The dangers of going rogue

In a recent case held before the Liverpool Crown Court, private landlord Adil Lahmer was found guilty of illegally evicting his tenant, Mr Amani in December 2020, which left the former tenant homeless.  

Mr Amani and Mr Lahmer had been friends for several years. In 2017, Mr Amani was a lodger with Mr Lahmer before the landlord moved to Germany in 2020.  

While in Germany, Mr Lahmer contemplated selling the property, however Mr Amani asked if he could rent it with a view of purchasing it at a later date. A formal tenancy agreement was entered into which meant Mr Amani paid £500 in rent per month to Mr Lahmer, as well as paying for council tax and energy bills. 

In December 2020, Mr Lahmer told Mr Amani he would be returning from Germany and would be moving into the property to isolate in line with COVID-19 guidelines. He told Mr Amani he did not need to move out while Mr Lahmer quarantined, however days after December’s £500 rent payment was made, Mr Amani discovered Mr Lahmer had entered the property, changed the locks, and placed some of Mr Amani’s belongings at the back of the property. 

Mr Amani tried to reason with Mr Lahmer, however after having little success, sought assistance from Warrington Borough Council’s emergency homelessness service. Once Mr Amani was in touch with the council a full investigation was launched. 

As a result of the unlawful eviction, Mr Amani lost his job, his higher education studies were disrupted, a company he had set up was dissolved and he was unable to host his children who had lived close by. He also lost most of his personal possessions. 

Initially Mr Lahmer tried to plead not guilty, stating that any agreement between the friends had been an informal understanding and the tenancy agreement presented was a forgery, though he later finally admitted the tenancy agreement was valid. He did attempt to argue that his actions stemmed from a lack of understanding when it came to UK laws governing tenancy agreements, an argument that was rejected by the judge who stated that Mr Lahmer had been in the UK since 2012 and had no excuse as a property owner to not understand the law.  

Mr Lahmer was given the following sentence: 

  • 24 weeks’ custody suspended for 18 months 
  • 150 hours of unpaid work to be carried out over the next 18 months 
  • £541 compensation payable to Mr Amani (in respect of the rent paid for December 2020) 
  • £1,000 contribution to the council’s prosecution costs (to be repaid at a rate of £100 per month) 
  • Priority is to be given to compensation in the allocation of costs 

The above case confirms that going rogue can be a costly matter. We would always recommend you seek the advice of a solicitor when setting up a tenancy and when you want to bring that tenancy to an end. While many may want to avoid the costs of seeking such advice, it will ultimately save you money in the long term to make sure you follow the correct procedure, and do not end up on the wrong side of the law. 

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