A LANDLORD who forced entry into a family’s home and disposed of its contents just days after the country’s first lockdown took hold has been given a two-year community order.

Gary Dulson, of Cumberland Road, Hoyland, was convicted after previously pleading guilty to unlawful eviction at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court.

The 39-year-old was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement and told to pay compensation to his victim.

Magistrates were told that Dulson’s tenant had moved into his partner’s property - along with his two young children - to form a bubble at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March last year.

Two days later Dulson attended the address, forced entry by breaking the door locks and disposed of the contents of the house into a large skip.

When the skip was full, belongings were discarded in the garden.

Following a joint investigation by Barnsley Council and South Yorkshire Police, the local authority’s Safer Neighbourhood Service team pursued prosecution on grounds of illegal eviction.

Safer Neighbourhood Service manager Mark Giles said: “One of our key aims is to make sure that communities who are most in need have access to support.

“Dulson’s behaviour was unacceptable, upsetting for the family involved and we’re pleased to have worked collaboratively to secure this conviction.

“Working alongside the police has been a big success since Joining Forces began as it’s allowed us to share resources and get results.”

Police described Dulson’s acts as a ‘horrible crime’ and vowed to continue its work to combat negligent landlords across Barnsley.

“Making people homeless by way of illegal evictions is a horrible crime,” PC Paul Davies added.

“This case was exacerbated by the removal and damage of personal effects belonging to the family.

“There was no regard to the impact this would have on the family, especially the young children.

“Dulson clearly put his own needs before the rights of his tenant.”

The combined operation - part of the Joining Forces initiative - is the latest success for the council and police who pooled their resources in 2019.

Coun Jenny Platts, cabinet spokesperson for adults and communities, said Barnsley Council will continue to put tenants’ safety first and warned landlords unacceptable conduct will not be tolerated.

“We take a firm approach against anyone who attempts to evict a tenant without a possession order being granted by the court.

“While the vast majority of landlords do follow the correct process, we are committed to investigating all reports of tenants being harassed or forced to leave a rented property.

“Keeping our residents safe in their homes is a priority for the council, and we encourage tenants to tell us if they believe they are being treated unfairly by their landlord or someone acting on their behalf.”

* If anyone finds themselves homeless as a result of an illegal eviction, call 773870 or email housingadvice@barnsley.gov.uk.