In the July edition of Legal Action’s housing reports is the otherwise unreported Salah v Munro Willesden County Court April 2009. This was a harassment and unlawful eviction case. Ms Salah began an assured shorthold tenancy of a room on 23 March 2008 for a 6 month fixed term. Ms S applied for HB which was granted but did not cover the full rent, even after appeal. The landlord, Mr Munro had a ‘no HB’ policy, which he decided to enforce in a forthright and utterly unlawful manner. First he told Ms S to leave. Then, in May 08 his brother and girlfriend went to the property and demanded that she leave and return the key. Ms S refused, then went out, taking her key. On her return she found the locks changed and some of her belongings in bags in the street. Some items were missing. She spent a night in hospital after an asthma attack then sofa surfed until being re-admitted 10 days later following a court order.
Mr M continued to harass Ms S — missing furniture was not replaced and he accused her of being a prostitute. After the 6 month term, Mr M disabled the gas and electricity supply to the room, so Ms S had to stay at a friend’s home for a month. The electric was reconnected only once the landlord was notified that Ms S had been granted funding for a committal application. Ms S only stayed intermittently at the property after that. In January 09 Mr M saw Ms S at the property. He called the police who, helpfully, confiscated her keys.
At trial the court awarded:
Unlawful eviction — general damages of £8600. The usual range was £100 to £300 per night. Here £200 was appropriate, for 43 nights.
Aggravated damages — £2000
Exemplary damages — £2000
Special damages (in the absence of receipts) — £1000
Arrears of rent of £750 deducted from the damages — not including the excluded period and with rent assessed at 50% for the period without gas.
No separate award on the harassment, apparently. Anyone from Warnapala & Co, or Mr Bernard Lo, with more information?