Suspended sentence for landlord who evicted tenant overnight

A landlord has been jailed for six months, suspended for a year, after being found guilty of illegally evicting a tenant and locking him out while he was working a night shift.The landlord has also been found guilty of disposing of all of the tenant’s belongings.The tenant returned home early in the morning after work to find himself homeless and possession-less.
The landlord, who has not been named, must pay compensation of £3,000 to the tenant, plus £250 to Sedgemoor council in Somerset.Magistrates hearing the case in Taunton said they accepted that the landlord had been ill, but they took the decision that there were several aggravating features that – according to a council statement – “made this a very serious offence.”These included:

  • The tenant had lost his home in Bridgwater for which he had regularly paid rent;
  • 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;
  • The tenant lost all of his possessions many of which were personal and irreplaceable;
  • The magistrates wished to put on record the actions and effort taken by the council to help the tenant.

In sentencing the landlord, the Chairman of the Bench 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.

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