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Landlord ordered to pay £300k for “huge mistake”

A landlord who told a court he had made a “huge mistake” is paying the price for that error to the tune of £301,258 after Waltham Forest Council brought to a conclusion a long-running saga at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 30 January.

William Lao, a commercial landlord who owns 16 properties in the borough, was fined £73,500 and ordered to pay £217,758 of illegal earnings from renting out properties that were in breach of planning controls. He was also ordered to pay £10,000 towards the costs incurred by the Council.

“Some of the issues date back almost five years,” explained Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment. “So we’re really pleased to have finally brought this rogue landlord to account and seen him rightly punished for a catalogue of breaches.”

Mr Lao had added large roof and garden extensions to seven of his properties, in some instances virtually doubling their size and in all instances had converted every property into flats. In turn the landlord was able to greatly enhance his rental income, but all the time he was failing to apply for planning permission for the works.

While Waltham Forest Council made strenuous efforts to address the issues with the landlord by serving a number of Planning Enforcement Notices against him using the Town and Country Planning Act, Mr Lao refused to restore the properties to their original state.

Not only did he ignore the notices, but he rented the additional properties constructed, racking up hundreds of thousands of pounds in illegal income. In court, Mr Lao’s advocate asked for leniency in the sentence, saying his client realised his tactic for making money was a “huge mistake”.

The Court agreed a Confiscation Order of £217,758.26 under the Proceeds of Crime Act and Costs payable by Mr Lao of £10,000. He has six months to pay both, with the Confiscation Order subject to the condition that if it is not paid within that timeframe, Mr Lao will be subject to a default of 30 months’ imprisonment.

The total fine of £73,500 was made up of £10,000 for each of the seven Enforcement Notices that were ignored, £3,000 in relation to various breaches of Houses in Multiple Occupation regulations such as fire safety and being unlicensed, and £500 relating to an improvement notice and a failure to disclose ownership.

The properties were all in Leyton, close to the tube station. Two of the properties were in Dunedin Road, three in Goodall Road, one in Webster Road and one in Frith Road. In addition to the financial penalties imposed, all of the works carried out to Mr Lao’s properties will now have to be demolished and the properties returned to their original condition.

PHOTOS: Some of the works carried out to Mr Lao’s properties without planning permission.

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