Vindication for victim of wrongful eviction

A Bicester man who was left sleeping in his car after being unlawfully evicted from his home could get a sizable rent refund after Cherwell District Council successfully prosecuted his landlord.

Published: Tuesday, 15th January 2019

On Tuesday, 8 January at Oxford Magistrates’ Court, Ali Murat Terzi of Abingdon pleaded guilty to an unlawful eviction. He was ordered to pay £1,550 in costs, a fine, and a victim surcharge. The council can now help the victim to apply for a Rent Repayment Order, which could see him refunded a year’s worth of rent.

The victim arrived home from work to find the locks changed and his initial efforts to contact the landlord went unanswered. Soon afterwards, he found most of his possessions piled up on the garden patio and contacted the council’s tenancy relations officer for advice. The council investigated and learned that despite the tenant still living at the address the landlord had arranged for new tenants to move in.

Cllr John Donaldson, lead member for housing, said: “People renting privately in our district are entitled to a professional service from their landlords and as the council we are here to make sure they do just that.

“When relationships between landlords and tenants break down we are here to provide both parties with information on the options that are open to them and the correct steps to take. In this case, the situation could have been averted if the landlord had picked up the phone to seek guidance on the correct way to regain possession of his property.

“Whilst we are confident that the overwhelming majority of landlords in our district are trustworthy and professional, this ruling stands as a warning to anyone considering cutting corners and shirking their responsibilities to tenants.”

Adjudicators from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme found that the landlord’s claims of rent arrears and damage were unfounded and ordered that most of the tenant’s deposit should be returned.

Landlords are required to give tenants the correct form of notice if they intend to end a rental contract. They can only evict tenants who have assured shorthold tenancies, the most common type of tenancy, with permission from the courts.

The council can now seek to add the landlord’s name to the national rogue landlord database which notifies other local authorities of landlords who have committed housing offences.