This comes almost 40 years to the day the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 came into force.
One offender told his tenant to vacate the property, then changed the locks while he was out. It turned out to be an expensive set of locks. The landlord was ordered to pay £700 compensation, a £2,000 fine and £1,000 in court costs.
A different miscreant was given an electronically-tagged curfew order, which meant he couldn’t leave home after 9pm. He was also ordered to pay £650 in court costs and an £85 victim surcharge. Whilst the full details of the offence are not yet known, the landlord’s actions must have been extreme, given the penalty imposed.
As these examples demonstrate, the local authority takes unlawful eviction very seriously. It is common for tenants who have been the victim of such behaviour to seek legal representation and more often than not, a settlement can be reached that means no further court action is necessary. Some landlords, however, bury their heads in the sand and end up in a considerable amount of trouble by not following the residential property possession procedures.
The 1977 act is quite clear on the subject of unlawful eviction and must not be overlooked. In addition, the Housing Act 1988 (as amended) sets out in Section 21 the steps to be followed when possession of a property is necessary at the end of a fixed term.
In the event a tenant breaches any of the clauses contained within your assured shorthold tenancy, a landlord is entitled to serve notice under Section 8 of the act, requiring the violations to be remedied. If, once the notice has expired, possession is still needed, an application must be made to the court to obtain the necessary order.
It is important to respect the fact that only the court can grant possession of a property and appoint bailiffs to remove tenants.
Given the procedural requirements placed on landlords, particularly since the introduction of new legislation governing tenancy deposits, disrepair and the right to rent, I would always recommend seeking specialist legal advice before serving a possession notice. It is surprising how many claims are struck out by courts because the paperwork was completed incorrectly.