Buy to Let Landlord Fined for Harassing Tenant Over Unpaid Rent

A buy to let landlord has been fined over £2,800 after harassing a tenant and changing the locks on his rental property.

Nathan Shipley, 46, pleaded guilty to a charge of ‘harassing an occupier to give up the occupation of their premises’ at North Staffordshire Justice Centre. Shipley was allegedly owed thousands of pounds in rent after his tenant failed to pay for six months. As a result of this, Shipley took the law into his own hands and changed the locks to the rental property, situated in Stoke-on-Trent City. He also attempted to remove the windows and doors in order to stop anyone inhabiting the property.

The landlord’s behaviour earned him a fine of £2,000. He was also ordered to pay court costs of £602.20 and a £200 surcharge, making the total amount payable £2,802.20.

Prosecutor Ashleigh Pennell commented on the case: ‘The defendant changed the locks to the front door of the property with no court order in place. The defendant attempted to remove windows and doors to stop the future occupation of the property. Mr Shipley was not concerned with prosecution as his tenant was in rent arrears. Given that the landlord was owed thousands of pounds by his tenant, it is understandable that he would have become frustrated, but there are correct legal channels to evict a tenant.’

Chief executive of Stoke-on-Trent Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB), Simon Harris, added: ‘A landlord can evict their tenant if they are in breach of the tenancy agreement, although it is dependent on a breach in the agreement. There is a legal procedure of taking the matter to court and persuading that there is an offence which warrants eviction. What a landlord cannot do is evict without following procedure – that is harassment and a criminal offence. If a tenant is concerned about a landlord then they can contact the CAB for free legal advice and if necessary contact the council or police because it could be a criminal matter.’

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