and this was due to be complied with on 18 May 2011.
- The reason for taking enforcement action was summed up within the Notice as follows.The residential units by reason of their size in terms of bedroom numbers and floorspace figured do not provide a suitable mix of residential accommodation to meet housing needs within the Borough or an acceptable standard of living accommodation, contrary to the requirements of policies SD6 (Amenity for occupiers and neighbours), H1 (New Housing) and H8 (Mix of units) of the London Borough of Camden Unitary Development Plan (2006) and residential development standards (Space and room sizes) of the Camden Planning Guidance (2006).