A High Court declaration has underlined that Cardiff Council must consider prosecuting landlords suspected of unlawfully evicting their tenants, and that not doing so at all over the last 10 years amounted to a “systemic failure”.  

The declaration came through a judicial review brought by PLP on behalf of our client who was made homeless last year when he returned home from staying with a friend to find that his landlord had changed the locks. 

As a result of the legal challenge, the Council agreed to:  

  • Pursue a prosecution against our client’s former landlord  
  • Resource itself to investigate unlawful evictions  
  • Develop policy to follow when a tenant is unlawfully evicted 

After our client found himself homeless, his advisor at the Speakeasy  Law Centre asked the Council to investigate and consider prosecuting the landlord, but the Council did not do so as it had no specialism in the housing team to do so. 

During judicial review proceedings, Cardiff Council disclosed that it had not used its powers of prosecution under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 in the last 10 years. 

Matthew Court, PLP’s lawyer in the case told Rebecca Wilks at Voice.Wales

“Cardiff Council has a power under Section 6 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 to bring proceedings against people that have committed offences under that Act. 

“Our case was that they hadn’t even considered exercising this power, that they just basically told the client to go elsewhere – go to Shelter Cymru, or go to the police – and that was unlawful. 

“If the council had considered the situation at all, and decided that, on the facts, they weren’t going to prosecute on this occasion – that would potentially be lawful. 

“But they weren’t even considering the circumstances of the client’s case – or anybody’s case. 

“I’d hope this outcome has a significant impact because the council now has the resources to consider prosecutions, and they’ve also produced a policy on what the council should do when faced with unlawful evictions, so that housing officers know what steps they should take. 

“Hopefully this will act as a deterrent – it’s a huge deterrent if a landlord knows that the local authority could potentially take them to court if they illegally evict or harass a tenant.” 

The client was represented by Owain Rhys James of Civitas Chambers, and supporting evidence for the case was provided thanks to Shelter Cymru and the Speakeasy Law Centre. 

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