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Tenant’s Wife Abused by Letting Agents Wins Right to Compensation

Tenants and their loved ones enjoy legal protection against landlords and property professionals who abuse their position of power. In a striking case on point, lawyers representing a woman who was gravely mistreated by a letting agency’s staff won her the right to compensation.

FlatsThe case concerned a flat that had been let to the woman’s husband on a shorthold tenancy. When permission was sought for her to move in with him, the agency stated on instructions from the landlord that no joint tenancy would be granted and that steps would be taken to recover possession of the flat on expiry of the lease. The woman had recently experienced the difficult birth of a child and her husband had fallen behind on the rent before notice to quit was served.

She launched proceedings, claiming that a number of incidents involving the agency’s staff had caused severe injury to her mental health. She relied in particular on a video of an angry encounter between her and a staff member in the flat’s hallway, during which she was threatened with eviction whilst holding her recently born baby in her arms.

In ruling that the woman had been harassed and assaulted, a judge found that the staff member had been quite unnecessarily rude, condescending and insulting. She had threatened to change the locks and repossess the flat, although she must have known that that would require a court order. Her conduct was calculated to alarm a woman who was holding a very young baby and whose home had been entered without permission by a stranger with a key.

In dismissing the agency’s challenge to the judge’s ruling, the High Court agreed wholeheartedly with his assessment of the video. Fresh evidence that the agency sought to put forward could have been obtained before the trial and would in any event probably have made no difference to the outcome. The amount of the woman’s compensation has yet to be assessed.