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Landlord who illegally evicted tenant is given suspended sentence. A private rented sector landlord based in Leeds has been given a suspended prison sentence for conducting an illegal eviction, which left their tenant homeless.

The case, held at Leeds Magistrates’ Court, heard how the tenant was left homeless after the landlord changed the locks to the home while the tenant was away on holiday. He had to live on a campsite, after being left with no other option, for three months and had no access to his belongings after the eviction. This also left the tenant unable to work.

Christopher Saville, the landlord, sent text messages to the former tenant enquiring if he planned to continue renting the property, a flat located in Gipton, after he purchased the home a month earlier, which already had a tenant who recently signed a fixed term tenancy of 12 months.

When the tenant failed to reply to the landlord’s text message, the tenant, who is a self-employed DJ, discovered that the external gate at the rented property was padlocked, with the entrance door also locked from inside. This left him with no access to his personal possessions, including his professional DJ equipment.

Considering the basis of the pre-existing tenancy agreement at the property, he contacted Leeds City Council Housing Options and explained the circumstances of the eviction.

Leeds City Council, therefore, understood that Saville had intended to illegally evict him, and according to Section 1(2) of the 1977 Protection from Eviction Act, he was committing an offence, which unlawfully deprived the tenant of occupation of the home.

Mr Saville failed to attend the hearing and was found guilty in his absence. He was then brought before the Magistrates’ Court in Leeds this month, receiving a sentence of 20 weeks custody, which was suspended for 12 months, £1,000 compensation and 250 hours of unpaid work.

The landlord was also indefinitely prohibited from contacting the tenant.

The executive member for communities at Leeds County Council, Councillor Debra Coupar, stated that it is the authority’s priority to ensure that residents are provided with a secure home in which to live.

She went on to explain that there is a variety of support and help available for landlords in order to make sure they fully understand the regulations and rules around letting, which keep both tenants and landlords safe, with contracts and tenancy agreements also legally compliant.

The council believes that the conviction is a warning to landlords that the authority refuses to allow landlords to ignore the rules, and emphasises their dedication to ensuring the security, safety and welfare of tenants in Leeds.

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