Dagenham landlord fined for unlawful eviction after secretly changing locks

Maplestead Road, Dagenham, where Stephen Rotimi unlawfully evicted and tenants and breached management regulations.

Stephen Rotimi was found guilty of unlawful eviction and breaching management regulations at a property he rented out in Maplestead Road, Dagenham. - Credit: Google

A dodgy landlord in Dagenham prevented gas and electricity meters from being topped up and secretly changed the locks while his tenants were at work.

When investigated, Stephen Kayode Rotimi, 64, denied allegations of unlawfully evicting the four tenants and claimed they had all left the property voluntarily, according to Barking and Dagenham Council.

Some of the tenants were said to have significant medical conditions, which worsened when they were locked out and unable to access key medication inside the property.

Rotimi, of Halbutt Street, Dagenham, was found guilty on October 28 of unlawful eviction and breaching management regulations at a property he rented out in Maplestead Road, Dagenham.

He was ordered to pay more than £13,000 following a two-day trial at Romford Magistrates’ Court.

In October 2019, one of the tenants told council staff that when he had returned home from work and tried to open the front door, his keys couldn’t unlock it.

He advised officers that he had a tenancy agreement and paid his rent via bank transfer.

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Following this, the council’s enforcement team visited the property numerous times.

Rotimi continued to deny the allegations and claimed the occupants had left voluntarily, according to the council.

Rotimi also breached several housing regulations at the property, including failure to display landlord contact information; ensure an up-to-date electrical certificate was available; maintain and ensure the internal structure is in good repair; and ensure adequate refuse disposal facilities. 

He was ordered to pay a total of £13,474, including £2,000 for each eviction, £700 for breach of management regulations and prosecutions costs of £4,574.

Barking and Dagenham councillor Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: “We’re more than happy for private landlords to operate in the borough, but they must follow the rules set and this individual certainly hasn’t. 

“He knew some of his tenants personally, but still failed to provide suitable housing for them - even though they paid their rent - and then ultimately illegally evicted them."