Bad landlords are facing a nationwide campaign by local councils to stamp out illegal evictions.
The Local Government Association (LGA) is leading the crackdown and is calling for the government to give councils greater powers to tackle landlords who break housing laws.
They want a nationwide database of landlords, letting agents and property managers who have housing convictions and more money shared between councils to spend on tracing and prosecuting bad landlords.
Five landlords have faced the courts in the past month over illegal evictions –
A couple and their seven children were left living in a garage by one landlord in the West Midlands who changed the locks on their private rented home to keep them out. The landlord was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs in court.
A landlord who drilled out the locks in a buy to let so a mother and her 11-year-old son could not secure the doors was fined £5,000. The landlord left their belongings in bin bags in the garden of their West Midlands property.
A landlord faces prison if he breaks housing law again after changing the locks while a tenant was out and taking away some of his belongings. The landlord told a court in Lincolnshire that he believed the tenant had left the property, so was clearing out his belongings. The landlord was given a suspended prison sentence for his actions.
Magistrates in Middlesbrough have given a landlord a 12-month community order after she broke into a buy to let home to evict a couple and their children.
In Manchester, a family were left homeless when their landlord illegally evicted them. He was fined £3,500.
LGA housing spokesman Peter Box said: “Councils won’t hesitate to take irresponsible landlords to court if they don’t apply the law correctly.
“Making people homeless by bullying them out of their properties, changing locks and removing personal belongings is not only a criminal offence, but also traumatic for the victims.
“When relationships break down between tenants and landlords there are strict legal processes that have to be followed.
“Landlords cannot act outside the law. Failure to follow the right eviction process could leave reckless landlords with a criminal record.”