Unlawful evictions: All risk no reward

The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 prohibits harassment of tenants by their landlord and unlawful eviction. This means every landlord needs to understand the practical implications of the Act. 

In very simple terms, landlords must get a court order for possession and warrant of eviction to force a tenant to move out. If they do not, the consequences could be dire.  

In cases where a landlord is convicted of acting unlawfully, they may be subject a rent repayment order, a fine and/or imprisonment for up to two years. The costs of defending an application that a tenant or local authority may make can be very costly. 

There have been several recent cases where landlords have been subject to injunctions to stop unlawful evictions of tenants. In June, Camden Council secured an injunction against a landlord to prevent unlawful eviction and harassment. The injunction was made due to the landlord’s repeated attempts to illegally evict and harass the tenants of the property he owned. This injunction includes an exclusion zone around the property, and should the landlord enter this zone he can be arrested for breach of the injunction.  

In Gunn & Launders v Khan (2020) EWCA Civ 1905, the tenant sought a without-notice injunction against his landlord on the basis he had been attempting to unlawfully evict him. An injunction was granted prohibiting such an unlawful eviction. On the day of the return hearing, the landlord failed to attend court and when the tenant returned home the landlord was found with a locksmith changing the lock. An application for committal was made by the tenant and the landlord was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for breach of the injunction. The landlord appealed an order sentencing him to six months imprisonment for contempt of court, yet the appeal was dismissed. 

These cases show the importance of ensuring any evictions are done lawfully. If they are not, a landlord could even go to prison.  

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