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Landlord ‘illegally evicted tenant and forced her to sleep rough’

26 January 2018

A Sheffield landlord evicted a woman who couldn’t speak fluent English from her flat without any notice, forcing her to sleep on the streets.

Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard it was the second time that Naveed Hussain, 36, of Pitsmoor Road, had been prosecuted for offences of a similar nature.

The court heard on Tuesday how Saba Habte moved into the flat on The Wicker in December 2015 on the recommendation of a fellow student in her English class.

But just over a year later, on 15 December 2016, the tenant was drinking a cup of tea in her room when Hussain appeared at the door and insisted she had to leave the property that day.

When she objected, Mr Hussain said ‘it is my house and I can do as I choose’ and took the key from the door and put it in his pocket.

Paul Barber, prosecuting for Sheffield City Council, told the court: “That night Ms Habte stayed outside in the cold in the bus station. She suffered the indignity of losing her home and sleeping on the streets, but also some of her belongings weren’t there when she went to get them. Salvation Army Officers who assisted her with retrieval of her belongings described Hussain as having an attitude of contempt towards her.”

Hussain was prosecuted under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. The case has been adjourned for sentencing.

Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for housing and community safety at Sheffield City Council, said: “We take these cases very seriously. The majority of landlords across the city are decent and hard-working but a few seem to have little care for the responsibilities that come with letting a property.

“We believe that unlawful eviction, the threat of unlawful eviction, and harassment or intimidation are amongst the very worst kind of rogue landlord behaviour.

“For this reason we take a very tough stance against landlords who do this and have carried out six successful prosecutions in the past year.

“We believe Sheffield’s private tenants are amongst the most-protected in the country and taking prosecutions like this are part of our commitment to making sure that high standards of accommodation and responsible management prevail in the sector.”

Following the prosecution, Ms Habte said: “I’m very pleased especially hearing the outcome of the case and I am pleased with how the Council has acted and for (their) support”.

In a second case heard by Sheffield Magistrates Court this week, Saeed Bashir, 43, of Horndean Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to failing to licence a property contrary to the Housing Act 2004 section 95.

The court heard that on 21 July 2017, Mr Bashir was in control of a property on Page Hall Road which was required to be licensed, but wasn’t.

Mr Bashir pleaded guilty but in mitigation said that he had trusted an agent to licence the property but that agent then ran off to London with his money.

Mr Bashir didn’t apply for a licence until after he received a summons from the Court.

Costs were awarded to the council of £668 and Bashir was fined £275 reduced from £400 because of an early guilty plea.

He was ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge, so was ordered to pay £973 in total.

Cllr Dunn added: “I hope these cases reassure private tenants that we do investigate their complaints. I encourage anyone who is concerned about the state of their rented property or feels pressured by their landlord to contact us so we can help to resolve the matter or bring action against them.”