Landlord who illegally evicted tenant successfully prosecuted
Winchester City Council has successfully prosecuted a private landlord after he harassed and then illegally evicted a tenant in November 2016 contrary to the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
Simon Knight now of Norwood Green, was convicted on 1 February 2018 following a trial at Southampton Magistrates Court. The court heard that Knight had told his tenant to move out of the property at Langton Road, Bishops Waltham but did not take the necessary steps to terminate the tenancy legally.
Instead Knight embarked on a course of conduct intended to force his tenant to leave the property by failing to repair the oven door, washing machine, tumble dryer and kitchen extractor fan. Knight’s actions also included removing the tenant’s bedroom door and bed, padlocking the communal bathroom door shut and disconnecting the power to the shower.
When these measures failed, he unlawfully evicted his tenant by changing the locks whilst he was out, preventing him from entering the property and denying him access to his belongings and essential medication - due to this he was left homeless for two nights.
The tenant reported Knight’s actions against him to Winchester City Council. Following the Council's own investigation, credible circumstances were discovered supporting concerns that the eviction was illegal. The Council therefore pursued legal action against the landlord.
District Judge Greenfield sentenced Knight at Southampton Magistrates’ Court to 12 weeks imprisonment suspended for a period of 2 years. In addition, he imposed upon Knight a curfew for a period of 16 weeks between the hours of 8pm and 6am and ordered him to pay £2,000 compensation to his former tenant for the distress he had suffered as a consequence of these offences. Judge Greenfield also ordered Knight to pay the Council’s full costs of bringing the prosecution to court which totalled £8,490 in addition to a Victim Surcharge of £115.
Portfolio Holder for Housing and Leader of Winchester City Council, Councillor Caroline Horrill commented on the successful prosecution.
This result sends a strong message that the City Council will not tolerate rogue landlords taking advantage of their tenants private rented accommodation being in an unfit or unsafe condition. Whilst we have a positive relationship with most landlords in the District, the actions of this landlord were evidentially unacceptable and resulted in real hardship for the tenant he illegally evicted.
From 6 April 2018 the Council will have additional powers relating to so-called ‘rogue landlords’.
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 will allow local authorities to apply to the First-Tier Tribunal for a banning order prohibiting any person convicted of ‘banning order offences’ from:
- Letting houses
- Engaging in letting agency work.
- Engaging in property management work.
Applicable offences include those as described above under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 as well as offences under the Housing Act 2004 such as failing to comply with an improvement notice or a prohibition order, offences in relation to licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), fire and gas safety offences and many more.
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 will also create a national database of rogue landlords/letting agents, which will be maintained by local authorities.
To report any concerns about privately rented accommodation contact the council’s private sector housing team on 01962 848 526 or email _PrivateSectorHousing@winchester.gov.uk