Letting agent ordered to pay almost £10,000 for illegal eviction

A lettings and managing agent and one of its directors in Hinckley has been fined a total of £6,000 and issued with a Criminal Behaviour Order for unlawfully evicting two of their tenants in 2019.

CFDP Ltd, trading as Belvoir Nuneaton and Hinckley, based in The Crescent in Hinckley along with company director Clayton Foston, was taken to court by Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council’s Private Sector Housing Team for removing the possessions and changing the locks of their tenant’s flat while the tenant was unwell and staying in hospital.

Foston appeared before Loughborough Magistrates’ Court for trial on Monday 29 March 2021 and pleaded not guilty to the offence he was personally accused of and pleaded not guilty on behalf of his limited company. But after a full day in court the Justice of the Peace found both parties to be guilty of an offence under Section 1 of the Protection from Eviction act 1977.

CFDP Ltd (Belvoir) was fined £5,000 for the offence, and Foston received a personal fine of £1,000. Costs for taking the case of £3,472.76 were awarded to the council and a victim surcharge of £290 brought the final bill to the offenders to £9,762.76.

A Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) was also issued to Foston which places restrictions on his activity in the PRS and reinforces the need to act in accordance with the law. The guilty verdict also allows the victims to seek civil compensation.

The Private Sector Housing Team became aware of the offence in August of 2019 after the former tenant attended a meeting at the Hinckley Hub to discuss their housing situation and raised concerns about the process by which they were removed from their previous home in April of that year.

Madeleine Shellard, head of housing for the Borough Council, commented: “The council will not accept residents being displaced from their homes and will take appropriate action where it is required. The process for ending a tenancy is set out clearly in law and guidance so there is no excuse for failing to afford your tenants due process.

“While unlawful eviction in Hinckley and Bosworth is relatively rare this case should serve as a warning to those who may be considering it, especially after the last year of restrictions and financial challenges. Where a tenant has been displaced without the correct legal procedures having been followed the council will in the first instance look to reinstate the tenancy”

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15 Comments

  1. FranchisePrison

    Lots of landlords pressuring agents to ‘do what it takes’ at times but we must not give in and break the law as it’ll be us that pay the price as in this case

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    1. A W

      If a landlord pressures you to “do what it takes” you simply say no. If you lose their business, well then you lose it. No agent should ever compromise either their own or their professional integrity.

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  2. Highstreetblues

    Oh dear. This is why it’s essential Landlords have full insurance in place.

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    1. LVW4

      How would insurance help when an agent breaks the law for a landlord’s benefit?

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      1. Highstreetblues

        Because if the insurance company was dealing with it instead, then the agent wouldn’t be involved????

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        1. LVW4

          I could wrong, but I didn’t think landlords insurance would cover you if you break the law. Be good if it did, though. 

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          1. GeorgeHammond78

            LVW4 – By insurance, HSBlues is referring to rent guarantee insurance. If a decent policy is in place, as soon as there is a technical arrear, the landlord makes a claim under the policy and the insurer pays the rent. To mitigate their losses, the insurer will then rely on their insurers’ right of subrogation which legally allows them to step into the shoes of the landlord to go after the miscreant direct.  Hence, no need for the agent to become the bad guy. Slight snag though is that we’ve recently seen insurers being insurers in either trying to change the goalposts along the way and/or trying to take their umbrella back when it starts raining.

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            1. LVW4

              Thank you. I thought the initial question was about insurance covering the costs of the £10,000 prosecution and fine.

              Yes, it is possible that your landlord insurer would take the eviction process off your hands, but they would fight to avoid doing so, and would not make it any quicker, which is where the frustration comes in. My tenant is currently 13 months in arrears and believe me, I have been tempted… but I know the authorities would relish the distraction and potential nice earner for prosecuting an errant landlord. Of the £10,000, it would appear only £290 went to the tenant. Who got the rest?

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              1. CountryLass

                I assume you are waiting on a court date to get a possession order at the moment then?

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                1. LVW4

                  The new Review Hearing stage was Tuesday and I understand the tenant didn’t bother to participate. I am now hoping for a speedy full Hearing… and then many more months before I can get a bailiff!

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  3. anon-mon73

    Lots of it will be going on, just need the waring “If you tell the council, these 2 guys will be back”

    After many Landlords who have lost £1,000 per month for a year to 18 months, with no end in sight. £10k (probably less if its the landlord – as they are not a professional) then it’s cheaper to go down the DIY route.

    The government needs to do something to help tenants with arrears.

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    1. LVW4

      The government needs to do something to force tenants to pay their rent if they are in a position to do so, not force landlords to wait 6 months before they can act. I’m not a housing charity. I have a tenant who has earnt more than me since last April, but has refused to pay his rent. 

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  4. DASH94

    A bit more context would be helpful – why did they want to evict him in the first place?

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  5. paulgbar666

    To all the idiot LL out there surely you knew how dysfunctional the repossession process was!!!!!!?????
     
     
    There is no point in being an AST LL when the law is so heavily in favour of feckless tenants.
     
    Shrewd LL are getting out of the AST game.
     
    There are other forms of occupancy which do NOT favour feckless occupants.
     
    AST tenants are a mug’s game UNLESS RGI is possible.

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  6. GraemeReid

    A home owner who does not keep up with their mortgage payments is out on their ear, AND they lose equity in the property (because it will be sold cheaply). In other countries, if you’re a day late with the rent, you come and collect your possessions from the front lawn, no questions asked. Time to level the playing field.

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