Justice in Eastover Illegal Eviction

Cllr Glen Burrows, welcomed Sedgemoors action

Sedgemoor District Council has successfully prosecuted a Somerset landlord from Bridgwater who illegally evicted his tenant, locked him out of the house and disposed of all his belongings.  All of this was planned whilst the tenant was working night shifts; the tenant returned home early in the morning after work to find himself homeless and possession-less. The case happened in the Eastover area and ward Town Councillor Glen Burrows was closely involved. After the verdict she said “Sedgemoor’s legal and housing teams are to be congratulated for their determination to get justice in this case. They have proved that standing up to injustice and fighting for your rights can bring success. Well done to everyone involved.”

Sedgemoor District Council welcomed the recent decision by the Taunton Magistrates Court to sentence the landlord with illegal eviction with a prison sentence of six months (suspended for twelve months), compensation to his tenant of £3,000 and costs of £250 to Sedgemoor District Council.

Whilst the Bench accepted that the landlord had been ill, they took the decision that there were several aggravating features that made this a very serious offence.

  • The tenant had lost his home in St John Street, Bridgwater for which he had regularly paid rent.
  • The tenant understood that he would get a month’s notice, which was in itself unlawful given the provisions of the Coronavirus Act which means that there is additional protection of six months.
  • The landlord had been advised by SDC’s housing team prior to the eviction, that he must abide by the law and by his own admission the landlord chose not to do so.
  • The tenant lost all of his possessions many of which were personal and irreplaceable.
  • The Bench wished to put on record the timely actions and effort taken by the Council’s housing team in trying to support the tenant prior to the eviction and Bridgwater Town Councillor, Glen Burrows, attempts to resolve the matter immediately after the eviction.

Very Serious Offence

In sentencing the landlord, the Chairman of the Bench stated that the landlord had received the benefit of an early guilty plea and the fact that he was of previous good character and was ashamed of his actions. However, it was a very serious offence, hence the sentence.

The majority of landlords are very willing to work with the council and are compliant with their obligations to their tenants. However, the Council will continue to crack down on landlords who not complying with the Housing legislation which is in place to protect tenants.