Barnsley landlord sentenced to six months in prison, which was suspended for 12 months, plus 80 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of over £3,000, for unlawful eviction.
Owner and landlord, Richard James Driver, 48, of Ladyroyd, Silkstone Common, Barnsley, has been convicted after previously pleading guilty for unlawful eviction and being in control of a house in multiple occupation without a license, by Barnsley Magistrates Court.
Mr Driver was given the maximum sentence unlawful eviction carries of six months in prison, which was suspended for 12 months, and 80 hours of unpaid work. Additionally, he was fined £360 and ordered to pay £2,764.26 in costs to Barnsley Council and £115 Victim Surcharge. On passing the sentence, the Magistrate commented “Only a prison sentence will mark the seriousness of this offence.”
Barnsley Magistrates’ Court was told that Mr Driver’s tenant returned from holiday to find that the lock to the property had been drilled from his room door and all of his possessions had been removed, including some high value items and some very personal and important belongings. Mr Driver also advertised his room as available to rent on a lettings website the same day.
Following a joint investigation by Barnsley Council and South Yorkshire Police into the allegations, Barnsley Council pursued a prosecution for illegal eviction and being in control of a house in multiple occupation without a license.
Councillor Jenny Platts, Cabinet Spokesperson for Communities, said: “Today’s sentencing sends a very clear message to all landlords that the courts will take the unlawful eviction of tenants very seriously.
“Barnsley Council and South Yorkshire Police will investigate all allegations relating to unlawful eviction and will robustly enforce against any landlord malpractice identified to deter others from failing to follow the correct procedure for bringing tenancies to an end.
“We also want to get the message out to private rented tenants that wherever possible, they should pay their rent via Direct Debit or bank transfer so they have some proof of payment. At the very least, if rent payments must be paid in cash, the tenant should receive a receipt.”
PC Paul Davies, Triage Case Management Officer in the Hub Barnsley Police Station, said: “Making people homeless by way of illegal evictions is a horrible crime. Many of those renting single rooms are vulnerable, on low incomes and will struggle to find alternate accommodation.
“This case was exacerbated by the removal and damage of personal belongings.
“Mr Driver was clearly putting profit before the rights of his tenant”.
If anyone finds themselves homeless as a result of an illegal eviction, call 01226 773 870 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.