The council’s Private Sector Housing team and Legal Services conducted a lengthy investigation after Mr Amani came to the Homelessness and Housing Advice Service when he was illegally evicted due to Mr Lahmer wanting to occupy the property himself.
Initially Mr Lahmer stated he wanted to occupy the property to self-isolate as he was returning from Germany, but later it was found he wanted to stay in the property.
Mr Lahmer had originally denied the truth of the housing arrangement with his friend Mr Amani and stated that the tenancy agreement that was signed was a forgery, but this was later found out not to be the case.
The matter was brought before Recorder Richard Leiper QC (RLQC), who stated that the offence committed was a deliberate act, planned in advance and committed in breach of a written agreement and the day after a rent payment for December had been made by Mr Amani.
He also said the defendant may not have been aware of the seriousness of the offence and may well not be a commercial landlord, however, he had done very little to mitigate his culpability.
An aggravating factor was the defendant’s position from the outset that the tenancy agreement was a forgery when this was not the case. While Mr Lahmer told the Court that he was remorseful, that was not reflected in his account to the Probation Service, with his account differing from the evidence in the case.
With regard to harm to the victim – this was described as considerable. Mr Amani lost his job, his studies were affected and the company which he had recently set up was subsequently dissolved. There was also an impact upon his relationship with his children. He also lost most of his personal possessions.
Mr Lahmer was sentenced as follows:
- 24 weeks’ custody suspended for 18 months
- 150 hours of unpaid work to be carried out over the next 18 months
- £541 compensation payable to Mr Amani (in respect of the rent paid for December 2020)
- £1,000 contribution to the council’s prosecution costs (to be repaid at a rate of £100 per month)
- Priority is to be given to compensation in the allocation of costs
Cllr Hitesh Patel, cabinet member for environment, housing and public protection, said: “This is a fantastic outcome after the hard work that has been put in by our housing and legal teams. This should also serve as a warning for other unscrupulous landlords that this behaviour is not acceptable.
“If you are a private tenant and are illegally evicted, then the council may be able to assist with finding you alternative accommodation, negotiating with the landlord on your behalf or even supporting a prosecution against your landlord, if there is sufficient evidence.”
For more information on the council’s Homelessness and Housing Advice Service, visit: www.warrington.gov.uk/conflict-home.