07 May 2019

Bristol landlord fined for harassing tenants

Bristol City Council has successfully prosecuted a landlord who was harassing his tenants.

Michael McDonagh, from Doncaster Road in Southmead, pleaded guilty to harassment towards tenants of a property he owneed on the same street, following an investigation by the council’s new Rogue Landlord Unit.

At Bristol Magistrates Court Mr McDonagh was fined £200 and ordered to pay compensation of £1,000 to the tenants. He was also ordered to pay £600 costs and a victim surcharge of £30.

Following an investigation, he was accused of carrying out significant building works at the property, being aggressive towards the tenants and threatening to have them evicted and remove their property from the premises.

The tenants, two brothers, moved in to the property in December 2016 with a six month tenancy, this was renewed for two years in June 2017.  Shortly after the brothers were told some building work was to start on the house. The works started but it became clear that they were to be more extensive than they had been told, with a new extension to be built. When the brothers complained to Mr McDonagh, they were told if they did not like it they could find somewhere else to live. 

Following the complaints, Mr McDonagh went on to make threats to evict the tenants and remove their belongings from the house.

The brothers recorded some of the conversations on their mobile phones.

They continued to live in the property while the works were carried on the kitchen for another month until they found alternative accommodation. When they left they requested the return of their £1000 deposit, which they were not given.

Councillor Paul Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Everyone has a right to a safe and secure home.  Here in Bristol we are stepping up our enforcement action on rogue landlords and have set up the Rogue Landlord Unit to offer extra protection and support for tenants.  This new unit takes a complete and well rounded approach to tackling unlawful practices by landlords as well as traders.  Enforcement action against illegal eviction and harassment by landlords is a priority for the unit in order to protect vulnerable tenants, so we are very pleased with today’s result.”