Importance of following proper process in evictions

If a landlord unlawfully evicts a tenant, the consequences can be dire.

Even if a landlord has a legal ground to evict a tenant, they must follow the correct court process. If they don’t, a tenant can apply for an Injunction to be allowed back into the property, damages for the distress of being unlawfully evicted and / or the Local Authority can prosecute the Landlord, under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

The consequences of unlawfully evicting a tenant have been highlighted in a recent case brought by Sedgemoor District Council.

In that case, a Somerset landlord was prosecuted for illegally evicting his tenant, when he was found to have changed the locks without a court order and disposed of the tenant’s belongings in the process. Taunton Magistrates sentenced the landlord to a six-month prison sentence, suspended for twelve months. The tenant was also awarded damages of £3,000.

It appears that some landlords have turned to illegal evictions, most probably due to the increased notice periods and stays in evictions, brought about due to COVID-19. It is understandable that landlords may be frustrated, but it is vital that the correct process is followed before any evictions take place.

If you are a private landlord and want advice on how to follow the correct eviction process to ensure you don’t have the same fate as the landlord above, please contact our expert Private Landlord Team at MSB, who will be happy to help.

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