A Nottingham landlord, who breached a court order not to harass or evict his tenants has been given a prison sentence.
Mr Saakib Khan, who lives in The Meadows, is the owner and landlord of a rental property in the same area.
After appearing in court in November, he was sentenced to jail for being in contempt of court for breaching an injunction – prohibiting him from harassing or evicting a couple from their rental home.
After being found guilty, the judge sentenced Mr Khan to a six-month prison sentence to start immediately. Mr Khan has since appealed; this has been rejected.
During the national lockdown in March 2020, Mr Khan served a handwritten ‘notice of eviction’ to his tenants. There were allegations that he had tried to force the couple to leave by changing the locks, and in April 2020, Mr Khan was formally warned by the council and Nottinghamshire Police that his behaviour could be seen by a Court as a criminal offence (Protection from Eviction Act 1977)
He was advised to desist with any further action and seek legal advice on the correct process to follow to evict his tenants. In spite of these warnings, the council were told that further attempts were made by Mr Khan and his associates to force the couple to leave the property. This included an allegation of assault against the female tenant
The couple who rent the property instructed the Nottingham Law Centre, who applied to Nottingham County Court for an urgent injunction, and an interim order was granted in May.
The order instructed Mr Khan that he should not (or encourage or permit any other person to) evict or attempt to evict the claimants without a court order. It also instructed him not to interfere with the tenants’ rights to ‘quiet enjoyment’ or their home, or to use or threaten them with violence, or harassment or pestering or intimidation.
In May, the tenants attended court for the full injunction hearing but on returning home they found Mr Khan on site with a locksmith. The locks to the property were being changed and they were refused entry to recover their possessions and their cat who was being kept locked inside.
The Police, the Council and the Nottingham Law Centre were immediately informed, the police attended and an arrest was made.
Due to the number of incidents and the significant risk posed to the tenants, they were assisted by the Local Authority in securing temporary accommodation, and later permanent rehousing.
The Nottingham Law Centre applied to Court for a committal hearing because of Mr Khan breaching the injunction, and on the 13 November 2020 Mr Khan was found guilty of contempt of court at Nottingham County Court
On the 30 November 2020 Mr Khan was sentenced to 6 months in prison effective immediately but decided that he would appeal the sentence.
On the 17 December 2020 Mr Khan appealed his conviction and sentence, but neither was successful.
Cllr Lind Wooding, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Heritage at Nottingham City Council, said: “This is a great result for not only the council, but our partners at the Law Centre and Nottinghamshire Police.
“It is rare for landlords to be given prison sentences over illegal evictions, but we feel this verdict and sentencing are justifiable for Mr Khan’s actions.
“Tenants have legal rights, the right to stay in their home until an official eviction process is actioned. During coronavirus, tenants were offered eviction protection and Mr Khan tried to flout these rules. We will not stand for landlords trying to force tenants out of their homes.”
Sally Denton, Senior Solicitor at Nottingham Law Centre, said: “Landlords do need to remember that it is illegal to force, threaten or harass tenants to try and get them to leave their home, and if they do feel that they need to evict they should use the Courts to do so. There’s loads of free advice available on-line, so there really is no excuse.
“The Council and the Law Centre are available to provide support with housing options. Illegal eviction is a criminal offence, and if a landlord is at the door trying to force a tenant leave, then the Police should be contacted straight away. The Police have been briefed and work with the Council on this type of prosecution in particular shows what can happen to a landlord if they ignore legal advice.
“There have been special rules in place at Court during the pandemic, and although these aren’t going to change until next year it will still be a criminal offence for landlords to evict without following the rules.”
It is illegal to force, threaten or harass a tenant to leave their property, if they are your door trying to force you to leave, then please dial 999. Nottinghamshire Police are trained to deal with illegal evictions.