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Landlord fined for changing the locks to keep tenant out

A buy-to-let landlord has been ordered to pay just over £2,800 after pleading guilty to a charge of ‘harassing an occupier to give up the occupation of their premises’ after changing the locks to his rental home to prevent the tenant who did not pay their rent from accessing the property.

Nathan Shipley, 46, also tried to remove the windows and doors to try to stop anyone being able to live at the property, the Stoke Sentinel reports.

Shipley’s actions resulted in him being fined £2,000, in addition to having to pay court costs of £602.20 and a £200 surcharge - a total of £2802.20.

North Staffordshire Justice Centre was told that Shipley took the law into his own hands after claiming he had been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after not receiving any rent for six months for the Fenton house in Stoke-on-Trent City.

Prosecutor Ashleigh Pennell said: “The defendant changed the locks to the front door of the property with no court order in place. The defendant attempted to remove windows and doors to stop the future occupation of the property.

“Mr Shipley was not concerned with prosecution as his tenant was in rent arrears.”

Given that the landlord was owed thousands of pounds by his tenant, it is understandable that he would have become frustrated, but there are correct legal channels to evict a tenant.

Simon Harris, chief executive of Stoke-on-Trent Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB), said: “A landlord can evict their tenant if they are in breach of the tenancy agreement, although it is dependent on a breach in the agreement.

“There is a legal procedure of taking the matter to court and persuading that there is an offence which warrants eviction. What a landlord cannot do is evict without following procedure - that is harassment and a criminal offence.

“If a tenant is concerned about a landlord then they can contact the CAB for free legal advice and if necessary contact the council or police because it could be a criminal matter,” he added.

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