A COUPLE have to pay £2,000 after they were convicted of unlawfully evicting tenants.
Dale and Alison Philips, of Springwell Close, Liversedge, were found guilty by magistrates in Dewsbury of illegally evicting the tenants and their young family from a house in Firthcliffe Terrace, Liversedge, last July.
Each was fined £500 and both must also pay £500 costs.
The prosecution was brought by Kirklees Council's Tenancy Relations Service under the 1977 Protec- tion from Eviction Act.
Harassment and unlawful eviction by landlords or their agents are criminal offences under this law.
The magistrates heard that while the tenants were out, Philips, 41, and his wife, 40, climbed into the property through an open first-floor window.
They changed the locks so the tenants could not get back in the house and threw the tenants' belongings into the back garden.
These included children's toys and their baby's cot, which were then ruined by heavy rain.
A spokesman for the Tenancy Relations Service said: "This was a particularly heartless example of unlawful eviction of a young family. We are pleased with this outcome.
"We hope this sends a strong message to landlords who break the law in this way.
"Both the council and the courts have shown that these incidents will be taken seriously and dealt with accordingly."
The spokesman added: "The tenants and witnesses came forward in this instance after reading a report in the local newspaper of a previous successful prosecution by the council of unlawful eviction.
"This shows that the Tenancy Relations Service needs to continue to work with private tenants and their landlords, through landlords' and tenants' forums and accreditation schemes, to raise awareness of both parties' rights and responsibilities."
Anyone who needs more information should phone tenancy relations officers on 01484 221400 or by e-mail at tenancy.relations@kirklees. gov.uk