Landlords must ensure that they act within the law when seeking possession of a property, Carter Lemon Camerons’ dispute resolution partner Lisa Ginesi has said.
Georgina East, director of Propertarian Limited – a Staffordshire-based property management company – was ordered to pay a fine and costs of almost £3,000 after using threatening behaviour towards a tenant.
The 62-year-old admitted unlawfully evicting a tenant under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
Stafford Magistrates heard that the defendant had deliberately had the locks changed at her tenant’s property, following the dispute in December last year.
The tenant was left with no other option but to sleep rough, and he subsequently lodged a complaint with officers at Tamworth Borough Council.
Launching an investigation into the incident, the local authority officials found that East had evicted the tenant without giving valid written notice, or seeking possession for the property through the courts.
It also emerged that the defendant had attempted to persuade the tenant to leave by threatening him with an Alsatian dog
The bench was told that East had accepted a caution for a similar offence when trying to unlawfully evict a tenant in 2013, but following the latest incident the court took decisive action.
She was issued an order to pay the fine and costs within seven days.
The law requires landlords to go through the County Court to seek possession of a property that has a tenant. Only a bailiff appointed by the court has the right to evict a tenant that refuses to leave.
Unlawfully evicting or harassing tenants to gain possession of a property may lead to the landlord being served with an unlimited fine, a prison sentence of up to two years, or both.
For further advice on the legislation relating to eviction please contact Lisa Ginesi.