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Illegal eviction prosecution process must be sped up – LGA

The legal process by which councils take rogue landlords with illegal eviction backgrounds to court, which can often take more than a year, must be sped up, council leaders have said.

While the government’s recent £5m cash grant to help councils tackle rogue landlords represents “good progress”, the legalities behind prosecuting them are still time-consuming, the LGA argues.

The government’s controversial Housing and Planning Bill, which recently passed a second reading at the Lords, includes proposals for a database of rogue landlords, as well as allowing authorities to levy fines of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution.

But Cllr Peter Box, the association’s housing spokesman, argued there are often strict legal processes which must be followed when “relationships break down” between tenants and landlords, and said any database must be properly resourced to bring illegal eviction cases to court more quickly “where appropriate”.

The LGA cited recent examples of successful prosecutions which highlight councils’ important role in “weeding out” rogue landlords. For example, in Birmingham, a landlord was recently forced to pay up more than £5,000 after illegally kicking out a mother and her 11-year-old son by putting her belongings in the garden and changing the locks.

Other examples in Birmingham, Manchester, North East Lincolnshire and Middlesbrough amounted to thousands of pounds worth of prosecution cases, with landlords found guilty of making families homeless, throwing out possessions and even putting a family of nine into a garage.

“Councils won't hesitate to take irresponsible landlords to court and show the consequences they may face if they don't apply the law correctly. Making people homeless by bullying them out of their properties, changing locks and removing personal belongings is not only a criminal offence, but also traumatic for the victims,” Cllr Box said.

“When relationships break down between tenants and landlords there are strict legal processes that have to be followed and council officers are here to help both sides move forward. Failure to follow the right eviction process could leave reckless landlords with a criminal record and an unwanted new home themselves – a prison cell.”


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