What is unlawful eviction?
Section 5 of the Housing Act 1988 provides that an assured tenancy cannot be brought to an end by the landlord except by order of the court and execution of a warrant of possession. As a result of this a landlord must follow the proper legal procedure to evict a tenant. Should a landlord fail to follow the proper procedure and take the tenant’s eviction into their own hands then they could find themselves faced with a claim from the (ex)-tenant for unlawful eviction.
Section 1 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 also makes it a criminal act to unlawfully or illegally evict a tenant.
How can we assist?
At Benchmark Solicitors LLP we can act for you whether you are a landlord or a tenant, and assist you with bringing or defending an unlawful eviction claim.
How can a landlord lawfully evict a tenant?
The landlord must follow a procedure to evict the tenant by serving notice and obtaining a possession order from the court which must be properly executed.
Please see our Tenant Evictions Page for full details.
What happens if I am a landlord faced with an unlawful eviction claim?
As a landlord you must follow the proper procedure to evict a tenant. If you do not follow the possession procedure for example by changing the locks without a possession order or forcibly removing the tenant from the property you could initially find yourself served with an injunction ordering the tenant to be allowed back into the property. The injunction is just a springboard to a legal claim for unlawful eviction against you.
Are there any defences if I have evicted the tenant without following the proper procedure?
The main defence used is that the tenant had voluntarily moved out. Other defences involve the status of the occupier in arguing the persons you have evicted was a squatter or trespasser, and therefore does not have the legal protection from eviction afforded to the tenant. Additionally lodgers are not classed as tenants.
These defences are usually disputed and require a court hearing to decide the status of the occupiers of the rental property.
What are the costs likely to be if I lose?
If you lose the claim, your own legal costs are likely to run to many thousands of pounds, but you will also have to pay the majority if not all of the tenant’s legal costs and their award. As this is the case, we recommend instructing an experienced landlord and tenant solicitor as soon as possible, so that any defence can be considered and a beneficial settlement can be negotiated before all parties’ legal costs increase.
What if I am a tenant and have been unlawfully evicted by my landlord?
If you have been evicted you should consult with experienced landlord and tenant solicitors immediately and should consider the collection of evidence and the possibility of an injunction to allow you to back into the property.
What will the costs of this action be?
The legal costs of pursuing a claim for unlawful eviction are likely to run to many thousands of pounds depending upon whether the matter proceeds to court. We are very happy to consider taking on such actions on a no win no fee basis, however we will ask for a deposit to be paid to us which will be used in the event that matters are settled promptly and no costs are recovered from the landlord.
What can be claimed?
- Statutory Damages – compensation payable to the tenant calculated by the increase in value of the rental property, without the tenant being there
- Special Damages – compensation for losses incurred by the tenant as a result of being evicted such as compensation for losing possession, rehousing costs and increased travelling costs caused by having to relocate
- General Damages – compensation for discomfort, loss of enjoyment, pain and suffering and inconvenience
- Aggravated Damages – compensation for injury to feelings, dignity and pride and are usually sought where the tenant has suffered violence, sexual or racial abuse
- Exemplary Damages – an amount to punish you for unlawfully evicting the tenant and this is usually based upon a daily rate to be determined by the court
- Harassment – a claim for harassment if the former tenant establishes that the landlord has harassed the former tenant
- Loss of Belongings – a claim to recover any goods left at the property or any money made as a result of the landlord selling the former tenant’s goods on
- Injunction – an interim remedy sought by a tenant to allow them back into the property
To arrange an appointment please contact us.