October 20 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, June 12, 2014
A property tycoon who tried to rent out a tiny “shoebox” apartment for almost £750 per month is at loggerheads with Islington Council after it forcibly removed the home from the market.
The council has launched an investigation after landlord Andrew Panayi, 67, who owns more than 40 properties in and around Caledonian Road, advertised the tiny flat with just inches between the bed and kitchen cupboards in Kember Street, Islington, on website Rightmove.
Labour councillor for Caledonian ward, Paul Convery, said the case was likely to be taken to court after Islington Council issued an order to prevent the flat from being rented out, claiming it did not meet its minimum standards for housing size and did not have appropriate planning permission.
Cllr Convery insisted that the flat was “just too small” and had been granted planning permission up to four years ago for the purpose of student accommodation, with single bedrooms and larger communal kitchens along a corridor.
He said: “Andrew knows people are desperate. He thinks he’s found a loophole, and managed to hide the conversions for four years. We think he’s wrong and we’ll probably see him in court on this one.
“The building was designed as a student housing development, and he has surreptitiously turned them into self-contained studio flats.”
Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing, said: “This place is a shoebox, not a flat, so we’re serving a prohibition order to stop it being rented out again. We are also urgently inspecting the other flats in this block to see if they are flouting the rules too.
“It shows how grim London’s housing crisis has become when tenants can be exploited like this – and yet down the road new properties are being snapped up by investors and often sitting empty.”
Mr Panayi has previously faced controversy when he appeared on a BBC documentary in 2012 and told cameras he would “keep milking” the market.
The 67-year-old also told the cameras that he “builds first and asks permission later”, prompting a 100-strong petition calling for the town hall to hold a public meeting to discuss his business.
It also spurred on a group of residents to set up a group called Cally Cows – in reference to Mr Panayi’s desire to “milk” his properties – to campaign against him but their Twitter account has been inactive since last year.
Mr Panayi refused to comment on the matter when approached by the Gazette.