Fraudster’s six-year bid to own empty house

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A CONMAN embarked on a “thoroughly dishonest” six-year deception campaign in which he tried to assume ownership of an empty house in his neighbourhood, spending £14,000 on renovations in the process.

Leeds Crown Court heard Azar Iqbal lied on documents which he sent to the Land Registry in a bid to become the owner of the property as well as spending thousands of his own money on getting builders to renovate the derelict building.

John Bull, prosecuting, said the deception related to a house in Easterly Grove, Gipton, Leeds. The owner of the house initially bought it in 1984 for £22,000 but was left unoccupied for long periods from 1996 because of having to work elsewhere. By 2004 the owner moved out completely to care for his parents in the Birmingham area, but he continued to own the house and pay bills.

Iqbal wrote to the Land Registry and completed a “statement of truth” in a bid to become the legal proprietor of the house but the application was refused. He then entered the property on a number of occasions to do building work.

Iqbal also made arrangements through an agent to let the building out to tenants. The neighbour contacted police on occasions and changed the locks of the property, but Iqbal and builders kept returning.

Iqbal admitted two offences of fraud. Handing him a 12 month suspended sentence, suspended for two years, Judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, said: “What you did over this period of years was thoroughly dishonest.”