Landlords behaving badly
Three recent unreported county court cases give some useful insight into how courts approach the question of quantum in unlawful eviction cases.
Tyto v Narang - 12 May 2016 - The County Court at Brentford
Ms Tyto was granted a six month assured shorthold tenancy at a rent of £850 per month by Mr Narang through a letting agent. She subsequently moved her husband and three daughters into the property. Ms Tyto had previously paid the letting agent £1500 which consisted of £750 rent in advance and £750 by way of deposit for a property owned by a different landlord, which had fallen through. The letting agent carried these sums over. The tenancy agreement made no reference to a deposit and no money was protected in an authorised tenancy deposit scheme.
The tenancy agreement did not contain a term preventing Ms Tyto from sharing possession and did not limit occupation to her alone. However, the landlord alleged that that she was in breach of her Tenancy Agreement by moving her family in. Mr Narang therefore asked Ms Tyto and her family to leave and when she refused to do so, he subsequently changed the locks. Ms Tyto and her family were given temporary accommodation by the local authority but this only consisted of one room with a shared bathroom and kitchen. Ms Tyto therefore obtained an injunction against Mr Narang requiring him to re-admit her and not to interfere with her quiet enjoyment of the property.
Mr Narang refused to re-admit the other members of Ms Tyto's family on the basis that they were not named on the order. Mr Narang's letting agent and Mr Narang were verbally abusive and Ms Tyto and her family returned to the local authority temporary accommodation.
Ms Tyto brought a claim for damages against Mr Narang for trespass to land, breach of quiet enjoyment in respect of her unlawful eviction, trespass to goods and failure to protect her deposit. Mr Narang failed to attend or be represented at Trial.
The defence was struck out and judgment was given in Ms Tyto's favour in the total sum of £29,394.15 comprising of:
- £22,540 for trespass to land and breach of quiet enjoyment, calculated as
- £140 per night for 161 nights spent in temporary accommodation, until one month after the expiry of the fixed term, this being the earliest date Mr Narang could legally obtain possession;
- £1,095 special damages for lost belongings;
- £650 for return of the deposit being the sum held by the letting agent after the payment of the first month's rent of
- £850, although the tenancy agreement contained no deposit term;
- £1,625 under s214 of the Housing Act 2004 as a penalty for non-protection of the deposit, being two and a half times the deposit that was taken;
- £3,000 was also awarded for aggravated and exemplary damages.
Sypnliewski v Wakelin - 21 December 2015, County Court at Bournemouth
Mr Sypnliewski (S) was granted a fixed term assured shorthold tenancy by Mr Wakelin (W). He paid a deposit of £400. The fixed term expired and the tenancy therefore became a statutory periodic assured shorthold tenancy at which point W engaged in a sustained campaign to drive S out by, for example, disconnecting his utilities, changing the locks, smashing the windows of his vehicles and culminated in S's wrongful eviction by giving false information to the police. W also failed to comply with any of the tenancy deposit provisions of the Housing Act 2004.
Mr S sought damages for breach of covenant, wrongful eviction, harassment and interference with goods and applied to commit Mr W for contempt.
At the start of the Trial W was debarred from defending the proceedings as he had failed to comply with directions including the filing of evidence.
District Judge Willis commented that this was one of the worst cases he had seen considering the sustained campaign by W and awarded S total damages of £31,514.90 consisting of the following:
- General damages of £17,720;
- Aggravated damages of £2,000;
- Exemplary damages of £5,750;
- Statutory damages of £2,400 plus £400 deposit.
Begache v Noreen - 29 March 2016, County Court at Birmingham
Ms Noreen (N) evicted Mr Begache (B), a single man, whilst he was on holiday. N then began to use the property as her family home and when B returned from holiday he obtained an interim Injunction for re-entry but N initially failed to comply with this Injunction.
This forced B to stay with friends. An altercation took place between B and N when B tried to gain access to the property.
When B was re-admitted he found that the property was dirty and some of his belongings had gone missing.
District Judge Kelly granted a final Injunction protecting B's quiet enjoyment of the property and awarded him a total of £6,675 in damages calculated as follows:
- £200 for 16 nights that B was excluded from the property;
- £300 for the week when B was on holiday
and unaware that N had evicted him from the property;
- £250 for the poor condition of the property when B returned;
- £425 special damages for B's missing belongings;
- £1,500 in aggravated damages;
- £1,000 in exemplary damages.