A landlord who tried to evict an elderly tenant from a rundown flat through a campaign of harassment has been jailed for three months – in the first case of its kind brought by Liverpool City Council.
Violet Musoke, aged 61, of Stanza Court in Everton, attempted to force 80 year old Dennis Adderley to leave his home of 34 years, on Picton Road in Wavertree.
He is a ‘regulated tenant’ under the Rent Act 1977 which means he has a secure tenancy. In order to evict a regulated tenant a possession order needs to be obtained from the court, which will only be granted if the landlord can prove a legal reason to evict.
In November 2017, the landlord and members of her family turned up and gained access to the property under the false pretence of being there to carry out repairs. They had with them blow-up mattresses, suitcases and chairs, and after entering the tenant’s home refused to leave in an attempt to harass him into leaving his home.
Mr Adderley became distressed and intimidated and eventually the police were called. The defendant and other persons at the property only left when they were threatened with arrest.
It came after officers from Liverpool City Council’s Landlord Licensing team had served an improvement notice on the landlord after finding outdated electrics, damp and fire hazards, as well as dumped rubbish in the back garden, during an inspection.
Following the landlord pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to breaching an improvement notice, failing to comply with two legal notices and harassment of Mr Adderley intending him to give up occupation of his property, the matter was back before Liverpool Magistrates Court today for sentencing.
District Judge Andrew Shaw said Ms Musoke was guilty of “heartless and selfish” behaviour, of treating Mr Adderley “as an inconvenience, not a person” and said she had “tried to squeeze him out by direct action”. He also ordered her to pay him £500 compensation.
Deputy Mayor, Councillor Lynnie Hinnigan, said: “This is a shocking case in which the landlord attempted to intimidate a vulnerable elderly man into leaving their property which had been their family home for decades.
“It highlights the importance of our Landlord Licensing scheme, which brought this property on to our radar and led to us serving an improvement notice.
“We are determined to crackdown on rogue landlords and improve life for those tenants living in properties which aren’t up to standard.
“We are starting to see Landlord Licensing making a real difference to the lives of communities across Liverpool.”
The city council is carrying out the improvement work and will bill the landlord for the work, and also review her landlord licence.
Landlord Licensing was launched in Liverpool in 2015 and almost 45,000 licences have now been issued, with a further 9,000 unlicensed properties reported.
To date, around 75 percent of licensed properties inspected have found to be non-compliant on the first visit and in some cases closed down due to hazards such as dangerous electrics and problems with fire doors.
Since the scheme was launched, the city council has served 1,700 legal notices, brought 118 successful prosecutions, issued 146 cautions and a further 116 formal written warnings. Almost 1,300 cases are currently being considered for prosecution.
Tenants can check if their rented property is licensed at www.liverpool.gov.uk/landlordlicensing