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Family dwelling flat carve up landlord fined £5k

A landlord who carved up a family home into various different flats in order to increase his profit margins has paid the price after Waltham Forest Council brought a prosecution against him.

The Council seeks to protect larger homes from conversion to smaller self-contained homes and Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) – to coin the technical phrase – in order to protect the borough’s housing stock.

Mornington Road is located in Leytonstone, which is a Restricted Conversion Ward. This means that any conversion from a single family dwelling to an HMO/flat conversion will be resisted on principle by the Council, due to the fact that the use results in the loss of a further family sized home.

The change of use also runs contrary to national and regional policies which seek a range of residential sizes and tenures throughout the borough, with a focus on larger family sized homes.

So when the Council discovered that Mr Carlos Alejandro Martinez of Mornington Road, Leytonstone was converting 32 Mornington Road from a single family dwelling into a number of flats in 2014 it took action, issuing two Planning Enforcement Notices and a Temporary Stop Notice to try to prevent work continuing.

Alas Mr Martinez failed to comply with the Notices that demanded he cease all operational works to convert the property into anything other than its authorised use as a single dwelling house.

The Notices specifically said that Mr Martinez should remove all forms of subdivision from the first and second floor of the property, remove all kitchens, and remove the front basement lightwell and restore the front garden to its previous condition.

Ultimately Mr Martinez’s decision to ignore the Notices led to the Council taking the prosecution. Mr Martinez pled guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court and was sentenced on 2 December.

The Court accepted that he had attempted to adhere to the requirements of the Notices prior to sentencing and that the property has been returned back to a single dwelling, albeit the matter of the lightwell remains outstanding.

His Honour Judge English stated at the hearing that the offences appeared to have been motivated by a desire to cash in. He said that Mr Martinez was out to exploit the London housing boom for all it was worth and make gains at other people’s expense and in total disregard of the planning regime.

The Judge said that while he accepted that Mr Martinez incurred considerable expense from this development and it would have eaten into any potential profit, planning laws must not be sidestepped.

Mr Martinez was fined a total of £3,000 for breaching the Enforcement Notices and ordered to pay the Council’s costs for mounting the prosecution to the tune of £1,916. He was also ordered to pay a Victim Surcharge of £300, leaving him with a total bill of £5,216.

The Judge also ordered that if Mr Martinez fails to make payment of this sum within 28 days that there will be a default sentence of two months’ imprisonment.

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