Landlords: Your Assets Could Be Seized If Your Tenants Break Planning Law
A law designed to capture drug dealers' profits has been used to seize assets from a landlord whose tenant broke the planning laws.
The £174K confiscation is a sign to landlords that they cannot hide behind their tenants. The court explicitly pinned the blame on the landlord as a warning to others.
The court decided to take £174K in rent and other income from the landlord, using the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
As well as having £174K confiscated, the landlord also received a heavy fine.
The property in Rusholme, central Manchester, was operated as a shisha café, without planning consent and in breach of enforcement notices. Internal changes had also been made without planning consent.
T&M Property Investment Ltd — the owner of a 999-year lease for the property at 82 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, which it let out — has also been ordered to pay a fine of £18,750, along with court costs of £5,700 after the property was found operating as an illegal shisha café.
The T&M Property owned the lease to the building, have been held responsible for allowing the shisha café at their premises following an enforcement notice that required them as landlord to cease the operation.
The judge at Manchester Crown Court explicitly pinned the blame on the landlord as a warning to other landlords.
In sentencing, His Honour Judge Timothy Smith said: “It was for that company to ensure that the tenant did what it was supposed to do. It simply failed to do so. It would be wrong to send out a signal to those that are landlords, that they can hide behind their tenants. It is for the landlords to take steps.”
T&M Property Investment Ltd was sentenced following a guilty plea at a Manchester Crown Court hearing on Friday 5 May to offences committed under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
Specialist financial investigators were also set to work, allowing the court to issue confiscation orders for money generated by illegal activities.
The confiscation order on T&M Property Investments Limited is payable by 4 August.
The legal action ends five years of dispute. In September 2018, council enforcement officers became aware that Dubai Café, operating from the building owned by T&M Property Investment Ltd, was a shisha bar in contravention of planning permissions.
An enforcement notice that ordered the landlord to cease the operation as a shisha café and remove all works that did not have planning permission was therefore issued.
Despite numerous attempts by the council to secure compliance with the notice, including entering the premises on two occasions to seize shisha pipes and tobacco, it was still being used as a shisha café more than four years later.