A landlord who breached a court order not to harass or evict his tenants has been given a prison sentence.
Saakib Khan, who lives in Nottingham, was sentenced to jail for being in contempt of court for breaching an injunction – prohibiting him from harassing or evicting a couple from their rental home.
After being found guilty last month, the judge sentenced Khan to a six-month prison sentence: he has since appealed but this has been rejected.
During the national lockdown in March, Khan served a handwritten ‘notice of eviction’ to his tenants. There were allegations that he had tried to force the couple to leave by changing the locks, and in April Khan was formally warned by the council and Nottinghamshire Police that his behaviour could be seen by a Court as a criminal offence (Protection from Eviction Act 1977).
He was advised to desist with any further action and seek legal advice on the correct process to follow to evict his tenants. In spite of these warnings, the council was told that further attempts were made by Khan and his associates to force the couple to leave the property.
This included an allegation of assault against the female tenant
The couple who rent the property instructed the Nottingham Law Centre, which applied for an urgent injunction, and an interim order was granted in May.
The order instructed Khan that he should not evict or attempt to evict the claimants without a court order. It also instructed him not to interfere with the tenants’ rights to ‘quiet enjoyment’ or their home, or to use or threaten them with violence, or harassment or pestering or intimidation.
In May, the tenants attended court for the full injunction hearing but on returning home they found Khan on site with a locksmith. The locks to the property were being changed and they were refused entry to recover their possessions and their cat who was being kept locked inside.
The police attended and an arrest was made.
Nottingham Law Centre applied to court for a committal hearing because of Khan breaching the injunction, and last month he was found guilty of contempt of court at Nottingham County Court
A Nottingham council spokeswoman says: “This is a great result for not only the council, but our partners at the Law Centre and Nottinghamshire Police.
“It is rare for landlords to be given prison sentences over illegal evictions, but we feel this verdict and sentencing are justifiable for Mr Khan’s actions.
“Tenants have legal rights, the right to stay in their home until an official eviction process is actioned. During coronavirus, tenants were offered eviction protection and Mr Khan tried to flout these rules. We will not stand for landlords trying to force tenants out of their homes.”