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Landlords behaving badly corner – racial discrimination and harassment


Our thanks to Doughty Street Chambers for their note on this judgment.

Hickmet and Cheerz Express Limited v Dragos (Luton County Court, 19 January 2024)

Ms Dragos was the assured shorthold tenant of Cheerz Express, with the tenancy beginning 1 June 2017. A depot of £1,100 was paid. The tenancy became a statutory periodic on 1 June 2018. A further fixed term tenancy began on 1 August 2018, then another statutory periodic on 1 August 2019.

A notice seeking possession on grounds 8, 10 and 11 was served in November 2021, and a possession claim was issued in  March 2022. Oddly, this was in the name of Mr Hickmet, who was the sole director of Cheerz Express Ltd, with Cheerz being added to the claim at a later stage. Mr Hickmet maintained up to trial that he had a ‘tenancy by estoppel’. This might be considered an early indicator that things weren’t going to go well for the landlord…

Ms D defended on the basis that

a) the notice seeking possession was invalid

b) a counterclaim for harassment and race discrimination, and

c) a counterclaim under s.214 for failure to protect the deposit.

The harassment and discrimination claim alleged attempts to pressure Ms D into signing a tenancy agreement at a higher rent, attending the property without notice and late at night, pressuring Ms D to leave, threatening to enter the property by force and eject Ms D and her two small children, shouting and swearing at Ms D to pay her rent, and calling Ms D a foreigner who non-one would want to help.

The trial was over three days and the Circuit Judge sat with an Equality Act assessor.

The Court held:

i) The section 8 notice was invalid as the identity of the landlord was unclear. There had been no application to dispense with notice, so the possession claim failed.

ii) Ms D had proved all pleaded allegations. The claimants had directly discriminated against her on the basis of race in breach of s.13 Equality Act and had engaged in unwanted conduct relating to race that created a hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment in breach of s.26 Equality Act. There was also a course of conduct which amounted to harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

iii) The claimants had not protected the deposit or returned it at any point.

iv) The claimants had judgment on rent arrears of £10,495, to be set off against damages on the counterclaim.

On damages, the awards were:

£32,000 for discrimination and harassment

£1,100 for return of the deposit

£8,800 penalty for failure to protect the deposit (being 3x for initial tenancy, 1.5x for the 2018 statutory periodic, 2x for the August 2018 tenancy, and 1.5x for the 2019 statutory periodic. This is an interesting exercise of discretion, apparently putting non-protection at a formal tenancy over non-protection for a statutory periodic arising.)

An additional 10% on damages as Ms D had beaten her Part 36 offer.

5% interest on damages for the period after the Part 36 offer had expired, as per CPR 36.17(4)(a) amounting to £3,444

Total – £49,534

On costs, claimants to pay defendant’s costs. Costs on the counterclaim on the indemnity basis, and with 5% interest as the defendant beat her Part 36 offer.

Both claimants were jointly liable as Mr Hickmet was either acting in his own capacity or as agent for Cheerz Express at all times.


It is good to see a well executed discrimination and harassment counterclaim, and a reminder that a landlord’s bad behaviour can be such as to make a successful counterclaim on a rent arrears possession claim, through harassment and/or discrimination in relation to a protected characteristic.


Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


  1. Radhika Shah

    Great outcome for our client! Radhika Shah at Harrow Law Centre was the instructing solicitor.

    • Giles Peaker

      Well done. Hope enforcement goes smoothly.

  2. Ben Reeve Lewis

    Great result and yet another example of the difference between a civil claim and a prosecution under the woefully unfit PFEA, for which a magistrate would likely have given community service or a fine of a few hundred pounds – one of the reasons for low prosecution rates of local authorities; it costing more to secure the conviction than the fine.


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