Here is a question to the Blog Clinic from Amir (not his real name) who is a landlord:
I have a tenant who is suing me for the following:
Harassment, assault, intimidation, fraudulent misrepresentation,libel and all breaches of the covenants implied into the tenancy agreement between 30th Jan and 20th Feb 2013.
The tenant wants £6000 for damages.
His solicitor has cited Khan v Aqbal and Addison v Croft to justify the amount they want. I don’t have that money and have offered £800 and him to move out within a month.
He has not accepted this. My solicitor has advised because of his solicitor’s costs and any compensation if he did win, would be more then £6000 – that I should pay out – I don’t agree.
Relationship was fine until he started regularly paying rent late and withholding rent. I issued him a section 21 and then he stated he wanted to sue me. Below are the main points:
- I have verbally sent him rude text messages calling him a tramp, liar and mentally ill (he cursed me and my son so I retaliated). I DID
- I sent local councils an email and cc’d him in saying do not house this man as he is a conman and a liar and owes me over £900 (this was due to him owing me and still owing me over £900 in rent). I DID.
- He claims I turned his water supply off – which I DID NOT.
- KEY POINT – He claims my managing agent and another person physically assaulted him and broke his front door – the police investigated it, interviewed me and all involved and found there was no case to be answered. He appealed this and went up higher in the police force and again the police said there was no case to be answered due to insufficient evidence.
He claims benefits, still lives at the property, and the rent is still paid directly to me by the council.
- If I did lose in court how much would I roughly be looking at paying out?
- I don’t have money for a solicitor – can I get a solicitor to represent me on a day fee?
- I don’t have more than £1000 so if I did lose could I pay over several months or can they put a charge on any of the several properties I own? (there is no equity in any of them).
- He has legal aid and I have found out that he has two companies registered to the address which he is the director of – can he have legal aid if he is a company director even though there might not be any money in the company?
- Are there any cases similar to mine where there is just harassment and no illegal eviction to site please with smaller payouts?
I don’t have any personal experience in running this type of claim but here are some comments on your questions:
1. Likley damages
I have had a quick look at some reports of the two cases you refer to:
Khan v Aqbal  – (reported on Nearly Legal) this is an unlawful eviction case where (leaving aside the award for the unlawful eviction itself – £10,200 or £100 per night) the court awarded £2,000 for the harassment, aggravated damages of £200, exemplary damages of £3000 and special damages of £2338.32. However some of those damages will be on account of the unlawful eviction element.
Addison v Croft  – (reported in Legal Action) – this is another unlawful eviction claim where the claimant was awarded £3,000 for the actual unlawful eviction, £1,000 because of the manner the eviction took place and £1,000 exemplary damages
As you have not actually evicted this claimant and he is still living at the property and owing you rent, I would be surprised if the damages came to £6,000 unless there is something we don’t know.
If any one has any recent experience in awards for this sort of claim, please can you leave a comment below.
2. Employing a solicitor for the day
There is not much good having a solicitor just pitch up on the day without having read the papers, spoken to you about your evidence and done research on the relevant legal precedents etc.
So it is never going to be just how much do they charge for the day. They will have to do quite a lot of work in advance.
The thing to do with this case, I would have thought, is to get it settled and never reach the trial stage in the first place. You will be better able to do this with a solicitors firm helping you.
3. Options for payment if you lose
You have admitted some of the claims so it looks as if you may be ordered to pay something.
Note by the way – as regards the assault charge, that it is easier to get a result in the civil courts as the standard of proof is lower (‘on the balance of probabilities’ as opposed to the criminal courts standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’).
So don’t assume that he won’t get a favourable decision (if there is anything in this claim) just because the Police did not have enough evidence to proceed.
You can certainly ask the court for an instalment order. Whether they make one or not will depend on whether they think you will be able to afford the instalments.
Getting a charge over property is one of the enforcement procedures available to Judgement Creditors. This just registers a charge against the property – getting an order for sale will need to be done separately afterwards.
If I were advising the claimant this is something I would be looking to do if you did not pay. After all, even though there is no equity now, there may well be in the future if property prices rise.
4.The claimants right to legal aid
It is a very long time since I did any legal aid work so I am not familiar with the rules on financial eligibility. Hopefully someone will be able to tell us in the comments.
However I suspect that one of your best options is to see if you can get his legal aid removed. So write to his solicitors or to the legal aid board direct, pointing out:
- That he is a company director and also that
- That you do not have any assets to satisfy any claim
The Legal Aid Board (or whatever the relevant organisation is called nowadays) will be looking to reclaim the costs they have paid out from the money recovered from you – so if this is unlikely they may consider discontinuing the legal aid.
The solicitors will need to go back to them from time to time to get extensions to allow them to do more work. So even though he has legal aid now, it is not a given that this will continue or that they will approve the heavy costs of trial.
5. SImilar cases
I am not aware of any, although I am sure there must be – do any readers know of any relevant case law?