Illegal eviction landlord is jailed

Zardoz Greek zardos777 at
Mon Feb 16 21:18:32 GMT 2015

Illegal eviction landlord is jailed

by Mike Benke , @Michael_Benke
5:30am Tuesday 10th February 2015 in News

A LANDLORD has been sentenced to 12 weeks in prison after illegally evicting tenants in order to get a higher rate of rent.

Bakara Joseph Shem, 39, of Herd Street, Marlborough, evicted two women from his Swindon property by changing the locks and removing their property from the house, despite rent being paid on time.

He pleaded guilty to two offences of evicting tenants for no good reason when he appeared at Swindon Magistrates Court on Friday, having been arrested at Stansted Airport on Thursday as he returned from a trip to Romania.

Shem was initially due in court on January 12 but failed to appear so a warrant was issued for his arrest, leading to the airport detention.

The case revolved around a property on Marney Road, which he owns.

In November 2013, he entered into a tenancy agreement with two women, lasting six months. The two tenants were on housing benefit so the rent was paid directly into Shem’s account.

However, in March 2014 a woman by the name of Linda, who claimed to be Shem’s wife, came to the property and told the tenants they had a month to move out because it was being sold.

There was no clause, though, in the tenancy agreement allowing it to be cut short for this reason. When the women contacted Linda to explain this, she became abusive and said she would deal with the matter herself.

Papers to the court outlining the case said: “On the 12th of May 2014 when the tenants were away from the property they received a text from ‘Linda’ asking when they would be at the property as she wanted to meet.

“They returned to the property at about 8pm and found three unknown men standing outside the property with a van.

“One of the men stood in front of the door and would not allow the women to enter. He was very aggressive and they called the police. When the police arrived this man continued his aggression towards them and was subsequently arrested.”

Upon gaining access to the property, they found all their belongings had been removed. Too scared to remain at the address, the women spent the night in their car.

They sought legal advice and located their belongings in a garage, although the bed had been damaged.

The actions of Shem, as landlord, were in breach of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 as he had no good reason to evict the tenants. It is thought that instead of selling the house, he had other tenants lined up who were willing to pay more rent.

The charge was brought by Swindon Council, who also sought damages, but because of Shem’s financial state he was only given the custodial sentence.

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