A judge has ordered a rogue landlord from Deptford to pay more than £282,000 after he illegally converted a building into “grossly undersized flats” and rented them to families.  

One flat in the Old Kent Road property, which was not big enough for one person, was rented out to at least eight people.  

Southwark Council brought Shafait Ali to court after it found he had converted the first and second floor of the building, designated for office or light industrial use, into five “cramped, sub-standard” flats without planning permission.  

The 51-year-old illegally charged tenants £259,475 in rent, which he must pay back along with more than £23,000 in costs and a fine.  

He faces two and half years in prison if he fails to pay up. 

At his sentencing hearing at Inner London Crown Court on November 10 he was also ordered to cease the unauthorised residential use of the building and to remove all fittings installed that enabled the conversion.  

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A council inspection in 2017 found that “at least” eight people were living in a flat too small for one person. 

The flat was 35 square metres in area – two metres below the minimum for a one person flat. 

It had three bedrooms, one with no windows and each bedroom had at least two bunk beds in it. 

Council officers found there was no adequate means of escape for tenants if there was a fire and no alarms or smoke detectors.  

There was no heating in some bedrooms and some bathrooms had no ventilation.  

Some exit routes were through kitchens, while electrical sockets were found in bathrooms. 

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The council’s planning enforcement team, who led the investigation, found the size of the flats to be “well below minimum residential standards”.  

They found they were “so poorly constructed” that they “could never be granted planning permission”.  

“Some of the flats were rented to families even though they fell well short of the minimum dwelling size standards for occupancy by one or two persons,” a council spokesperson said. 

Ali pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to comply with a planning enforcement notice under the Town and County Planning Act 1990 in June 2018. 

The council has issued nearly £1.5 million in confiscation orders to rogue landlords since 2019.

Councillor Johnson Situ, cabinet member for climate emergency, planning, and transport said: “We believe that everyone deserves a place that they’re proud to call home so it’s deeply shocking that families were cramped into properties not even big enough for one or two people.  

“This is a great result and another success for our planning and trading Standards teams, whose joint efforts have amounted to nearly £1.5 million in confiscation orders issued to landlords renting out illegally converted properties in Southwark since 2019.  

“The council remains committed to taking tough action against criminal landlords who would profit from the misery of their tenants by renting illegal and sub-standard properties.”