A property investment company has to pay over £10,000 after admitting illegally evicting a Bridlington man from his home.
Two charges of unlawful eviction were brought against Fiddlers Investment Ltd from Bath and at a hearing at Beverley Magistrates’ Court last week, directors Tracy Hollwarth and Barrie Craven and regional manager Sheridan Brown pleaded guilty on behalf of the company.
The court heard that last September, tenant Jack Barber was given just a week’s notice to leave his accommodation at Sandringham House, in The Crescent, which was a house of multiple occupation owned by Fiddlers.
The notice was served by a man acting on behalf of the company, who claimed he was a resident landlord.
Officers from East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s private sector housing team contacted the company’s directors and regional manager to explain that the live-in manager was not the same as a live-in resident landlord and if they continued with the eviction they would be investigated for a criminal offence.
Fiddlers continued with the seven-day eviction notice and when Mr Barber failed to leave the property the company did not serve the correct notice or apply for a possession or court order but removed his belongings and changed the locks.
Brown, Hollwarth and Craven did not accept they had done anything wrong and refused to co-operate with the council. Investigations into the live-in manager revealed he was acting on instruction of the company and had he failed to do so, he too could have lost his accommodation.
The company was fined £4,000 and has to pay costs of £6,865.15 making a total of £10,865.15.
Chris Dunnachie, private sector housing and safety manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said “The council has a duty to protect tenants to make sure they are safe from illegal evictions.
“Some landlords fail to accept that, despite being their property, each and every room or flat within that property is a person’s home and they have no right of entry without the tenant’s agreement, and must follow clear legal procedures to ensure their tenants are given appropriate notice to leave.
“We will deal with any landlord, letting agent or property company who does not abide by the law. It was disappointing that in this case, Fiddlers Investments Ltd chose not to take officer’s advice.”