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London Police Ordered to Arrest Landlords Over Unlawful Evictions

In an effort to enhance the protection of tenants in London, local police have received directives to arrest landlords responsible for unlawful, and in some instances, aggressive evictions.

This new directive is a response to rising concerns about police favouritism and their potential facilitation of certain illicit evictions. Furthermore, the police have been explicitly advised that landlords who use or threaten violence to gain entry into an inhabited residence are in breach of the law.

Campaigners championing renters’ rights speculate that roughly 8,000 tenants are illicitly evicted annually in England. However, only a minor fraction of these cases are flagged as potential criminal activities.

The newly revealed guidance, which the Guardian has gained access to, urges officers to “arrest where necessary.” It also educates them on red flags indicating illegal evictions: landlords altering locks, forcefully ousting tenants, disconnecting utilities, and employing intimidation and bullying tactics.

This directive stems from a collaboration between Scotland Yard, London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and tenants’ advocacy groups, such as Generation Rent.

Khan, recognising the persistent issue of unlawful evictions in the private rental sector back in 2018, remarked that vulnerable tenants, often uninformed about their rights, are most susceptible. Despite training initiatives for several police officers, the issue remains unresolved.

In a statement regarding the guidance, Khan expressed, “For too long, rogue landlords have been able to take advantage of the fact that, until now, there have been few protections in place to safeguard London’s renters from illegal evictions.”

He continued, “[The guidance] will ensure that London renters not only have a much clearer sense of their rights, but that frontline police officers are far better equipped to respond to incidences of tenants being harassed, threatened or illegally forced out of their homes by their landlords.”

A representative from Scotland Yard confirmed their collaboration with City Hall to uphold tenant rights. They further mentioned the guidance’s availability on their internal network.

Echoing these sentiments, Dan Wilson Craw, Generation Rent’s Deputy Chief Executive, stated, “Renters need the full protection of the law when threatened with an illegal eviction. Police officers must not dismiss them as civil matters or, worse still, assist any landlord in these criminal acts.”

It’s imperative for the police to differentiate between civil and criminal actions, recognising that harassment, assault, and the violent assertion of entry are criminal activities. They must also caution landlords against committing such offences, ensure the tenant’s right to return to their homes, and arrest when required.

Lastly, a spokesperson from the Metropolitan Police emphasised, “Starting at the point that the effort of a landlord or representative to evict an individual/individuals is illegal will prompt officers to ensure that there is a bailiff in place who is in possession of the relevant paperwork, and that due process – as per the legislation – has been followed.”