Landlord fined for harassing Sheffield tenant while Government rules were in place to stop evictions during the pandemic

A Sheffield landlord has been ordered by a court to pay out thousands in fines and costs for harassing a tenant while Government rules were in place to stop evictions during the pandemic.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 5:07 pm

Abid Butt, aged 54, of Hastings Road, Millhouses, has been ordered to pay £2,036 after pleading guilty to a charge under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 of carrying out acts likely to interfere with the peace and comfort of one his tenants, who was living on Abbeydale Road at the time.

Sheffield magistrates were told he did this knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that this was likely to cause his tenant to give up the flat, which is owned by Mr Butt and his wife.

The events took place in June 2020 during lockdown, when even lawful evictions were suspended to help prevent homelessness and there was a greater responsibility than usual on landlords not to evict tenants.

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Sheffield Magistrates' Court

Mr Butt changed the locks to the property on Abbeydale Road but claimed he had planned to give the tenant a key.

He is a director of two companies, Century One Estates and A-Z Properties, dealing with managing and letting properties.

The court heard his business was in letting properties and he had also been on training organised by the council about the responsibilities that landlords should have towards their tenants.

Mr Butt was ordered to pay a £669 fine, £300 compensation to the tenant, £1,000 costs and a surcharge of £67, totalling £2,036.

Councillor Paul Wood, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety. Picture: NSST-30-05-19-Wood-5

Sentencing, the court took account of Mr Butt’s early guilty plea and his previous good character.

After the case, Sheffield Council, which carried out the prosecution, said it takes cases like this to court to make sure that the law is enforced and to deter other landlords from acting like Mr Butt had done towards his tenant.

Councillor Paul Wood, Executive Member for Housing, Roads and Waste Management, said: “We are committed to defending vulnerable people, which is why we take cases like this one to court.

“The right to live in your home without the fear of being made to leave illegally is a basic human right and we will do all we can to make sure private tenants are protected from bullying behaviour and illegal eviction. It was especially reprehensible that this happened at a time when all landlords had a moral and legal responsibility not to evict their tenants at all, never mind evict them without going through the proper procedures.

“I hope the prosecution serves as a stark warning to landlords that the safety of our tenants remains a priority. Where landlords put the welfare and safety of tenants at risk and wilfully disregard their obligations under the law, we take action.”

The Private Housing Standards team investigate more than 400 disrepair complaints a year whilst regulating HMO standards to more than 2,000 properties in the city. Where serious or persistent breaches are identified landlords are prosecuted, but can also be fined up to £30,000 for certain offences.

Local journalism holds the powerful to account and gives people a voice. Please take out a digital subscription or buy a paper. Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor