Landlords beware! Prince Evans Solicitors secure damages for unlawful eviction
Prince Evans Solicitors recently acted for a private tenant Mr K who moved into a property in the Ealing area in late 2012 after securing the accommodation via a Letting Agent. Mr K paid £5843.00 to the landlord before moving into the property which covered the deposit and first month’s rent in advance.
Mr K was given assurances by the landlord prior to moving into the property that the property would be fully furnished. Yet, on moving into the property, the tenant was astonished to find there was still no furniture including a sofa, nor was he provided with a mail box key allowing him to retrieve his mail. He was also denied keys to the garage. Mr K made repeated phone calls to the landlord and to the Letting Agent who again assured him that the furniture would arrive soon.
On the 8th January 2013, Mr K’s brother-in-law came to stay with the tenant for a few days at the property as a visitor. Whilst Mr K had gone to buy groceries he received a very distressing phone call from his visitor who informed him that the Landlord and other men were at the property pushing him out of the front door and had thrown all the belongings out of the property. Mr K was alarmed at this information and was concerned for the safety of his visitor and therefore rushed back to the property to find that the Landlord and his men had locked themselves inside the property so Mr K could not gain access. The men shouted at Mr K to leave.
The Police were called to the property and the tenant informed them of the situation and that he was a legal tenant at the property. The Landlord mis-informed the Police that the property was being illegally sublet. The Police decided it was a civil matter but provided a full witness statement to support any Court proceedings. Mr K was extremely upset and distressed, he had no where to go and no relatives in the area. He therefore has no option but to stay in a hotel until he could find alternative accommodation at further considerable cost.
Mr K instructed Prince Evans Solicitors to bring a claim for unlawful eviction against the landlord and to seek damages including; return of his deposit and aggravated damages for the distress he had suffered. The Police officers witness statement was used as evidence in Court.
At the final Court hearing, the tenant was awarded the sum of £13,365 and was awarded his full legal costs. The damages included; general damages for distress and inconvenience, an award for special damages to cover the cost of the tenant living in a hotel and money spent on food, full return of the deposit, a Statutory penalty for not protecting the deposit in a Government authorised scheme and an award for exemplary/aggravated damages to mark the Court’s disapproval of the manner in which the tenant was illegal evicted from the property and failure to use the lawful Court process.
Mr K will now take action to enforce the order of the Court to receive the sum lawfully due to him. Landlords are reminded that as well as being an offence under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, illegally evicting someone can constitute an offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
Illegal Eviction and Harassment are Criminal Offences and the maximum penalty in a Crown Court is an unlimited fine and 2 years’ imprisonment.