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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Call made for tougher rent laws
Dirty kitchen
Housing activists want tougher measures against rogue landlords
Homelessness charity Shelter has called for tougher laws in Scotland to deal with landlords who carry out unlawful evictions of their tenants.

The charity wants to see the Housing Scotland Bill amended so that councils will have the ability to investigate unscrupulous private landlords.

Measures to deal with the problem are currently progressing through the Scottish Parliament.

Experts said the current system makes it easy for landlords to break the law.

Campaigners want the responsibility of dealing with rogue landlords in such cases to be taken away from the police and handed to councils.

The current system makes it easy for unscrupulous landlords to break the law
Liz Nicholson
Shelter Scotland

They said local authorities have specialist knowledge and are ideally placed to handle cases of illegal eviction.

Director of Shelter Scotland Liz Nicholson made the call for change at a news conference on the subject on Friday.

She said: "The current system makes it easy for unscrupulous landlords to break the law.

"They can exploit the fact that tenants have little knowledge of the law and that criminal prosecutions are currently incredibly difficult to secure.

Violent threats

"With their familiarity with housing law and their duty to prevent homelessness, as well as keep a register of landlords, councils are ideally placed to handle cases of illegal eviction."

Unlawful evictions, sometimes known as illegal evictions, occur when a tenant is unlawfully deprived of occupation of the premises.

This can be carried out in a number of ways, including evicting people without obtaining a court order, changing the locks, or making threats of violence.

Landlords are guilty of harassment if they try to force a tenant from the property, for example by intimidation, or withdrawing services such as gas or water.

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