Advice on harassment situation please

by Readers Question

8:59 AM, 3rd September 2015
About 3 years ago

Advice on harassment situation please

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Advice on harassment situation please

I am writing to see if anyone can advise on a very sad case. A lady I know, a Colombian immigrant with her husband and 11 year old son, have been living for a few years in a self-contained 3 bedroom flat in Haringey. (another tenant upstairs). harassment

They had an AST renewed every 6 months. The landlord sold the property and the new landlord decided he wants to convert it into an HMO. Without discussion he entered the flat, took out their fridge and replaced it with a small very dirty fridge, which he put in their bedroom. He came in and removed the dining table as he wanted the room for someone else.

He then brought another couple in and said they had to share the bathroom. Since then he has had the builders in removing doors, creating extra rooms etc. He moved their son (who has asthma) into a small room (with no ventilation), allocated just one room to them as bedroom / dining room (with no table). When they complained he told them he had an HMO licence and that these were workers from the council. Etc etc.

We advised her to go to Haringey Council who were less than helpful and said as she had a private tenancy there was nothing she could do and if she didn’t like it she should leave. They were not at all interested in the harassment.

We have tried to advise her on the very clear law against tenant harassment, but as she is an immigrant (legal), and does not speak the language very well, she and her family are terrified as to what the Landlord might do. (she also has not been told if the original deposit has been registered – but that’s for later).

The obvious move would be to go to a solicitor, get an injunction etc, and claim compensation for the nightmare they have been put through, but she is a cleaner and therefore has very little money, and cannot seem to find any solicitors who would take up her case under legal aid. Can anyone advise?

Does anyone know any organisations in the Haringey area who could protect and help her? It is such a blatant case of harassment it would be a shame for them if they end up on the street, and a great shame if he was not brought to book.

Thanks for any advice
David



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:01 AM, 3rd September 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi David,

Have you spoken with the charity Shelter as this is the sort of situation they are there for?

Ian Narbeth

11:13 AM, 3rd September 2015
About 3 years ago

She could also try Citizens Advice Bureau.

Paul Franklin

14:25 PM, 3rd September 2015
About 3 years ago

I would advise you to go back to the council, perhaps try writing to them if you don't get anywhere. Get the names and job titles of the people you are talking to and ask to speak to supervisors etc as what you have been told is simply incorrect if this is indeed what you have been told. I've just checked their website and Harringey even have a leaflet about it:
http://www.haringey.gov.uk/sites/haringeygovuk/files/harassment_and_illegal_eviction_leaflet.pdf
The council should investigate cases of unlawful eviction and harassment. This sounds like both as the landlord has denied the tenant of a part of the premises, unlawful eviction doesn't neccesarily be eviction from the whole premises.

You don't necessarrily need a solicitor to get an injunction, although there is a court fee. There is a harringey law centre, details are on the back page of the leaflet, I suggest you get in contact with them.

You may also want to speak to the HMO licencing team at the council. The chances are that a landlord like this may not have obtained a licence if indeed he does indeed need one. Every council now has different rules around which properties require a licence.

H B

8:19 AM, 4th September 2015
About 3 years ago

She should change the locks immediately to prevent future unauthorised access. It is slum landlords like this that give real landlords a bad name

8:44 AM, 4th September 2015
About 3 years ago

I have just read this and if this all can be proved I would be happy to help this tenant on a Pro Bono basis. - check my profile to make contact..

Gary Dully

9:47 AM, 4th September 2015
About 3 years ago

It must be terrifying enough for anyone with a lousy landlord and despite everything else, the tenant is entitled to protection.

If its already gone 'nuclear', then the prevention from eviction act 1977 is on the tenants side.
This should be reported to the council, they have a legal duty to investigate and if necessary prosecute under the statute that they look after.

In addition, harassment, and Unlawful Eviction is a Criminal Offence under the prevention from Eviction Act 1977, which should in theory be a Police matter.

The penalties for unlawful eviction etc are horrendous for a landlord, it won't be for a few pounds it could run into the tens of thousands.
The penalties for the Police not taking action aren't exactly pleasant either, if they turn out the usual "it's a Civil Matter" , ask to speak to an inspector to explain its a "Criminal Matter", if still no joy, then lodge a complaint about the inspector, who will soon be demoted to a part time traffic warden, when his bosses face a fine of 50k + from a judge.
It wouldn't be the first time a chief constable has had to fork out for damages for not dealing with the matter correctly.
The tenant, if threatened by the landlord, should simply report it again to the Police at which point, they have to act or the courts would show no mercy to them or the landlord.
If it hasn't gone 'nuclear' yet and the landlord has enough sense to listen...
The landlord should be told, in writing, to only contact the tenant by post or through a solicitor or appointed agent. If they refuse, report them for harassment. It's usually up to the landlord to prove they are not harassing a tenant.
If the landlord still doesn't listen and gets nasty,it's a Police matter.

I am sick of having to hear stories of landlords flouting the law. They have caused our industry untold damage and our public sympathy is at an all time low because of this idiotic fool and their criminal behaviour.


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