Pair win thousands from landlord after lockdown ‘eviction’
3 August, 2022 12:00 am
2 Min Read
They were harassed into leaving their home during lockdown so she could sell it By Victoria Munro
Two people have won thousands of pounds of rent back from their former Leytonstone landlord after she harassed them into leaving during lockdown.
Flaviano Sogus and Ralitsa Nicolova lived at a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) in Langthorne Road, owned by landlord Jennifer Bridge, and paid rent on time.
In early 2021, Jennifer decided to sell the house and began pushing them to leave, “threatening to make their stay unpleasant if they did not move out as soon as possible”.
She failed to issue an eviction notice, which the pair discovered was because she hadn’t paid for an HMO licence, meaning any such notice would have been invalid.
At a property tribunal held last month, Judge Shepherd ruled that “instead of taking proper steps and licensing the premises” so she could lawfully evict her tenants, Jennifer “sought to harass [them] to such a degree that they had to leave”.
The tribunal was given a recording of a conversation between the tenants, Jennifer and her partner from February last year, where they agreed to move out but said they would need more time to find a new home.
Judge Shepherd wrote: “The response from Jennifer and her partner was at times patronising, at times bullying and verged on threatening conduct.
“It was clear that [she] and her partner were seeking to lever the [tenants] out of the property at a difficult time during the Covid pandemic.”
The tribunal heard that Jennifer’s partner was “aggressive and physically intimidating” and that they “were constantly accused of not looking for alternative accommodation”.
In her written response, Jennifer admitted she failed to get a licence, explaining: “She knew she needed [one] but just carried on as before out of laziness”.
She also criticised her former tenants for asking for more time to move out, arguing they had already had six months.
The pair left the property in late February last year, having never been served a valid eviction notice. The house was sold the following month for more than £603,000.
On 7th July, Flaviano won more than £6,000 of rent back, while Ralitsa won just over £5,500.
Judge Shepherd added that he hopes this will be a “salutary reminder” to Jennifer Bridge, “who is clearly an experienced landlord” that it is “not appropriate to seek to avoid legal proceedings” when evicting tenants.