Belfast Telegraph

Belfast landlord fined £500 for illegally changing locks on couple with two young kids

By Andrew Madden, local democracy reporter

Belfast City Council should have more powers over landlords, it has been said, after a man was fined for illegally changing the locks on a house rented by a family with two young children.

Belfast landlord Ciaran Doherty, of Mount Eagles Drive in the west of the city, was fined £500 in court on Tuesday for unlawfully depriving the family of occupation of a house they were renting from him in nearby Mount Eagles Link.

Both the couple’s children were under two years old at the time of the incident in April last year.

The offence was prosecuted as it was contrary to Article 54(1) of the Rent (NI) Order 1978, as amended by the Private Tenancies (NI) Order 2006.

Mr Doherty was also ordered to pay a £15 offender levy, £200 in legal costs and £17 in court costs, after a successful prosecution by Belfast City Council.

Sinn Fein representative for the area, councillor Daniel Baker, said more powers should be given to Belfast City Council to prevent these kinds of incidents from taking place.

“I'm shocked. No one anywhere should be locked out of their home. There is a housing crisis in west Belfast. More social and affordable homes are desperately needed,” he said.

“Landlords should be registered and regulated by Belfast city council and greater enforcement powers granted.”

Currently, under the Landlord Registration Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014, all private landlords must provide accurate and up to date information about themselves and their properties to Stormont’s Department for Communities.

Registration lasts for three years, when landlords must re-register, costing £80 or £70 online.

In Belfast, tenants can check if their landlord is registered and if they’re not you can reported to the council.

In addition to failing to register, a landlord can be reported for provide false information and, if found guilty, can be issued with a fixed penalty of up to £500 or £2,500 if taken to court.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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