A district council has successfully prosecuted a landlord who illegally evicted his tenant, locked him out of the house and disposed of all his belongings.
Sedgemoor District Council said the eviction had been planned whilst the tenant was working night shifts, with the tenant returning home early in the morning after work to find himself homeless and possession-less.
Taunton Magistrates Court handed the landlord a prison sentence of six months (suspended for 12 months). It also ordered him to pay compensation to his tenant of £3,000 and costs of £250 to the council.
Sedgemoor said that whilst the Bench accepted that the landlord had been ill, they took the decision that there were several aggravating features that made this a very serious offence.
The council said the tenant understood that he would get a month's notice, “which was in itself unlawful given the provisions of the Coronavirus Act which means that there is additional protection of six months”.
The landlord had been advised by the council’s housing team prior to the eviction, that he must abide by the law and “by his own admission the landlord chose not to do so”, Sedgemoor said.
The tenant lost all of his possessions "many of which were personal and irreplaceable".
In sentencing the landlord, the Chairman of the Bench is reported to have stated that the landlord had received the benefit of an early guilty plea and the fact that he was of previous good character and was ashamed of his actions. However, it was a very serious offence, hence the sentence.
Sedgemoor District Council said: “The majority of landlords are very willing to work with the council and are compliant with their obligations to their tenants. However, the council will continue to crack down on landlords who not complying with the Housing legislation which is in place to protect tenants.”