Unlawful eviction costs a Barnsley landlord over £10,000 and a prison sentence

A Barnsley man received a fine and costs totaling £10,009 for unlawful eviction and harassment, following a hearing at Barnsley Magistrates Court on Thursday 18 April 2019. The prosecution was served under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Mark King, 43, of Lyttleton Crescent, Cubley, has been prosecuted after he unlawfully evicted his tenant by denying him access to the premises he had a right to occupy.

The tenancy had begun in October 2017 based on a verbal agreement. On Saturday 12 May 2018, Mr King sent his tenant, who had fallen behind on his rent, a series of text messages stating he was changing the locks and locking the windows. When the tenant returned to the property the following day, the locks had been changed, and he was unable to enter the property. The tenant was also not able to recover his belongings.

Despite efforts by the council to have the tenant reinstated, he was left homeless. Following a lengthy investigation, Mr King was charged with two offences under the Protection from Eviction Act.

Mr King pleaded not guilty to both charges and told the court that the tenant had never occupied the flat. The tenant brought three witnesses who testified to the fact that he had lived at the property. Mr King also brought two witnesses, but the court dismissed one of the witness’ evidence as ‘not credible’.

Following a two day trial, Mr King was found guilty for both charges. He was sentenced to 26 weeks imprisonment suspended for 24 months and ordered to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work.

He was ordered to pay the tenant compensation of £5509, a victim surcharge of £115 and the council’s legal costs of £4385.66, within 56 days. The total costs amounted to £10,009.

On passing sentence, the Magistrates said “You have been found guilty of offences against an individual who was totally reliant on his accommodation. You have denied him his worldly possessions, some of which had sentimental value. This was a complete breach of implied trust between landlord and tenant, and your callous actions have reached the threshold for a custodial sentence. The text messages compounded the acts.”

Wendy Lowder, Executive Director of Communities, said: “This prosecution shows our commitment to improving private sector housing and keeping residents safe in Barnsley. We are working hard to make sure all tenants are safe and protected in their housing.

“This should send a strong message to all landlords on how committed we are to improving private housing. We will not hesitate in taking legal action to any landlord who violates the law.”

This news is linked to Town Spirit, our new way of working better together. We believe, that if everyone in Barnsley does just one thing, we can make our borough a more welcoming place to live, work, invest and visit.

#LiveIt helps us to support the most vulnerable people, making sure they can access support at the earliest possible stage. #OwnIt by keeping your own and your family's health at its best, asking for support when you need it and looking out for your friends and neighbours.

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