A rogue landlord found guilty of waging a campaign of harassment and intimidation against a young mother he wanted to illegally evict, has failed to overturn his conviction and sentence.
Joel Zwiebel from Hackney and his property company Interpage Limited had their appeals thrown out by a judge at Kingston Crown Court.
In November Zwiebel and Interpage were jointly ordered to pay a total of £10,500 in fines and court costs, and also told to pay their victim £2,000 as compensation for her ordeal, after they were convicted at Wimbledon Magistrates Court of two offences under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
Zwiebel and Interpage will be re-sentenced next month by the Crown Court judge, who has the power to impose a more stringent sentence than was available to the magistrates at the original hearing.
The case was brought to court by Wandsworth council’s housing department, after it emerged Zwiebel plus another man - Derrick Stuart, who was also convicted in November but did not take part in this appeal – had harassed a young woman and her son in a malicious bid to evict them.
The woman and her young child had lived at the rented flat in Battersea for many years even though it suffered from damp, water leaks and serious disrepair.
Because Zwiebel and his company refused to fix these problems she began withholding her rent, prompting him to begin eviction proceedings. At this point the council intervened and negotiated a compromise agreement in which she would pay the rent she owed and he would carry out the necessary repairs.
However almost immediately Zweibel reneged on the deal. Instead of fixing the defects he sent Stuart to the property and he proceeded to switch off her gas and electricity supply even though it was the middle of winter.
A few days later she arrived back at the flat to find the locks had been changed and she could no longer get in to her home. It took her 18 months to eventually regain her possessions, most of which had by that stage either disappeared or been broken.
For his role in the eviction Stuart, from Newham, was fined £1,500 with £2,500 costs and also ordered to pay a further £1,000 in compensation.