The August edition LAG housing updates also contain a couple of County Court unlawful eviction and harassment cases that are well worth noting, particularly on quantum.
Abbas v Iqbal, Bow County Court 4 June 2009. Mr Abbas, who was elderly and in poor health, was granted a weekly periodic AST of a single room with shared kitchen and bathroom. The rent was £60 pw. In November 2007, the landlord – Mr Iqbal – told Mr Abbas he would have to leave as the property was to be converted into flats. In April 2008 a written notice was served, to leave within two weeks. The notice was defective and invalid. Mr A remained in occupation. In late May 2008, Mr I instructed contractors to begin work. On 30 May, the gas supply to the building was disconnected. On 31 May the water was disconnected. No warning was given in either instance. On 9 June, Mr A obtained an injunction ordering reinstatement of gas and water. Mr I failed to comply and works continued. The building was shortly made uninhabitable. Mr A had to spend some nights sleeping in friends’ business premises before the local authority provided temporary accommodation. He returned to the property in mid June 2008 to find all his furniture and belongings had been removed and disposed of.
Mr A claimed for unlawful eviction, harassment and, apparently, nuisance and disrepair (not mentioned in the LAG report, but apparent from the damages).
At trial damages of £39,194 were awarded:
£150 per day for the 13 days of building works and lack of utilities
£250 per day for 3 days sleeping in business premises
£1,000 for having to vacate before the tenancy had been terminated
£10,000 aggravated damages
£7,500 exemplary damages
£2,000 per year for 6 years cockroach and rodent infestation
£500 for a toilet defective for 6 months
£5,494 special damages (described by the court as almost certainly an undervalue).
If anyone from Mr Abbas’ team is reading , I would be interested to hear how the exemplary damages were arrived at. Oh and what was wrong with the toilet?
The second case is Jarvis v Sherif, Central London Civil Justice Centre, 28 May 2009. Mr and Mrs Jarvis had a 12 month AST. Disrepair made conditions ‘extremely uncomfortable’. In August 2008, with no repairs done despite many requests, they withheld rent until repairs were done. [Note to any tenants reading – do NOT do this]. The landlord decided repairs would be too expensive and sent a letter threatening to change the locks. Two days later, on 17 October 2008, the Jarvises were unlawfully evicted. Mr J suffered great distress. he had a mental illness and was deprived of medication. They managed to retrieve only some of their belongings in December 2008. The flat had been re-let in the interim. They had to stay with a parent, in difficult conditions, until January 2009 when they secured alternative accommodation.
General damages (including aggravated damages) of £2,500 to Mr J and £2,000 to Mrs J.
Exemplary damages of £3,000
Special damages of £2,200.
Again, if any of the Jarvis’ team are reading this, how were the exemplary damages arrived at?
(Let’s just say calculation of exemplary damages is a current obsession of mine – please gratify it)