The excellent housing law section in Legal Action magazine has five cases reported this month on harassment and unlawful eviction. I summarise them below.
1. Fakhari v. Newman, Woolwich County Court, 7 January 2010
Here the landlords failed to protect the deposit, and there were repairing problems with the boiler, and the windows.
However it was the landlords’ behaviour which was the main problem – they made it clear that they did not want him in the property and were continually contacting him about it.
They tried to make him sign a tenancy agreement for an extra £500pm and attended the property without an appointment. They also reported Mr Newman to the police saying that he had threatened to blow up the building. When they issued proceedings for possession Mr Newman counterclaimed.
The Judge awarded the tenant:
- £2,995 under the tenancy deposit regulations
- £9,250 for disrepair (25% of rent btn May 08 – Dec 09, 75% rent btn Dec 08 and Jun 09, 43% rent from June onwards)
- £2,000 for harassment
- £2,000 exemplary damages
Total £16,205, plus the Judge ordered that the landlord protect the deposit.
2. Walsh v. Shuangyan, Manchester County Court, 14 January 2010
This concerned a tenancy for a room in an HMO. The Local Authority served notices on the landlord as she had failed to obtain a license, requiring her to do various remedial works. As a result of the boiler and electricity being disconnected, all the tenants except Mr Walsh moved out.
Mr Walsh was then subjected to a reign of harassment and intimidation by the landlord and her father, who also assaulted him. On one occasion he had to barricade himself into his room while they were in the house.
On 16 September he arrived home to find the locks had been changed and some of his possessions put into bin bags. The rest were still inside the room where he could not get at them. He complained to the Local Authority Tenancy Relations Officer (TRO) who spoke to the landlord but she still refused to let him in.
She also refused to comply with an injunction obtained by Mr Walsh and was committed to prison for 28 days. Mr Walsh had to sleep on friends sofas for 30 days, missed work, and developed a painful back.
He was awarded the following:
- £2,000 for harassment before the eviction
- £6,000 for the eviction and its consequences (based on a ‘daily rate’ of £200)
- £4,000 for aggravated damages
- £1,500 exemplary damages (representing the costs the landlord might have incurred had she sought advice and evicted Mr Walsh lawfully)
- £5,750 special damages for his lost possessions and earnings
- £204 interest
- Costs on an indemnity basis
Total £19,454 (plus the indemnity costs)
3. Anslow v. Hayes, Manchester County Court, 15 October 2009
This is another HMO tenancy of a room case. Mr Anslow accrued some arrears and as a result was threatened with eviction by his landlord. Then one day he arrived home to find he was not allowed to enter. He contacted Mr Hayes to get him allowed back in, but Mr Hayes refused and instead reported him to the police.
Mr Anslow got help from a TRO and a solicitor, but he was still refused admittance. His girlfriend had to go in to get his possessions, but some were never recovered including some of high sentimental value, which were disposed of or removed without his consent. He spent 73 days in cramped conditions with his then girlfriend before finding somewhere else to live.
The Judge awarded:
- £7,000 general damages to compensate him for the 73 days he was deprived of his home
- £2,000 aggravated damages, taking into account the fact that Hayes had been warned that his conduct was illegal
- £1,000 exemplary damages (representing the costs the landlord might have incurred had he sought advice and evicted Mr Anslow lawfully)
- Interest and costs
Total £10,000 plus costs
4. Schuchard v Fu, Brentford County Court, 25 February 2010
Another HMO room case, Mr Suchard was the tenant. The landlord wanted him out so she could do renovation works. She sent letters but no s21 notice.
On 6 July she wrote asking him to leave the next day becuase of rent arrears. On 7 July she changed the locks to the front door and refused to give him the new keys. The following day the local TRO asked her to readmit Mr Suchard but she refused, and said she would only let him in again if the rent arrears were paid. She continued to refuse to allow him in when his solicitors wrote to her.
Mr Suchard was homeless for 120 days as he, his solicitor and the TRO, were unable to find him accommodation. He was then housed for 77 days by the local authority, but after that he spent the next 35 days up to trial sleeping on a friends floor. He was awarded:
- £24,000 general and aggravated damages at £200 per day while he was street homeless
- £2,000 for the 77 days he was given accommodation by the local authority
- £4,375 general and aggravated damages for the final period when he was living on a friends floor
- £1,750 exemplary damages, as the landlords had evicted him so he could do up the property disregarding his rights
5. Keddey v. Hughes, Sheffield County Court, 12 March 2010
Mr Keddey lived in a property with his mother from 2005, and took it over for himself from mid 2007. The landlord believed that Mr Keddey had agreed to move out in October 2008 and arranged to let the property to new tenants. However Mr Keddey then decided not to move out after all.
The landlord should of course have read >> this blog post here. However instead he assaulted Mr Keddey on a number of occasions, and then physically ejected him from the property, although he was able to get back in later that day.
However later in the month Mr Keddey came home to find the landlord in his property packing up his furniture. Some of his possessions were damaged. Mr Keddey decided to leave and not return. He stayed in bed and breakfast accommodation for three to four weeks before finding alternative accommodation.
The Judge awarded:
- £4,620 for unlawful eviction, being £165 per night for the 28 days in bed and breakfast
- £1,500 for harassment and trespass to person and property
- £1,000 for aggravated damages
- £2,000 exemplary damages, as the ejection from the property had been public, upsetting and humiliating, and the defendant had been warned by the local authority not to do it. Plus the rent charged to the new tenants was more than that charged to Mr Keddey
- £750 special damages
All five are serious cases, however none of them have reached the level of damages in the Cashmere v. Walsh case.
Have you been involved in any similar cases? How do these levels of damages compare?