Broudie Jackson Canter represented Miss L at Liverpool County Court on an unlawful eviction claim. The case settled with the landlord agreeing to pay her a sum of £11,800.00 in damages for a period of 4 months, where Miss L was denied access to her rented property.
Miss L rented a property from Patterson’s Estate Limited. Due to some personal circumstances, she occasionally stayed with her family for emotional support. Miss L regularly returned to her property to check on her mail. On the day in question, she tried to enter her home and found the locks had been changed.
She telephoned the Estate Agency and was told that she would not be allowed back into the property to retrieve her belongings unless she cleared the rent arrears. They claimed that she owed over £2,000.00 in rent arrears. Miss L disputed this and obtained a printout from the Housing Benefit department to show what payments were made and that the arrears were in the region of £800.00
We wrote to Patterson’s Estate Agency, and put them on notice, that unless they allowed her back into her property, she would apply to Liverpool County Court for an Injunction Order allowing her to do so.
The Estate Agent attempted to argue that Miss L abandoned the property. Miss L argued on the contrary. Her belongings were still in the property. They were still receiving the rent. Miss L tried to contact the agent to keep him updated with her circumstances but to no avail. The only form of contact she had was the agents mobile. When she visited the office she found it to be closed. The Estate Agent refused to let her back in. In fact, 3 days after receiving our letter, they let the property to another tenant.
Miss L was homeless for 4 months before she managed to secure alternative accommodation.
The Estate Agent appeared in person and actually believed that he could successfully defend the Injunction Claim and not have to pay damages. The Judge on the other hand indicated that Ms L had been unlawfully evicted and that it would be appropriate for the parties to discuss a settlement.
This case demonstrates the extent to which some rogue landlords will go to, to evict their tenants illegally. They will adopt bully tactics to scare the tenants away. They will try to re-let the property so that you are prevented from moving back in. Fortunately for Ms L, she sought legal advice.
If you as tenants allow rogue landlords to get away with these actions, then they will never be punished. They may threaten you and paint you to be a bad tenant. But ultimately, they cannot get passed the law. If they re-let the property, you can bring possession proceedings against the new tenant or add them into the claim, because legally, they have no legal right to be in the property even if it is not their fault.
It is illegal to evict a tenant without a court order no matter what the circumstances are. Legal Aid is still available to apply to court for an Injunction Order to be allowed back into the property. If your landlord is harassing you, then the Injunction Order can include a term to stay away from you. If the landlord does not comply with the order, then he or she faces the prospect of being committed to prison.