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Fine for letting agent who admits illegal eviction and changing locks

A letting agent who unlawfully evicted a tenant from a property has been ordered to pay a total of £4,315.

Alan Croft of BestLet Property Management and Lettings in Cambridge has pleaded guilty to unlawfully depriving the resident of occupation of the premises under Section 1(2) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

The case concerned a tenant who had rented a room in a shared house which was managed by BestLet. The tenant contacted the council for help after the agent from BestLet had entered his room without giving him 24 hours’ notice of intention to enter, and without his permission.

Cambridge council officers contacted BestLet and advised the agency of the legal process to access rooms and the procedure to legally evict a tenant. BestLet advised the council that it was aware of the legal processes.

However, the council says that despite this, neither Croft nor BestLet served the required legal notice to seek possession, nor was an application made to the court for an order to evict.  

Instead, Croft allegedly gave instructions to an employee to change the house lock and to put the tenant’s possessions into bin bags and leave them in the front garden.

The court also heard that BestLet had not protected the tenant’s deposit as required by law and it had not been returned.

Croft and BestLet were prosecuted and were fined a total of £1,370, ordered to pay the council’s costs of £2,408 and a total victim surcharge of £137. The tenant was awarded £400 compensation for the distress and damage to personal possessions caused.

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