A landlord has lost an appeal against his conviction for harassing and intimidating a young mother he had been intending to illegally evict.
Joel Zwiebel and his property company Interpage Limited were first convicted of harassment and carrying out an illegal eviction in November, by Wandsowrth Council at Wimbledon Magistrates Court. They attempted to overturn the magistrates conviction, though their appeals were thrown out by a Judge at Kingston Crown Court, who later imposed a stiffer sentence. Mr Zwiebel and his company will now be forced to shoulder thousands of pounds’ worth of court costs.
Mr Zwiebel, accompanied by Derrick Stuart, who was also convicted in November but did not participate in the appeal, had attempted to evict a woman and her son from a rental flat in Battersea by harassing them. The property in question was rife with problems including damp, water leaks and several issues of disrepair.
Mr Zwiebel and his company refused to fix these problems, and as a result the woman withheld her rent, leading the landlord to begin eviction proceedings. An intervention from the council led to an agreement in which the woman would repay her rent given that the repairs were carried out. However, Mr Zweibel went back on his promise, and instead of attempting to fix the problems he sent Mr Stuart to turn off the gas and electricity supply, despite it being the middle of winter. The locks to the property were later changed, marking the beginning of an 18-month fight for the woman to regain access to her property and possessions.
Following the overturned appeal, Mr Zwiebel was ordered to wear an ankle tag and and was issued an overnight curfew for three months between the hours of 9pm and 7am. He was also ordered to pay £4,000 in costs as well as £1,000 compensation to his victim. Interpage Limited was fined £4,000 as well as costs of £3,500 and £1,000 in compensation.
Wandsworth’s housing spokesman Councillor Paul Ellis said: ‘This was an utterly appalling display by these men. They waged a disgraceful and unforgivable campaign of harassment against this mother and her son. To switch off their gas and electricity in the middle of winter showed a shocking lack of compassion so I am pleased the court has upheld these convictions and imposed a stiffer sentence against Mr Zwiebel and his company. Let this case and its outcome serve as a salutary warning to other landlords thinking of following the same illegal path.’