Landlord fined for changing the locks

A buy-to-let landlord has been ordered to pay just under £3,000 after pleading guilty to a charge of ‘harassing an occupier to give up the occupation of their premises’.

The tenant had not paid their rent, so the landlord changed the locks to his rental home to prevent the tenant from accessing the property.

These actions resulted in the landlord being fined £2,000, in addition to having to pay court costs of £602.20 and a £200 surcharge - a grand total of £2,802.20.

North Staffordshire Justice Centre was told that the landlord took the law into his own hands after claiming that he had been left thousands of pounds out of pocket due to rent arrears for six months for the house in Stoke-on-Trent.

Michelle Hayter, a Partner at Frettens and a Solicitor in our Dispute Resolution Team, says “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. A landlord can evict their tenant if they are in breach of the tenancy agreement, and failing to pay the rent breaches the agreement. There is a legal procedure of taking the matter to court and outlining that there is an offence which warrants eviction. Landlords MUST not evict without following procedure - that is harassment, which is a criminal offence.”

Landlords in this frustrating position can contact Frettens for advice on the correct way to evict their tenant and repossess their property. Similarly, if a tenant is concerned about a landlord or their rental situation we are able to advise on the best course of action. If necessary, contact the council or police because it may be a criminal matter.

Our Landlord & Tenant Team are happy to discuss any issues that this raises for you. If you have any questions, you only have to ask us at Frettens. Please call 01202 499255 and Michelle or a member of her team, will be happy to chat about your situation and your particular requirements.