A Banbury renter who lost her ginger housecat Max when she was illegally made homeless has seen justice served on her former landlord.
Published: Monday, 24th April 2023
On Thursday 19 April, Oxford Crown Court heard that Amjad Ali Khattak, owner of a ground floor flat on Gatteridge Street, removed his tenant’s possessions and left them on the street in the rain while she made a trip to the pet shop.
In a case brought by Cherwell District Council, the defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay prosecution costs in excess of £15,000.
The offence was committed in December 2020, during a national eviction ban, and was witnessed by a police officer who captured key evidence on a bodycam. Since then, the council has been working to support the victim, identified as Miss P.
Nicola Riley, Assistant Director for Wellbeing and Housing, said: “This is a truly shocking case where one of our residents was made homeless with no justification; she lost her beloved cat Max and her phone and TV were smashed.
“When Miss P contacted us for help, we advised Mr Khattak that it would be illegal to evict her. He not only ignored this warning, but went on to disregard requests from the council and from Thames Valley Police to allow her to re-enter her home.
“At the time of the offence, the tenant did owe a small amount of rent, but she had clearly communicated to her landlord that she would be able to catch up with payments in the coming days.
“Responsible landlords will follow due process if there is a genuine need to evict a tenant, but this was not one of those cases. To make matters worse, the offence was committed during a national eviction ban.
“Our officer has spent hours supporting this vulnerable victim and working with witnesses so she could get the justice she deserves. Mr Khattak is now paying the price for his crime and I hope this serves as some comfort to his former tenant.”
The property was let by Khattak and his wife, and the court heard that to access electricity, Miss P was forced to purchase old £1 coins to feed a meter, and that she suffered an electric shock using the white goods in the kitchen.
The court also heard that Khattak failed to allow a council environmental health officer to inspect the electrical installation at the property. But he had himself entered without the tenant’s permission to inspect the fuse board.
The court heard that there were also irregularities in the tenancy arrangement: Miss P’s deposit had not been placed in a protection scheme, as the law requires, and Khattak had not carried out right to rent, nor reference checks.
Miss P’s cat Max went missing when Khattak made her homeless and has not since been located. She also found that her tenancy agreement had been removed from among her personal effects.
A nationwide eviction ban was brought in from 11 December 2020 to 11 January 2021 in response to COVID-19 so that people whose incomes were affected by the pandemic were not made homeless.
The council will be monitoring Mr Khattak’s compliance with legislation in the future and could add him to the national rogue landlords database. A banning order preventing him from letting out property may also be sought should he repeat this offence in the future.
A civil claim by the tenant for compensation is ongoing.
Renters who have ongoing concerns about the condition of their home or who need advice and support with their landlord can contact the housing standards team on 01295 227004 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.