Landlord convicted after cutting power to house

A Salford landlord who cut off her tenant's heating, lighting and hot water to force her to move has become the first in the city to be successfully prosecuted for harassing a tenant.

Salford City Council had to take emergency action to restore power after Catherine Patricia Seale refused to reinstate services.

Seale, 51, of Salisbury Road, Eccles pleaded not guilty at Manchester Crown to an offence of unlawful eviction and harassment on 30 August 2012, under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

She was found guilty after a four day trial and on Friday 5 September she was fined £1,000 with £5,000 costs and ordered to pay £250 compensation to the victim. She was given three months to pay or face 28 days in jail.

The court heard that Seale had rented out the house in Salisbury Road, Eccles for over two years. She wanted to regain possession but instead of going through normal possession proceedings she took illegal action.

She entered the house without permission and, in front of the tenant, removed the electrical fuses and left, taking them with her. This left the tenant without heating, lighting and hot water.

The tenant promptly contacted Salford City Council and Salford Citizen's Advice Bureau but repeated efforts by both to persuade Seale to return the fuses failed. Salford City Council was forced to use emergency powers to restore the power supply.

Seale claimed she was on a training course in Oldham at the time the offence was committed and forged documentation from her employer to create a false alibi. Witness summons were obtained for her employers and her bosses gave evidence in court which proved she had created a false alibi.

Speaking after the case, Cllr Gena Merrett, assistant mayor for housing and environment, said: "There are proper procedures to go through to regain possession of a rented property.

"There was absolutely no call for Mrs Seale to behave in such a disgraceful and unpleasant way towards her tenant. The court's punishment reflects this."

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