25 May 2016
A Sheffield man who illegally sub-let his council home and then evicted his tenant using force has been prosecuted in a landmark case.
Believed to be the first of its kind in the country, Sheffield City Council secured prosecutions for both illegal sub-letting and illegal eviction at the same time – thought never to have been done before.
Last year the authority announced it was the first outside London to enforce new legislation designed to resolve problems between tenants, landlords and letting agents. Now the authority has pledged to continue its crackdown on bad practices in rented housing.
Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for housing at Sheffield City Council, said: “This person was breaking the law on two accounts – by illegally sub-letting his rented home and by forcing an eviction. This has been recognised by the courts and I hope it sends a strong message that rogue landlords will not be tolerated.
“We want people to be able to live in good, safe housing, where their rights are respected.
“Thankfully most letting agents and landlords in Sheffield are very good. But we will take firm action on the minority that are not.”
Last week (17 May) Mr Rami Nazzal, aged 35, pleaded guilty at Sheffield Magistrate’s Court to sub-letting his one-bedroom council flat and illegally evicting his tenant. The court heard how he rented the property at St George’s Close in Netherthorpe for around six months before forcing his tenant out of the home following an argument. Nazzal was fined a total of £1,923 including £250 compensation to his tenant and a £15 victim surcharge.
Nazzal had rented out his council flat to Mr Ata Allah Alalawi who had come to Sheffield to study. Ata said: “He told me it was his own property. He lied to me. I didn’t know he was a council tenant.
“Everything was fine until I wanted to leave. He started asking for extra rent – two months extra. He said it was summer and he wouldn’t be able to get a new tenant. When I wouldn’t pay he started shouting, saying the house was in a bad condition. He was making any excuse for me to pay.
“He started throwing my books about and ripping the bed sheets off. I asked what he was doing because a few days ago everything was fine. He grabbed me and pushed me out of the property and threatened I’d never see my possessions again if I called the police.”
Sheffield City Council’s housing team became involved following the incident and is now undertaking legal proceedings to evict Nazzal from his council home.
Councillor Dunn added: “Sub-letting council housing is illegal and it deprives people in need of social housing. We will not stand for abuse and fraud within the system.”