9:19 AM, 24th May 2011, About 10 years ago 1
A landlord was cleared of harassment after his son tried to evict two tenants from a shared house at knife-point with a gang of men.
The case arose from a dispute over an illegal eviction from a house in multiple occupation (HMO) Mohammed Qureshi managed for his niece in Peterborough.
A defective notice to quit was served on two men living in the house. The day the notice expired, the tenants had not left, so Qureshi’s son and five other men demanded they should go.
One of the men with Qureshi’s son produced a knife to threaten the tenants and urged the others to throw the tenants’ belongings in to the street.
The gang then left. Qureshi visited the house and the tenants complained about what had happened.
Later, he returned to the house with his son who racially abused the tenants.
Qureshi was subsequently prosecuted for harassing the tenants. The judge decided there was no case to answer because the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 places no responsibility on the landlord for the actions of others.
Section 1(3A) of the act states: “the landlord of a residential occupier or an agent of the landlord shall be guilty of an offence if— (a) he does acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household, or … and … he knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that that conduct is likely to cause the residential occupier to give up the occupation of the whole or part of the premises or to refrain from exercising any right or pursuing any remedy in respect of the whole or part of the premises.”
The case was appealed by the Crown, and at the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Laws dismissed the appeal and acquitted Qureshi.
The judgment did not cover what the likely outcome of the case would have been if Qureshi and his son were jointly charged with the offence, as no such allegation was made in court.
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