Published: Friday, 2nd September 2022

A landlord from Kenilworth has been found guilty by a jury of illegally evicting their tenant during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Amy Eskander rented a bedroom out in the 2-bedroom flat between February 2019 and September 2020 and kept a locked bedroom in the apartment for herself.

The tenant was asked in June 2020 for a rent increase, and when he said he was unable to afford it, Dr Eskander told him he had to leave and sent him a text message telling him he had to vacate by 12 August 2020.

The tenant continued to live at the apartment and pay his rent and on 18 September 2020 whilst he was at work, he received a text from Dr Eskander to confirm that she had changed the locks and removed his possessions from the apartment. The tenant alerted the Private Sector Housing team at Warwick District Council, who had already issued a warning letter to Dr Eskander advising her that she needed to obtain a Possession Order from the County Court if she wanted to evict her tenant.

Dr Eskander had tried to argue that she shared the flat in Kenilworth with her tenant as her principal or only home and therefore he should not be afforded legal protection from eviction. However, the court heard evidence that Dr Eskander had signed an assured shorthold tenancy at a premises in London and had provided evidence in official documents that her home was in London and later in Plymouth.

The prosecution’s case was that she rarely visited the apartment, and the tenant often sent her mail onto addresses where she was living in London and Plymouth in connection with her work placements at local hospitals.

The matter was brought before Magistrates in 2021 when Dr Eskander elected to have the case heard in the Crown Court. On Friday 19 August, a jury unanimously returned a guilty verdict at Warwick Crown Court after a five-day trial.

Councillor Jan Matecki, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Assets said, “This case demonstrates that the Council will not tolerate landlords who evict tenants without following the legal process of serving notice and applying for a Possession Order.

"This eviction took place in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic when the Government had introduced a ban on evictions taking place. The fact that this action was taken by an NHS doctor makes this case particularly shocking.

“When letting, landlords cannot keep a locked bedroom for themselves, live elsewhere and then claim to be ‘sharing accommodation with their lodger’. I hope this case sends out a strong message to landlords who may be tempted to do the same.”

Shortly before the eviction, the Private Sector Housing team had served an Improvement Notice on Dr Eskander to repair a defective gas boiler and provide a Gas Safety Certificate. No certificate was provided, and the boiler was eventually renewed after the tenant had been evicted.

The case is listed for mention at Warwickshire Justice Centre later in September and sentencing will follow.

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