Sheffield Town Hall
Sheffield landlord, Abid Butt, aged 54 of Hastings Road, Sheffield has been ordered to pay £2036 in fines and costs after pleading guilty at Sheffield Magistrates Court this week for harassing one of his tenants.
Mr. Butt pleaded guilty to a charge under section1(3A) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 of doing acts likely to interfere with the peace and comfort of one his tenants who was living at 619 Abbeydale Road, Sheffield. Mr. Butt did this knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that this was likely to cause his tenant to give up the flat, which is owned by Mr. Butt and his wife.
The events took place in June 2020 during lockdown, when even lawful evictions were suspended to help prevent homelessness and there was a greater responsibility than usual on landlords not to evict tenants.
Mr. Butt changed the locks to the property on Abbeydale Road but claimed that it had been his intention to give the tenant a key.
He is a director of 2 companies, Century One Estates Limited and A-Z Properties Limited dealing with managing and letting properties. The court heard that his business was in letting properties and that he had also been on training organised by the council about the responsibilities that landlords should have towards their tenants.
Prosecution and fines
Mr. Butt was ordered to pay a fine of £669, compensation to the tenant of £300, costs of £1000 and a surcharge of £67, totalling £2036. In sentencing, the court took account of Mr. Butt’s early guilty plea and his previous good character.
The council's approach
The council takes cases like these to court to make sure that the law is enforced and to deter other landlords from acting like Mr. Butt did towards his tenant.
Councillor Paul Wood, Executive Member for Housing, Roads and Waste Management said: “We are committed to defending vulnerable people, which is why we take cases like this one to court. The right to live in your home without the fear of being made to leave illegally is a basic human right and we will do all we can to make sure private tenants are protected from bullying behaviour and illegal eviction. It was especially reprehensible that this happened at a time when all landlords had a moral and legal responsibility not to evict their tenants at all, never mind evict them without going through the proper procedures.
“I hope the prosecution serves as a stark warning to landlords that the safety of our tenants remains a priority. Where landlords put the welfare and safety of tenants at risk and wilfully disregard their obligations under the law, we take action.”
The Private Housing Standards Team and landlord responsibility
The Private Housing Standards team investigate more than 400 disrepair complaints a year whilst regulating HMO standards to more than 2,000 properties in the city. Where serious or persistent breaches are identified landlords are prosecuted, but can also be fined up to £30,000 for certain offences.
Landlords have a responsibility in law and to their tenants to comply with the housing regulations and we encourage all landlords to be aware of these standards. The management of houses in multiple occupation are subject to very specific regulations which place clear responsibilities on those managing these types of properties. Information about housing standards in HMOs can be found at http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/housing/houses-in-multiple-occupation.