A man who illegally sub-let his council home in Sheffield and then evicted his tenant using force has been prosecuted in a landmark case.
Rami Nazzal, aged 35, pleaded guilty this week at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court to using force to evict a student from the one-bedroom council flat he had been illegally sub-letting to him, Sheffield Council said.
It is thought to be the first prosecution of its kind in the country, where a person has been convicted for both illegal sub-letting and illegal eviction at the same time.
Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for housing at Sheffield City Council, said: “This person was breaking the law on two accounts – by illegally sub-letting his rented home and by forcing an eviction. This has been recognised by the courts and I hope it sends a strong message that rogue landlords will not be tolerated.
“We want people to be able to live in good, safe housing, where their rights are respected.
“Thankfully most letting agents and landlords in Sheffield are very good. But we will take firm action on the minority that are not.”
Nazzal was fined a total of £1,923 including £250 compensation to his tenant and a £15 victim surcharge.
His former tenant, Ata Allah Alalawi, said: “He told me it was his own property. He lied to me. I didn’t know he was a council tenant.
“Everything was fine until I wanted to leave. He started asking for extra rent – two months extra. He said it was summer and he wouldn’t be able to get a new tenant. When I wouldn’t pay he started shouting, saying the house was in a bad condition. He was making any excuse for me to pay.
“He started throwing my books about and ripping the bed sheets off. I asked what he was doing because a few days ago everything was fine. He grabbed me and pushed me out of the property and threatened I’d never see my possessions again if I called the police.”