The January issues of Legal Action Magazine has two reports on harassment and unlawful eviction damages cases, which I thought might interest you. Note the massive damages in the second case!
Odera v. Iqbal – Luton County Court, 3 September 2009
In this case the tenant had the tenancy of a room in a shared house which she lived in with her 11 year old daughter. She claimed that the landlord harassed her and was continually entering her room without permission. In January 2008 he gave her a defective possession notices. She found alternative accommodation and packed up ready to move. However she was unable to get the keys to the new premises as she did not have enough money for the deposit, so she returned to her original property.
Later that night her possessions were removed by the landlord and another man and placed outside, and the defendant and her daughter were dragged outside and left there. It must have been terrifying for them. They called the police, but as sadly seems to be typical in this type of case, the police believed the landlord when he said the tenants had no right to be there!
The tenant spent the night in emergency accommodation. When she went back to collect her belongings she found that they have been left in the back garden and were rain damaged.
At the hearing the Judge accepted the tenants evidence and made the following order:
- £500 for breach of the ‘covenant of quiet enjoyment’ and trespass for the 2 weeks before the eviction
- £1,000 for the assault and method of eviction
- £1,500 aggravated damages, particularly as the claimant’s daughter witnessed the assault
- £1,000 exemplary damages because the landlord had replaced the tenant with other tenants who could rent the whole property
- £750 was subsequently agreed for damages for the damaged possessions
Total £4,750 plus, presumably, costs.
Cashmere v. Walsh, Downing and Veale – Central London County Court, 27 October 2009
In this case Mr Cashmere had an assured tenancy of a flat in the Docklands from 1990. The flat was bought by Ms Downing in 2000 as a ‘bare trustee’ for Mr Walsh. Ms Veale was Ms Downings mother and an associate of Mr Walsh.
There were a number of problems with the flat’s condition, for example an inoperative heater, a defective toilet handle, and the like. In December 2007 Ms Downing and Ms Veale asked him to move out so that repair works could be done He did this, handed the keys over, and allowed the landlord to clear the flat of his belongings.
The repair works were done, but when Mr Cashmere asked for a key so he could move back in again, this was refused. He was told that he could not have they keys or his possessions back because there were rent arrears. He tried several times to contact them, and his solicitors wrote, but were told that Mr Walsh was now the owner and that a new tenant was now in occupation.
At the hearing HHJ Cowell found that Mr Cashmere had been duped into handing over the keys and that there had never been any intention of letting him have the flat back. Damages were awarded as follows:
- Mr Walsh (as owner of the premises) £73,215
- Ms Downing (as co-owner just before the eviction and Mr Walsh’s agent at all times) £33,715
- Ms Veale (as agent of Mr Walsh and a controlling influence over the others) £24,515.
These were calculated as follows:
- £9,200 for disrepair – £1,200 for the first 3 years (ie £400 pa or 4% of the rent) and £8,000 for the rest of the time (about 15% of the rent)
- £47,000 against Mr Walsh under s27 and s28 of the Housing Act 1988. Although Mr Cashmere had arrears of some £7,000 and had sometimes caused a nuisance, it was clear that the real reason for the eviction was so that they could sell the flat. Therefore no reduction was made for the rent arrears or nuisance.
- £8,000 against Ms Veale and Ms Downing for their part in the deception and their refusal to hand over the keys which amounted to trespass
- £500 for failure to repay the deposit
- £6,515 for Mr Cashmere’s belongings which were never recovered
- £10,000 aggravated damages against all three defendants. They had lied throughout, including lying about there being a new tenant, which had had the effect of preventing Mr Cashmere’s solicitors from applying for an injunction for re-reinstatement.
An eye popping total of £81,215! I expect Mr Cashmere is feeling a bit better about things now.