A landlord has been ordered to pay thousands of pounds by a judge for illegally letting out an outbuilding for more than three years.
Paul Vig admitted failing to comply with a Planning Enforcement Notice which prohibited the outbuilding being used as a self-contained residence which he was letting out.
The structure in the garden of a house in Reddington Drive, Langley, had a shower room, a washing machine and white goods which allowed it to be a self-contained property – also known as a ‘bed in a shed’.
A planning enforcement notice was issued for the property in 2015. However, when the 58-year-old applied for a compulsory licence for a house in multiple occupation, or HMO, it was discovered although some of the white goods had been removed, it contained everything needed to be an independent self-contained unit.
Mr Vig and his wife, Maria Vig, appeared at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday 6 October, for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, as they benefitted from letting out the property at £160 per week. Each had admitted a single charge of being in contravention of an enforcement notice contrary to section 179 Town and County Planning Act 1990, between 21 September 2016 and 24 July 2019.
Mr Vig, of Scotlands Drive, Farnham Common, was fined £5,000 for flouting the enforcement notice. The fine was ordered to be paid within six months or he would face a three-month prison sentence. He was also ordered to pay £8,161.67 towards the council’s costs.
Mrs Vig, 40, of Fawsley Close, Colnbrook, was given a six-month conditional discharge with Judge Emma Nott stating she was just a landlord by name on documentation and all responsibilities were undertaken by her then husband. She was ordered to pay the remaining council costs of £4,000.
In her judgement, Judge Nott said: “I am satisfied that Mr Vig knew full well that the continued commercial use of the outbuilding was in breach of the enforcement notice.
“Photographs dated 24 July 2019 show a kitchenette – washing machine, microwave, fridge freezer, washing facilities, cupboards with food and glassware. With or without the kitchen equipment, this is a self-contained unit of accommodation and the tenancy agreements show that this is how it was let.
“As a commercial landlord he has a clear duty to understand and comply with all rules, regulations and notices pertaining to the properties he rents out.
“The offending is aggravated by the length of time over which it was committed, the fact that it was committed for financial gain, the poverty of amenity provided by the property to the tenant of the outbuilding and the adverse effect on the tenant of the main property.”
Councillor Beni Bains, cabinet member for regulation and public protection, said: “Beds in sheds will not be tolerated in the borough.
“They are not suitable accommodation for the resident and they are just designed to make money out of the most vulnerable.
“Planning enforcement will continue to seek out landlords who act in this unlawful way.”