Rogue Landlord Guilty Of Illegally Evicting Mother And Son

And now faces even tougher penalties on appeal

A landlord who was found guilty late last year of waging a campaign of harassment and intimidation against a young mother he wanted to evict from a Queenstown Road flat, has lost his bid to overturn that conviction and sentence.

Joel Zwiebel from Hackney and his property company Interpage Limited have now had their appeals thrown out by a judge at Kingston Crown Court.

In November Mr Zwiebel and Interpage were jointly ordered to pay a total of £10,500 in fines and court costs, and also told to pay their victim £2,000 as compensation for her ordeal after they were convicted at Wimbledon Magistrates Court of two offences under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Mr Zwiebel and Interpage will be re-sentenced next month by the crown court judge, who has the power to impose a more stringent sentence than was available to the magistrates at the original hearing.

The case was brought to court by Wandsworth Council’s housing department, after it emerged that Mr Zwiebel and another man called Derrick Stuart - who was also convicted in November but did not take part in this week’s appeal – had harassed the young woman and her son in a bid to evict them.

The woman and her young child had lived at the rented flat in Queenstown Road for many years even though it suffered from damp, water leaks and serious disrepair. When Mr Zwiebel and his company refused to fix these problems she began withholding her rent, prompting him to begin eviction proceedings. At this point the Council intervened and negotiated a compromise agreement in which she would pay the rent she owed and he would carry out the necessary repairs.

Rogue Landlord Guilty Of Illegally Evicting Mother And Son However almost immediately Mr Zweibel reneged on the deal. Instead of fixing the defects he sent Mr Stuart – who had previously been the subject of a BBC Rogue Traders investigation - to the property and he proceeded to switch off her gas and electricity supply even though it was the middle of winter.

A few days later she arrived back at the flat to find the locks had been changed and she could no longer get in to her home. It took her 18 months to eventually regain her possessions, most of which she reported to have either disappeared or been broken.

Paul Ellis, Wandsworth’s housing spokesman, said, “This was an utterly appalling display by these men. They waged a disgraceful and unforgivable campaign of harassment against this mother and her son.

“To switch off their gas and electricity in the middle of winter showed a shocking lack of compassion so I am pleased the court has upheld these convictions. Now the judge will be able to impose a new sentence and I hope it will be a salutary one that serves as a warning to other landlords thinking of following the same illegal path.”

For his role in the eviction, Mr Stuart, from Newham, was fined £1,500, with £2,500 costs and also ordered to pay a further £1,000 in compensation.


March 1, 2017