A multi-millionaire property developer with a substantial Brixton portfolio has been prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Jerry Knight, director of Lexadon Property Group, was ordered to pay out more than £175,000 after renting out a building at 48 Trent Road, Brixton, as four flats without the proper planning permission.
Sentencing at Inner London Crown Court last month, Mr Recorder K King said that Knight “flagrantly pressed ahead and flouted the regulations.”
He ordered Lexadon Ltd to pay £143,134 that they made from renting out the property as flats, as well as a £13,000 fine and Lambeth’s £6,812 costs. Knight was also fined £13,000.
Knight claims there were mitigating circumstances in relation to the Trent Road property and that he already had planning permission for five flats but not four. He also says that an enforcement notice was sent to his old office – and that he never saw it.
He said: “Strictly speaking this needed a planning permission although of course I had the five flat permission as a fall back. An enforcement notice was issued and sent to a former registered office which we then never received. Therefore due to an administration error this was overlooked.”
He went on to tell The Brixton Bugle last week: “The confiscation order is the gross amount of rent received for the period that the property was unlawfully rented. No allowances are made for any expenses for the period.
“This is the first and only enforcement case against our company. We do consider ourselves responsible landlords and all our tenants live in safe environments. There are far more serious cases out there.”
According to the response to a FOI request submitted to Lambeth council, Knight’s company bought three Rushcroft Road mansion blocks from Lambeth council in January this year for a combined value of £7.5million, after shortlife tenants and squatters were evicted from the buildings.
Knight – previously listed in the Sunday Times Rich List as having an estimated wealth of £50million – began his career as a plumber before he began converting flats in Brixton and Clapham. He now has a huge property portfolio across the town centre.
Lexadon acquired the formerly squatted Clifton Mansions, Coldharbour Lane, from Lambeth council.
The firm also owns the Viaduct development and the former Angel pub, Coldharbour Lane, former Clapham Police Station, 435 Coldharbour Lane and many more properties locally. Another recent acquisition is the former Walton Lodge Laundry, next to Brixton Village.
Cllr Paul McGlone said income from developers like Jerry Knight was important for investment in “homes, schools, roads and pavements.” He added: “When developers play by the rules, we’re happy to work with them for the good of the borough… However, if developers press ahead without permission – as in this case – we will seek to take legal action against them.”
Lambeth council have so far failed to answer a question from The Brixton Blog and Bugle about how much money they have made from selling former council stock to Lexadon or Knight. They have also failed to reveal the process of how the properties were disposed of. We since found this information in a FOI response at whatdotheyknow.com, thanks to Adam Watt on Twitter.