A Mostyn, Flintshire landlord Mr Gruffydd Edwards has achieved the dubious distinction of becoming the first landlord in Flintshire to be prosecuted for unlawfully evicting a tenant.
Flintshire County Council’s Environmental Health Officers brought the prosecution against the landlord for illegally evicting his tenant.
Edwards pleaded guilty to the offence which took place at one of his properties in Llys Y Wennol, Mertyn Downing Lane, Mostyn and was fined £1,040 at North East Wales Magistrates Court.
In this case it would seem the landlord was lucky to receive a relatively low fine as fines have been much higher in other similar cases and the offence carries a potential 2 year prison sentence.
The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 makes it a criminal offence to harass or unlawfully evict a residential tenant, so Edwards receives a criminal record for his pains. Penalties for a breach can be quite severe.
Assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) are covered by the 1977 Act which protects tenants from harassment and forced eviction. Specific legal procedures must be followed before a tenant can be evicted illegal which involves a court order and where necessary a court bailiff eviction.
An illegal eviction can take many forms including removal by physical force or threat of force, denying re-entry, changing locks to deny entry, or denying access to a part of the property to which the tenant previously had access or needs access such as toilets etc.
Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Public Protection, Councillor Chris Bithell, said:
“I am pleased that the Council has been successful in pursuing the prosecution of this landlord for an unlawful eviction. It is most important that tenants’ rights and interests are protected and that landlords respect them.
“This prosecution sends a clear message that Flintshire County Council will protect residents against unlawful private landlords. It reflects Flintshire’s commitment to ensuring homes in the private rented sector are properly managed.”