Agent fined for unlawful eviction

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Letting and managing agent Principal Homes has been fined £10,000 after having been found to have unlawfully evicted a tenant. It was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170, ordered to pay prosecution costs totalling £3084 and compensation of £1054.

The Birmingham firm, which had been prosecuted by Birmingham City Council, was found guilty under Section 1 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. It had illegally evicting Natalia Szergejev from the tenancy she had held since June 2017.

She had gone abroad in January 2019 with the intention of returning to her flat. In the meantime she had agreed with Principal Homes that a joint tenant would pay the rent during her absence.

But the joint tenant subsequently left the property and rent due in May 2019 was not paid. When informed Ms Szergejev paid the rent and confirmed her intention to return to the flat.

When she did arrive home in 15 June 2019, she was unable to gain access because the lock had been changed.

‘The fine is an excellent result given the level of penalties in other recent similar cases. We hope it sends a clear signal to all private landlords about their responsibilities and that they must keep within the law’, said councillor with cabinet responsibility for homes and neighbourhoods, Shabrana Hussain.

Birmingham City Council has recently just launched a 10-week consultation about introducing a selective licensing scheme for private landlords. Some 25 areas have been singled out for introduction of licensing on the grounds that significant proportion of housing is privately rented and the area one that experiences high levels of deprivation and high levels of crime. The consultation ends on 4 January 2022.