A private landlord has been ordered to pay £545 in fines and costs after unlawfully evicting a tenant.
Trevor Bell, 40, from Augustus Drive, Bedlington, was prosecuted by Northumberland County Council at Mid and South East Northumberland Magistrates court where he pleaded guilty to carrying out an illegal eviction.
He had served a Section 8 notice, the first step in proceedings to bring a tenancy to an end, but had failed to issue possession proceedings or secure any order of the court.
Northumberland County Council’s private sector housing team contacted Mr Bell advising him that it would be unlawful to evict the tenant without a court order. Despite this, in February 2018 while the tenant was out, the defendant changed the locks to the property.
Once the council became aware of the matter, it was passed to the local authority’s corporate fraud team to investigate. The team is a specialist investigation unit which investigates a wide range of fraud and non-regulatory compliance issues.
On Monday, April 29, Mr Bell was fined £265, ordered to pay court costs of £250 and a victim surcharge of £30.
Philip Soderquest, head of housing and public protection, said: “We want everyone to have a safe and secure home and we take these cases very seriously.
“The majority of landlords across the county are very professional but a few seem to have little care for the responsibilities that come with letting a property.
“There is a legal eviction process that landlords must adhere to and unlawful eviction, the threat of unlawful eviction, harassment and intimidation are all totally unacceptable.
“While there is a great deal of help and support available to landlords, acting outside the law will not be tolerated.
“Taking prosecutions like this to court is part of our commitment to making sure that there are high standards of accommodation and responsible management across the private housing sector.”