Record-breaking £1.5m penalty for “Slumlord Millionaire” who built an illegal boxroom bedsit empire across North West London

A notorious rogue landlord must pay £1,500,000 or spend nine years behind bars after justice caught up with him at Harrow Crown Court last Friday (30 November).

The court found that Vispasp Sarkari had flouted planning rules for more than five  years – converting properties across Brent and Harrow into substandard flats without planning permission.

Sarkari, 56, of Hawthorne Avenue, Harrow, had been cramming tenants into cramped and dangerous accommodation – charging them extortionate amounts in rent. His criminal enterprise included one property in Brent illegally converted into eight substandard box-room bedsits and four more similarly converted in Harrow.

He defied all planning enforcement warnings by both councils to stop the use of his properties and carried on with his criminal venture raking in thousands of pounds from people desperate to have a roof over their head.

Cllr Tom Miller, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said:

“Slum landlords won’t be tolerated - plain and simple. If you ignore planning laws or leave tenants to languish in poor conditions, then we will find you, we will take action in court, and we will win. Anyone we find flouting planning or exploiting renters will feel a deep hole in their pockets after we’ve taken them to task.”

Sarkari was also separately fined £12,000 and ordered to pay both councils’ costs in full. It’s believed that he may have several further properties across the two boroughs – making him responsible for a significant proportion of illegal flat conversions and HMOs blighting North West London.

Cllr Keith Ferry, Harrow Council’s cabinet member for planning, said:

“Justice means taking the ill-gotten gains off this slumlord millionaire. This is a man who thought he couldn’t be stopped. He was wrong, and thanks to our joint work with Brent Council, Sarkari’s criminal venture is finished.

“But he’s not the only rackrent landlord out there, wrecking lives and ruining our boroughs by running illegal flats and HMOs. My message to the others is this: we’ll never stop, we’ll never give up, and when we catch you, we’ll punish you too.”

Extensive inquiries by both councils established the extent of Mr Sarkari’s criminal activity. Brent also secured a restraint order against Mr Sarkari which means that he cannot dispose of his assets before the order is paid in full. If he doesn't pay up, then the Council can force the sale of his properties.

In sentencing Mr Sarkari, Judge Wood described the breaches as “a flagrant abuse of the Town and Country Planning legislation”.  She went on to thank everybody involved for their hard work in putting the case forward.

Harrow and Brent were represented by Counsel Mr Edmund Robb of Prospect Law. He said: “The Confiscation Order of almost £1.5 m which has been made in this case represents major recognition by the Crown Court of the personal misery and amenity damage which is caused by blatant and longstanding failures by developers to comply with planning enforcement notices issued by local authorities in London.”