17 May 23
A council has prosecuted a rogue landlord for the second time for illegally evicting a tenant.
The prosecution for offences relating to the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 was brought by Cheltenham council with the assistance of the Counter Fraud and Enforcement Unit.
The landlord – Lidia Szopinska, a London resident – let a room in a house she owns in Cheltenham to a tenant in January 2022 for a period of three months. However after the terms were agreed they were changed, regarding when the tenant could and couldn’t stay, and what was included in the rent.
A dispute occurred between the tenant and Szopinska, which resulted in the tenant having to leave the property.
Szopinska changed the door code and the tenant was unable to access his room for the remainder of the agreement. The tenant only stayed at the property for two weeks instead of the agreed three month period. Ms Szopinska also failed to return the deposit or provide a refund for the time the tenant was not at the property.
It is a criminal offence under s1(2) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 when a person unlawfully deprives or attempts to deprive a residential occupier of any premises of his occupation of those premises without reasonable cause to believe that the occupier had ceased to reside at the premises.
A council spokesperson says: “We are committed to ensuring that all private landlords operate on a level playing field and officers will support those who operate professionally, while taking enforcement action against rogue landlords.
“When relationships break down between tenants and landlords there are strict legal processes that have to be followed and council officers are here to help both sides move forward.
“No landlord can act outside the law and we will do everything in our power to ensure tenants can live in rented properties safe in the knowledge that we are there to protect them from illegal eviction.”
Szopinska appeared at Cheltenham Magistrates Court last week and received a fine of £210, a victim surcharge of £84 and was also ordered to pay prosecution costs and compensation totalling £7,540.60.
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