A LANDLORD from Kenilworth has been ordered to pay more than £8,000 after illegally evicting her tenant during the pandemic.
Dr Amy Eskander, owner of a flat in Kenilworth, had previously been found guilty of illegal eviction by a jury at Warwick Crown Court back in August.
And at sentencing at Wolverhampton Crown Court she was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay compensation of £3,600 to the tenant, costs of £3,000 to Warwick District Council and a victim surcharge of £190, making a total of £8,790.
Dr Eskander rented a bedroom out in the two-bedroom flat between February 2019 and September 2020 and kept a locked bedroom in the apartment for herself.
The prosecution’s case was she rarely visited the flat, and the tenant often sent her mail onto addresses where she was living in London and Plymouth in connection with her work placements at local hospitals.
Dr Eskander had argued she shared the flat in Kenilworth with her tenant as her principal or only home and therefore he should not be afforded legal protection from eviction.
But the court heard evidence that Dr Eskander had signed an assured shorthold tenancy at a premises in London and had provided evidence in official documents that her home was in London and later in Plymouth.
The tenant was asked in June 2020 for a rent increase, and when he said he was unable to afford it, Dr Eskander told him he had to leave and sent him a text message telling him he had to vacate.
The tenant continued to live at the flat and pay his rent but in September of that year while he was at work, he received a text from Dr Eskander to confirm she had changed the locks and removed his possessions from the apartment.
The tenant alerted the Private Sector Housing team at WDC, who had already issued a warning letter to Dr Eskander advising her she needed to obtain a Possession Order from the county court if she wanted to evict her tenant.
The matter was brought before magistrates in 2021. Dr Eskander elected to have the case heard at crown court where she was convicted with a unanimous jury verdict.
Warwick District Council housing spokesperson Coun Jan Matecki said: “This case demonstrates that the council will not tolerate landlords who evict tenants without following the legal process of serving notice and applying for a Possession Order.
“This eviction took place in the Covid pandemic when the Government had introduced a ban on evictions taking place. The fact that this action was taken by an NHS doctor makes this case particularly shocking.
“When letting, landlords cannot keep a locked bedroom for themselves, live elsewhere and then claim to be ‘sharing accommodation with their lodger.’ I hope this case sends out a strong message to landlords who may be tempted to do the same.
“It is reassuring to see that the tenant who was the victim of this offence has been awarded £3600 in compensation for the loss of deposit as well as the stress and disruption caused following the eviction.”