A landlord has been fined almost £2,000 after he locked the tenants’ bathroom and cut off the gas and electricity supplies because the tenants were in rent arrears.
The HMO landlord 66 years old Amrik Manku, tried to extract the arrears by withholding the services to his tenants, and act of harassment in contravention of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, a criminal offence.
One of Manku’s five tenants reported issues to Brighton and Hove City Council in November 2018 about the landlord not having an HMO licence for the house in Ashurst Road, Moulsecoomb. When Manku subsequently received a letter from the Council informing him that he was committing a criminal offence, he started taking revenge on his tenants.
Prosecuting for the city council at Brighton Magistrates Court yesterday, and reported by Brighton & Hove News, Len Batten said:
“The officer visited the property on 17 January … and was told that Manku and his son had been aggressive.
“Keypad locks had been fitted to the electricity cupboard and the bathroom to stop the tenants using them until they had cleared their rent arrears.
“The tenants had removed the locks by the time of the visit.
“On 31 January, a member of the public, Jenny, who lived in the adjoining property called and said the previous evening the defendant and his son had removed parts of the boiler, electricity box and front door lock, leaving the property insecure.”
A further visit by Council housing officers found that the house was without a usable gas and electricity supply.
Manku, who is reported to live in a £1m property in Amesbury Crescent, did have an HMO licence for the two-storey house, but it had expired in November 2017 and was not renewed. He blamed his daughter, a legal executive, for the oversight as she had been responsible for the paperwork on the flat and had since moved abroad.
Pleading guilty to both charges of having control of an unlicensed HMO, and withdrawing or withholding services (harassment) Manku told the court:
“Five young men who set upon me, a 66-year-old man, what they have done is aggravated the situation and I can only apologise to the court for my behaviour.
“The tenants also changed the locks, once when I was abroad at the beginning of November and secondly in January. I have a right to inspect the property and any attempt to update the property was not possible because I could not get access.
“They actually barricaded the back door, denying me access and that’s unlawful on their part.”