Family Unlawfully Evicted Receives Damages of £22,000

13 Jul 2023 | Tom McHale

Table of Contents

This matter involved an unlawful eviction claim brought by our clients against their private landlord (“the Landlord”). Our clients were a young couple with a two year old child who lived at the Landlord’s property (“the Property”) on an assured shorthold tenancy with a six month break clause. Our clients paid the first six months’ rent in advance, however on 20 January 2020 (six months into the tenancy) they received a s.21 “no fault eviction” notice. It gave the date after which our clients had to leave the Property as 16 March 2020. This presented an issue as our clients had booked a family holiday to Dubai and then to Bangladesh at this time and could not leave by the date of the notice. Our clients informed the Landlord of this accordingly and were given verbal assurance that they would definitely not have to leave the Property until April 2020 and potentially not until May 2020. While on holiday our clients tried to pay rent to the Landlord but experienced issues with the banking app they used while abroad and the payments did not go through. Both the Landlord and his letting agent were made aware of this fact by our clients.

Our clients returned to the Property in the evening of 16 March 2020 after an 18 hour flight to find that the locks on the Property had been changed and they were unable to enter. They had not been informed of this beforehand and had nowhere else to go. Our clients contacted both the Landlord and the letting agent but the Landlord did not answer and the letting agent told them to stop calling. Our clients then called the police and were advised to contact a locksmith to regain entry. On regaining entry, our clients saw that most of their belongings had been removed by the Landlord. Left with no choice, they then stayed the night in the flat. At around 7:45 AM the next morning, the Landlord and a family member came to the flat. They shouted at our clients to open the door and when they did not do so they kicked in the door, grabbed one of our clients by his shoulder and forcibly threw him out of the Property. The Landlord then proceeded to throw our client’s remaining belongings out of the flat and into the corridor. Our clients were left shaken and disturbed by this experience and had to stay with a family member thereafter in overcrowded conditions with their belongings missing. They were not rehoused by Camden Council until 10 August 2020.

Our clients then approached the firm for assistance and proceedings were issued against the Landlord who acted as a litigant in person. Efforts were made to settle the case prior to the hearing with a Part 36 offer being made but the Landlord refused this. The hearing took place on 10 June 2022 at the Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court. The Landlord did not appear at the hearing. During the hearing we played audio of calls to the police made by our client when the Landlord forcibly entered the Property. The Judge found that our client’s claim was successfully made out and they were awarded general damages; damages for trespass to the person; aggravated damages for both clients separately; exemplary damages (for the Landlord’s actions towards the clients and breach of the tenancy); special damages for lost possessions; and interest on damages as a result of damages being valued over the Part 36 offer made during the course of proceedings. The total damages figure comes to £22,005.76 and we were also awarded our legal costs for all work carried out on the case. The landlord then tried to set aside this order and appeared in person at a subsequent set aside hearing. He was unsuccessful in this regard and further costs were awarded against him.

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