Unlawful eviction - how much could your tenant claim in damages?

The case of Loveridge v Lambeth Borough Council (LBC) was heard by the Supreme Court. Here the tenant  appealed against a decision of the Court of Appeal relating to the proper construction of s.28 of the Housing Act 1988, which set out how damages were to be calculated where a residential occupier has been unlawfully evicted.

Mr Loveridge, who held a secured tenancy, relocated to Ghana for 5 months in breach of the terms of his tenancy agreement and was subsequently unlawfully evicted from the property by LBC. The court was to consider the amount of damages payable to the tenant on the basis of whether, at the time of eviction, the tenancies within the premises were secure tenancies, or assured tenancies and thus the value at which they could be resold.

The Supreme Court held in favour of the tenant, claiming that where the occupier has some form of security of tenure, the difference in value between the premises subject to that degree of security, and the premises without it, will represent the amount of damages payable to the evictee.

This in theory means that any tenant who is unlawfully evicted can expect large damages awards regardless of whether or not the landlord would stand to make any profit from the process, as the sum would be calculated in accordance with the notional gain of the landlord, as opposed to the actual loss suffered by the evictee.

In their judgement, Lord Wilson and Lord Neuburger strongly urged parliament to reconsider the legislation so as to avoid arbitrary pay-outs such as these.

The ruling in Loveridge v LBC will no doubt make any landlord think twice about unlawfully evicting a tenant.

This article was written by Georgina Wade.

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