9:26 AM, 24th August 2012, About 11 years ago 38
I witnessed it, it wasn’t my property and it was not a scene you would associate with an illegal eviction. No thugs with baseball bats, just respectable people in a respectable suburb close and the Police keeping a watchful eye on proceedings. It was well organised. I was invited to attend three days before by two separate people, the landlords arranging the illegal eviction and my tenants who lived three doors along. So what was it all about?
The landlord in question had made a big mistake, a mistake he considered to be much bigger than the one he was planning. He had let his property to four single young lads. He took them on face value when he met them and felt they looked like respectable young men. He thought he had done his due diligence as he had checked they were all employed and had the ability to pay the rent. He couldn’t check their background though as they were from another country, until now they had all been living with friends.
The day they moved in they had a party, the neighbours were miffed as it went on all night but didn’t say too much about it. The same thing happened the next night and then the night after. The group of party goers was growing too and by this time the neighbours were getting very upset as they were losing sleep. The parties were as much in the street and the garden as in the house. On the 4th night there was a fight and the Police were called. This became a regular occurrence apparently. I didn’t get to hear much about this straight away but was eventually informed when my tenants told me that they were looking for another place and wanted to know how to serve notice when they found one. I wasn’t sure what to do. However, a few days after I’d first heard about this my tenants called me back to say that the four lads were being evicted at 11am on Saturday and did I want to go along. I then had a similar call within an hour from the landlords of the other property, I’d never met them or had any dealings with them before and even at that point I had no idea that they were planning an illegal eviction.
Curiosity got the better of me on the day, it was a bit like driving past a car crash – you know you shouldn’t be rubber necking but it’s hard not to isn’t it?
I parked my car about half a mile away and walked around to meet my tenants who live three doors up. I arrived about half an hour early as I wanted to hear all the gossip. My tenants 14 year old daugher answered the door and told me that everybody was meeting in the house a few doors down across the rad. I popped over, introduced myself and was welcomed in and offered tea and biscuits. All of the residents of the close were there. It was only then I found out that the troublesome tenants had only been there six weeks. Clearly this was an illegal eviction but this was far from a lynch mod, the average age was about 65 and they all seemed nice people.
Just before 11am the police arrived, one of the wives of the residents had called them as she was getting worried about what might happen. I just kept my mouth shut.
They all stood on the garden watching as the landlords, an elderly husband and wife knocked on the tenants door. The police stood at the end of the short garden path leading to the door. Come on they said, pack your stuff, you’ve had your warning, it’s eviction day and you are out of here. The tenants saw the police, apologised profusely, packed their stuff and left. I couldn’t believe what I had seen. When it was all over and they had gone it was back for more tea and sandwiches.
I just couldn’t help talking to the other landlords at this point.
You do know that what just happened was illegal don’t you, I said. I expected to have to tell them all about landlord and tenant law but they politely nodded and said, yes we do. Are you aware of the potential consequences, I asked. Oh yes, they replied, “we’ve taken advice from a solicitor who told us that the reality is that we might be slapped with a fine of a few thousand pounds and be forced to pay damages if these tenants take matters any further. That’s well worth it to keep the peace though in our opinion and we are willing to take the risk.”
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