A Peterborough landlord who changed the locks as he illegally evicted a tenant at a property he owned has been jailed for a year.
Peterborough Crown Court heard how council officials were first alerted to concerns about Mirza Tariq Mahmud Jaral in July 2020 after issues were raised for the tenant’s safety and well-being and for the behaviour of the landlord. Further allegations were made claiming that the locks to the property in Burmer Road had been changed and that the owner landlord had moved in with two other unknown males.
Shortly after the incident a meeting was held with the tenant and evidence was gathered. In giving evidence the tenant was able to demonstrate a comprehensive statement of events including photographs from within the property. Additionally, the council were provided with details of two other independent witnesses who also gave evidence.
The court heard that initially the tenant was allowed to return to the property, although he returned home from work one evening to find that all his personal possessions had been bagged up and left in one of the bedrooms where he continued to reside for a short period. Later in July the tenant returned home from work to find that all locks to the property had been changed and was denied entry to the property thus rendering him homeless.
Jaral, of Burmer Road, Peterborough, pleaded not guilty to charges of illegal eviction and harassment of the tenant but was convicted at a trial at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court. He was sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court in May.
Along with the prison sentence, the Judge also awarded £1000 compensation to the tenant for emotional distress together with £7350 compensation for loss of personal possessions.
Investigating Housing Enforcement Officer Peter Bezant said: “In almost 27 years service for the council this is by far the most serious case I have had to deal with, and this is reflected in the sentencing that has been passed. This reinforces the zero-tolerance stance by the council who will not hesitate to take prosecution proceedings for such illegal offences.
“This case was long and protracted even though the evidence was substantial thanks to the vigilance and forward thinking of the tenant who stood strong throughout this very emotive hearing.
“This case will hopefully serve as a stark warning to those who continue to flout the law. It was also reassuring to learn that the courts are taking these matters seriously and continue to support the good work and commitment by local authority officials.
“It was significant that the compensation has been awarded to the tenant who suffered the most in this ordeal. This case started with tears of pain and sadness for the victim but ended with tears of joy and who can now continue with their life safe in the knowledge that justice has been served.”