Published: Tuesday, 6th August 2019
A rogue landlord who ran an illegal hostel in the former Convent of Mercy in Swanley, has been handed a £15,000 fine after a hearing at Woolwich Crown Court on Friday 2 August 2019.
Forty-four year old Mr Mustafa Kemal Mustafa, from 21 Briar Lane, West Wickham, Bromley BR4 9RA was found guilty of breaching a planning enforcement notice issued by Sevenoaks District Council in 2016.
Following the weeklong Crown Court trial and a unanimous guilty verdict from the jury, the Judge imposed a fine of £5,000 plus £10,000 in costs awarded to the Council.
The planning enforcement notice, issued on 14 December 2016, ordered Mr Mustafa to cease using the former Convent of Mercy in Swanley as a hostel as it did not have planning permission.
Mr Mustafa ignored the notice and continued to house people in the former Convent until the Council obtained a closure order from Sevenoaks Magistrates’ on 11 May 2018 following repeated anti-social behaviour.
This latest action by Sevenoaks District Council was supported by Kent Fire & Rescue Service, Kent Police and other agencies.
Cllr Lesley Dyball, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, says: "There is no doubt, people living in the former Convent of Mercy were at risk. This was an unsafe, unfit property operating without permission and neighbours had endured unacceptable anti-social behaviour for far too long. Despite the Council and our partners taking action on a range of issues, Mr Mustafa failed to deal with the problems.”
"The safety of our residents is a top priority and the substantial fine demonstrates the seriousness of this case."
This former convent site has been subject to ongoing anti-social behaviour and safety concerns dating back to 2014:
Kent Police attended the site on a number of occasions to follow up on reports of anti-social behaviour and crime, on one occasion seizing a stolen vehicle
The Council issued a Community Protection Warning and Community Protection Notice in January and October 2016 following anti-social behaviour and litter
In April 2014, and again in January 2016, the Council served abatement notices for bonfire and noise nuisances
The Council issued four informal warnings to clear up and repair the building between 2015 and 2016 and two further informal building control warnings following unauthorised building works
Two planning enforcement notices were issued in 2016 following unauthorised building works that required planning permission
Following fire safety concerns, Kent Fire & Rescue Service issued an Improvement Notice in March 2016 and a Prohibition Notice in March 2017
The Environment Agency issued a Stop Notice in June 2017 as there were concerns the site was being used as car repair business without permission
The Health and Safety Executive served five safety notices following concerns about the safety of the electrical supply and other safety issues.