A landlord has been given a 12-month community service order with a rehabilitation activity requirement of 20 days after being convicted of illegally evicting a family from a property in Clacton.
In addition, Lisa Bottone, of Cotswold Road, Clacton, was also ordered to pay £75 costs to the victim, Regina Dewar, after accepting that she had breached the Protection from Eviction Act when she appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court last Thursday.
The court heard how Dewar signed a 12-month tenancy agreement on 13 September last year to live at the property in Cotswold Road after Tendring Council agreed to pay the rent and deposit.
But a week after the contract had been signed and the deposit paid, the landlord decided that the tenant could no longer move in to the property.
However, given that Bottone had failed to go through the correct eviction procedure, she had no legal right to stop Dewar from moving in to the property when she attempted to move in on 22 September, leaving the council with little alternative but to enforce the breach of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
The head of housing at Tendring Council, Paul Honeywood, said: “We came to a conclusion that in this instance the landlord did not have a reasonable cause to stop Miss Dewar’s occupation of the property.
“It was felt to be in the public interest to enforce the legislation to avoid homelessness and prevent other incidents occurring.
“Where there is sufficient evidence we will not hesitate to take action over illegal evictions – and that should be a warning to all.
“I welcome this prosecution and hope that it sends a clear message.”