0:02 AM, 6th June 2023, About 9 months ago 29
Devious criminal landlords are allegedly employing fake security personnel who are masquerading as court bailiffs to forcibly remove families from their rented homes, one charity says.
Safer Renting, a tenancy relations service, reveals that these landlords are increasingly resorting to a new way to evict tenants without obtaining a court order.
The alarming revelation coincides with the government’s planned overhaul of the private rented sector (PRS) with the Renters Reform Bill.
The legislation aims to eliminate no-fault evictions, mandate landlord registration and will impose hefty fines for those conducting illegal evictions.
Ben Reeve-Lewis, co-founder of Safer Renting, said: “We’ve witnessed a surge of incidents this year where uniformed security guards have been deployed to create the illusion of a court-approved eviction.
“Previously, these landlords might have used strong-arm tactics, but in my 33 years in the private rented sector, this is the first instance of phoney bailiffs equipped with stab vests, radios, handcuffs, and even police-style vans.”
Penalties for carrying out an illegal eviction could reach up to £30,000 – a dramatic escalation compared to the meagre fines currently imposed by courts.
Legally, only bailiffs appointed by the court possess the authority to evict tenants from their rented homes.
Those resorting to forceful measures or altering locks are committing criminal acts.
The surge in illegal evictions and harassment can be attributed to the mounting cost of living, with renters seeing their incomes being hit.
Safer Renting has compiled data from various sources including Citizens Advice, Shelter and local authorities, and says there is a disturbing increase in illegal eviction and harassment cases.
The charity says that in 2022, more than 8,000 cases were recorded, a significant jump from nearly 7,800 in 2021 and more than 6,900 in 2020.
However, despite thousands of complaints, enforcement remains scarce.
In 2021, only 29 landlords were convicted of illegal evictions or harassment in England and Wales.
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