An East London renter has been awarded almost £4000 with a tribunal describing the behaviour of the landlord who left them trapped in their room as “appalling”.
A recently published residential property tribunal ruling relating to a property in Upton Park, ordered a landlord to repay £3600 in rent and to pay a renter’s legal costs – with the verdict stating “a larger penal sum would be justified if the tribunal had the power to make it”
A tenant’s rights campaigner has described the landlord’s actions as “inexcusable, but far from exceptional”
The tenant alleged their landlords:
· Used violence to attempt to secure entry to the property
· Attempted an unlawful eviction through harassment
· Operated an unlicensed HMO (House in Multiple Occupation).
The landlords not only denied having committed any offences but denied ever being the applicant’s landlord, claiming the tenant was only using the property to store tools.
The Tribunal concluded that it “did not find the Respondent’s account credible… it does not make sense that (the tenant) would spend a disproportionately large sum of money storing his tools at a property he otherwise had no reason to go anywhere near”
The panel, headed by Judge Nichol, was “satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt” that the landlord attempted to unlawfully evict the tenant from the property as a result of “his disregard for legal procedures”.
In particular, the panel concluded that a visit to the property from a group of the landlord’s associates was “blatantly trying to intimidate the Applicant to leave, with the unspoken threat of the further use of violent means”.
The verdict stated:
“The Applicant was worried as to what they wanted with him or might do to him and so he stayed quiet, in the hope that they would go away. Instead (one man) tried to unlock the door using keys he had been given by the Respondents. Since the Applicant’s key was already in the door, the door could not be unlocked from the outside.
“If the First Respondent’s intentions had been entirely benign, as well as attending by himself, he would simply have gone away in the hope of seeing the Applicant later. Instead, he and the other men tried to get into the room by hitting the door to try to break the lock”
“The Applicant was frightened at this point. He phoned the police who later attended. By the time they arrived, the handle on the inside of the door had become detached and so the Applicant could not open the door either. The police asked the Applicant if he needed the door broken in and he said that he did. The police broke the lock”.
The Tribunal made a rent repayment order having concluded that the landlord has committed one offences listed in section 40(3) of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, with the verdict stating:
“The Applicant alleged that the Respondents were guilty of three such offences: (a) Using violence to secure entry to a property under section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977; (b) Unlawful eviction or harrassment contrary to section 1 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977; and (c) Having control of or managing an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) which is required to be licensed but is not so licensed, contrary to section 72(1) of the Housing Act 2004.”
Tenant’s rights campaigner Ajay Jagota of online claims firm Veriwise responded to the case:
Veriwise takes on housing disrepair claims for tenants who lack the resources to pursue them themselves, and has recently launched Very Wise Renter which checks the safety of rented properties further empowering renters.
“This landlord’s actions are inexcusable but sadly far from exceptional – as our cases and the sheer volume of tribunal rulings published on the government’s website every week prove, this kind of behaviour happens every day in every corner of the UK.
“Most tenants don’t realise that their landlords simply can’t treat them like this – or that they could be entitled to compensation or rent repayment when they do. That’s why organsations like Veriwise were created, to get justice for renters who lack the resources to get it for themselves.”
Veriwise takes on housing disrepair claims, deposit disputes and illegal eviction claims on behalf of renters, negotiating with councils or private landlords to fix the issues quickly and claim compensation for renters from landlords and agents. In cases where the landlord or agent does not comply, Veriwise can now present the case to legal counsel who can take the case to court to ensure the landlord complies and pays any compensation.
The organisation this year launched Very Wise Student and this week announced Very Wise Renter a partnership with insurer ARAG aimed at empowering renters by offering free access to:
- LEGAL HELPLINE available 24/7 access to a qualified SOLICITOR
- TAX HELPLINE
- WELL-BEING HELPLINE 24/7 access to a qualified COUNSELLOR
All legal calls are handled by qualified solicitors with at least 5 years of post-qualification experience, whilst the free and confidential counselling helpline offers support with mental health issues, personal problems or any money worries renters may have.