Jorjoh Touray (Student)
A tenant in County Down, Northern Ireland has been harassed by her landlord to such an extent that criminal proceedings were brought.
Zyndzie Akimodo rented a property from Matthew Betty in Bangor, County Down.
On 24 February, Betty, 41, pleaded guilty to harassment under the 1978 NI Rent Order and was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years.
Ms Akimodo said on one occasion men, allegedly posing as paramilitaries, were sent to the house to intimidate her and her daughter. Whilst it could not be proved that Mr Batty was directly involved it was found that he facilitated the visit.
On another occasion a representative from NI Water turned up at the property to disconnect the water supply. He told Ms Akimodo that the landlord told him that the property was vacant.
Ms Akimodo said “Our homes are meant to be a safe and secure place and because of the actions of the landlord, she had no peace at home.”
In England it is illegal for your landlord to harass you or try to force you out of a property without using the proper procedures. You could claim damages through the courts if they try and do so.
What constitutes as harassment?
This can be anything a landlord does or fails to do that would make you feel unsafe in the property or forces you to leave. This can include stopping services like electricity, refusing to carry out repairs, anti-social behaviour by a landlord’s agent or the landlord directly.
Your landlord also cannot evict you without a court order and he/ she would be guilty of illegal eviction if they did so. Even if your landlord’s property is repossessed by their mortgage lender, the lender must give you notice so you can find other accommodation.
What can I do?
If you think you’re being harassed or threatened with illegal eviction, or the property you rent is being repossessed, talk to your local council. It may have someone specialising in tenant harassment issues.
Local councils can also start legal proceedings if they think there’s enough evidence of harassment or illegal eviction.
You could also contact a legal adviser, a Citizens Advice office or Shelter’s housing advice helpline. Your local area may also have other housing or legal advice organisations – your local council or library should have details.
If physical violence is involved, contact the police.
For further advice, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has a detailed guide for tenants facing harassment and illegal eviction.
Here at SULAC we can offer advice on all housing issues. If you would like an appointment, please call 01782 294800 or email SULAC@staffs.ac.uk