A private landlord has been fined a record £1.4m and warned that if he does not pay up within six months, he could go to jail for ten years.
Salah Ali, 52, of Wembley, turned a house in Willesden Lane, north-west London, into 12 flats without planning permission.
Last week, a judge at Norwich Crown Court ordered Ali to pay a fine of £4,000 for breaching planning regulations; legal costs of almost £35,000; and a confiscation order of £1.438m.
A restraint order was also made, preventing him from disposing of his assets before paying up.
Brent Council will receive 37.5% – around £500,000 – of the confiscation order. The other 62.5% will go to the Treasury and the court collection agency.
The council said the £1.438m order, made using powers available to local authorities to recover the proceeds of crime, is believed to be the highest confiscation order for a planning offence anywhere in the country.
The figure was based on a calculation of the rent that Ali is believed to have received from tenants living in the property.
Chris Walker, Brent Council’s assistant director of planning, said: “This landlord ignored planning rules designed to ensure that the quality of accommodation in the borough is maintained and that the environment for surrounding residents is protected.
“He ignored the council’s notices, and as a result he profited hugely from this sub-standard accommodation.”