A landlord has been sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court after she had previously been found guilty of illegal eviction.
Dr Amy Eskander, owner of an apartment in Kenilworth, was ordered to pay a fine of £2,000, a compensation award of £3,600 to the tenant, costs of £3,000 to Warwick District Council and a victim surcharge of £190, making a total of £8,790.
Eskander let a bedroom out in the two-bedroom flat between February 2019 and September 2020 and kept a locked bedroom in the apartment for herself.
The Prosecution’s case was that she rarely visited the apartment, and the tenant often sent her mail onto addresses where she was living in London and Plymouth in connection with her work placements at local hospitals.
Eskander had tried to argue that she shared the flat in Kenilworth with her tenant as her principal or only home and therefore he should not be afforded legal protection from eviction. However, the court heard evidence that Eskander had signed an assured shorthold tenancy at a premises in London and had provided evidence in official documents that her home was in London and later in Plymouth.
The tenant was asked in June 2020 for a rent increase, and when he said he was unable to afford it, Eskander told him he had to leave and sent him a text message telling him he had to vacate by 12 August 2020.
The tenant continued to live at the apartment and pay his rent and on 18 September 2020 whilst he was at work, he received a text from Eskander to confirm that she had changed the locks and removed his possessions from the apartment. The tenant alerted Warwick council, which had already issued a warning letter to Eskander advising her that she needed to obtain a Possession Order from the County Court if she wanted to evict her tenant.
Shortly before the eviction, council officers had served an Improvement Notice on Eskander to repair a defective gas boiler and provide a Gas Safety Certificate. No certificate was provided, and the boiler was eventually renewed after the tenant had been evicted.
The matter was brought before magistrates in 2021 when Eskander elected to have the case heard in the Crown Court.
A council spokesman says: “This eviction took place in the Covid pandemic when the Government had introduced a ban on evictions taking place. The fact that this action was taken by an NHS doctor makes this case particularly shocking.
“When letting, landlords cannot keep a locked bedroom for themselves, live elsewhere and then claim to be ‘sharing accommodation with their lodger.’ I hope this case sends out a strong message to landlords who may be tempted to do the same.
“It is reassuring to see that the tenant who was the victim of this offence has been awarded £3,600 in compensation for the loss of deposit as well as the stress and disruption caused following the eviction.”
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