Councils are cracking down on landlords who illegally evict their tenants

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016 - Local Government Association

Rogue landlords are being weeded out by councils for some of the worst cases of illegal eviction, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

The LGA revealed that four councils had secured successful prosecutions in one month alone, with two of the landlords narrowly avoiding a prison sentence after forcing tenants out of their home without following the correct procedure.

Cases highlighted by the LGA include:

In Birmingham, a landlord was prosecuted for illegally evicting a couple and their seven children from their home, changing the locks and shoving the family into the garage. The offence cost him more than £2,000.

Also in Birmingham, a landlord was forced to pay more than £5,000 after illegally evicting a mother and her 11-year-old son, putting her belongings in the garden and changing the locks. When she regained access using a locksmith he had the locks drilled out, leaving her too scared to stay at the property.

In North East Lincolnshire, a landlord received a suspended prison sentence after a tenant returned to the flat to find the locks changed and some possessions removed. The landlord said he thought the tenant had left the property.

In Middlesbrough, a landlord was given a 12-month community order after forcing her way into a home and evicting a family with young children, bundling their possessions into black bags.

In Manchester, a landlord was fined £3,500 after removing a family illegally and making them homeless.

According to the LGA, while this represents good progress, they said it can take more than a year to prosecute a rogue landlord and the LGA is calling for the legal process to be speeded up to bring more illegal eviction cases to court.

Cllr Peter Box, LGA Housing spokesman, said:

Councils won’t hesitate to take irresponsible landlords to court and show the consequences they may face if they don’t apply the law correctly.

Making people homeless by bullying them out of their properties, changing locks and removing personal belongings is not only a criminal offence, but also traumatic for the victims.

When relationships break down between tenants and landlords there are strict legal processes that have to be followed and council officers are here to help both sides move forward.

No landlord can act outside the law and councils will do everything in their powers to ensure tenants can live in rented properties safe in the knowledge that local authorities are there to protect them from illegal eviction.

Failure to follow the right eviction process could leave reckless landlords with a criminal record and an unwanted new home themselves – a prison cell.

An extra £5 million funding from government to help councils tackle rogue landlords as well as proposals in the Housing and Planning Bill for a database of rogue landlords and to allow councils to levy fines up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution, are an important step forward.

However, any database should be properly resourced and the legal process in relation to prosecutions should be speeded up so that, where appropriate, illegal eviction cases can be brought more quickly to court.

Landlords seeking further information about the correct process for ending an assured short-hold tenancy can read our guidance on ‘How to evict a tenant‘.