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A rogue Derry landlord has been fined £750 at after forcing a family to leave their rental accommodation.
John McCartney pleaded guilty at Londonderry Magistrates Court to causing the tenant to leave his property in Eglinton. This happened following a series of actions from the landlord which acted in opposition to the Rent Northern Ireland Order 1978.
The prosecuting body was Derry City and Strabane District Council.
District Judge Barney McElholm was told that on July 29, 2016, the defendant, who claimed he was owed rent arrears, forced entry to the property without the permission of the tenant.
The landlord then removed the external doors and disconnected the water and electricity supplies. He was accompanied by a group of eight men at the time.
After the group left the house the tenant put plastic sheets over the external doors. He stayed in the property on his own over the weekend, having contacted the council. Officers then attended the property.
After they inspected the premises the officers made several attempts to contact the defendant, however they were not successful.
Just a week later the defendant returned to the property without the tenant’s permission. They removed the plastic sheets from the external doorways and took all the electricity cables.
The defendant failed to respond to several requests to be interviewed about the allegations.
Defence barrister Stephen Mooney said the defendant now admitted to the actions and accepted that he caused distress to the tenants.
‘He now accepts he did a number of things wrong,’ Mr Mooney said.
According to Mr Mooney said the tenant had been renting the property since 2014. He had experienced financial difficulties and then fell behind in his rental payments to a total of almost £3,500.
Mr Mooney continued: ‘Correspondence had been sent about the outstanding rental arrears for some time and there was little if any response. The red mist then descended on the defendant who for some reason did what he did. He has no previous convictions, there are no other matters pending in relation to him being a landlord and he now accepts his behaviour was totally improper.’
The defendant’s previously clear record was taken into account and he was fined just £750. He was also ordered to pay court and legal costs totalling £120.