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Bishop Lloyd & Jackson Solicitors Limited

Case Studies

Property Management Company -v- Client

3 min read

Possession proceedings and Counterclaim

In this matter, we acted for the Defendant (tenant). The Claimants referred to in this summary are the landlords.

The Claimant and Defendant entered into an oral agreement in which it was agreed that Defendant and her family would occupy two rooms on the ground floor of the 5-bedroom property. The initial rent agreed was the sum of £500.00 per month. It was agreed that the Defendant would also carry out some work for the Claimant in which she would help with bookings for the additional rooms that had been advertised on Booking.com as the Claimants were renting out the other rooms in the property. The Defendant never occupied the whole of the property, they shared it with various people over a period of time.

The claimants had planned to turn the property into a care home, however, were unable to obtain approval from Newham Council to go through with this and so split the property into two houses instead, the works of which were insufficient to completely separate the properties. For a significant period, the Defendants were having to share the gas and electricity with the neighbouring property until this was separated.

The Defendant’s approached the Claimant to provide proof of residence which she would be able to provide to her daughter’s school. The Claimant agreed to this and therefore drafted a tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement detailed the terms of tenancy including the £500.00 rent, however unknowingly the Defendant signed the agreement not realising that it was her husband named on the tenancy. However, the tenancy agreement was solely for the purpose of providing it to the school but also assisted in regulating the actual practical agreement of the parties.

After 5 years of living at the property, the Claimants started to demand £1800,00 per month for rent from the Defendant’s. Due to the Defendants financial circumstances, they were unable to pay for this and so did not agree. The Defendant did not work and received Universal Credit jointly with her husband.

During this time, the Claimant and their agents started to demand the £1800,00 in rent and would constantly move different tenants in and out of the property. The Defendant consulted with Newham Council in which they confirmed this constituted harassment and that the Claimants should follow the correct legal process and serve a notice.

The Claimants then served a S8 notice to the Defendant which stated that proceedings would be issued against her for not paying the rent and being in over £12,000.00 in rent arrears. They had provided a further signed tenancy agreement which stated the rent was £1800.00 and was signed by the Defendant, however, the Defendant had never seen this agreement. There were also fake receipts prepared by the claimant indicating that in the past they had received £1800 per month from the Defendant, which was false, the Defendants income constraints would not allow for them to be able to pay that level of rent even once. It raised issues of credibility.

The Defendants brought a counterclaim for harassment as they felt threatened and feared their children’s safety when the Claimants and their agents would demand money, continuously showing up at the property without notice.

A one-day trial had been listed for Friday 19th May 2023 to hear the case.

Before the hearing commenced, the Claimant’s counsel proposed a settlement which we negotiated. The trial did not proceed, and a settlement was reached. As our client no longer wanted to be at the property, it was agreed that proceedings would be stayed for 12 months so that the landlords can serve a s21 notice to our client, so they had 2 months to seek help from their local council. It was agreed that so long as no application was made to restore the application the claim and counterclaim will be dismissed. It was also agreed that costs be reserved. If there is no application made to restore, then there will be no order as to costs. During negotiations, the Defendants made it clear that they no longer wanted to remain at the property and wanted to seek assistance from their local council. They were extremely happy with the outcome of their case as they did not have to attend the trial, and they would have sufficient time to move out of the property and seek further assistance from the council.

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