Cannock Chase Council has successfully prosecuted three people for illegally evicting a tenant from her home in Rugeley.
Nigel Whorton from Lichfield, Jonathon Williams from Sutton Coldfield and Rebecca Brayshaw from Eccleshall were all found guilty of offences under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, after depriving a tenant in Rugeley from occupation of her home and committing acts likely to interfere with her peace and comfort.
At Cannock Magistrates Court on 9 December Mr Whorton and Mr Williams were each sentenced to 16 weeks in prison. Ms Brayshaw was sentenced to 8 weeks. All sentences were suspended for 18 months. In addition, all three will have to undertake unpaid work and will each have to pay £1,000 compensation to the tenant, Kara Cox. Between them, the 3 defendants must also pay Council costs of over £9,000.
On 2 October 2018, Environmental Health Officers found that Kara Cox returned home to her shared house in Rugeley to find the security code to her floor had been changed and a hand written note purporting to be her notice of eviction. She was unable to access her home or belongings, or look after her pet rabbit. She could also see the door to her room had been removed.
Ms Cox eventually accessed her room the following day and a series of events unfolded, including the removal of the fire door and later the heating and electricity to her room was switched off. Her window was nailed open and her fridge freezer unplugged which rendered her food inedible.
Following action by Environmental Health Kara eventually was able to return to her room on 9 October 2018. She was forced to stay in emergency accommodation over the period, arranged by the Council’s Housing Options Team.
Mike Edmonds, Head of Environment and Healthy Lifestyles at the Council, said “Most landlords behave responsibly towards their tenants, but with those that don’t the Council will not hesitate to take action to ensure tenants in the district are protected. In this case, the actions taken by the individuals concerned were aimed at forcing the tenant out of her home and this is totally unacceptable.
“We are pleased the Court supported our response and hope that this sends out a strong message to landlords who are prepared to abuse their tenants rights.”