A rogue landlord escaped an immediate prison sentence after illegally evicting tenants for complaining about a "dead animal" smell in their flat.
Kathryn Dow, of Novello Street, Parsons Green, was given a six-month prison term suspended for two years after being found guilty of illegally evicting the tenants, despite denying it.
City of London Magistrates’ Court heard how in January 2013 the 56-year-old rented the top floor of her home to two tenants who paid a large deposit for a 19-month tenancy.
However, three months later in April they noticed an overwhelming smell in the hallway and one of the bedrooms, which they suspected to be a dead animal under the floorboards but Ms Dow refused to investigate.
She also refused their request to move a large cabinet they considered a fire hazard because it blocked the hallway entrance.
The despairing tenants called Hammersmith & Fulham Council who came around and smelt the odour so sent the landlord a letter giving her seven days to take action. By August she had cancelled two further meetings with officers, the court was told.
Things only got worse for the tenants when they returned home in September to find their belongings had been removed and the locks changed, with Ms Dow claiming there had been a carbon monoxide leak so she had booked them into a hotel.
No leak was found and the tenants later discovered their belongs had been booked into a self-storage facility before the date of the claimed leak.
The council’s housing officers then investigated their claims of wrongful eviction which led to her prosecution.
Two days after the locks were changed new tenants were moved in but, within two weeks, had moved out due to a strong smell of mould and unsanitary conditions for their family.
During sentencing on February 13, Ms Dow avoided an immediate jail term but was ordered to pay £10,794 in costs and compensation.
In a separate civil claim against her, one of the original tenants was also rewarded £13,970 in damages towards their lost deposits, interest and court costs.
Lisa Homan, the council’s housing boss, said: “Rogue landlords cannot mistreat residents in this manner and this prosecution shows the council’s determination to ensure that private tenants in the borough are treated fairly.”