Mr. S. had lived in his home for 5 years and suffered from depression and anxiety. A high level of arrears had accumulated on his rent account because he struggled to manage his Universal Credit account. Mr S’s landlord issued possession proceedings.
Mr S’s home suffered a lot of repairs, including a cracked sink in the bathroom, damp and mould throughout the property and defective windows.
Mr S filed a defence disputing the arrears and a counterclaim for repairs which had not been carried out by the landlord in the property. After obtaining a report from a surveyor, the landlord accepted that works were required to Mr S’s home and agreed to settle it’s claim and the counterclaim.
A payment of £7,800 was made to Mr S in settlement of his counterclaim. This sum was used to set off arrears of £5414.00. The possession claim was dismissed. The landlord also agreed to carry out the repairs and pay Mr S’s legal costs.
Mr. TT was first advised by Cambridge House Law Centre at the Court duty desk.
Mr. TT was an assured tenant of a social landlord. At the time Mr TT had £9,500 in rent arrears and the landlord was bringing possession proceedings under Grounds 10 and 11 Schedule 2 Housing Act 1988.
Although the arears were so high, the Judge was convinced that that there was significant disrepair at Mr TT’s property and any damages awarded would assist in a set off towards the rent arrears. This in turn would significantly reduce the alleged rent arrears. The Court provided directions and Mr TT instructed Cambridge House Law Centre to continue advising him.
A Surveyor was instructed who found that Mr TT’s property suffered from significant water penetration which in turn had caused significant damage to the property. Mr TT also provided emails of complaints from his support worker which had been sent to the landlord concerning the significant disrepair at the property. A Defence & Counterclaim was filed and served followed by detailed witness statements.
The landlord refused to disclose all the repair logs and repair sheets. Mr T.T filed a successful application for specific disclosure. The landlord’s claim was eventually struck out for not paying the listing fee. It subsequently filed an application for their claim to be restored which was opposed by Mr T.T.
The parties then negotiated settlement. It was agreed that the possession claim be restored so it could be dismissed. The landlord agreed to pay £10,000 in damages to be offset first against the alleged rent arrears. The remainder was paid to Mr TT as damages in full and final settlement of his counterclaim. The landlord also agreed to carry out the repairs and pay Mr T.T’s legal costs.
Ms P was a secure tenant who had no gas heating and functioning gas boiler since 2008. There were also other significant repairs at the property which were not remedied within a reasonable time by the claimant. The property suffered from damp and mould for many years.
The landlord brought possession proceedings for rent arrears were of approximately £1200. Ms P was in receipt of housing benefit from the council but this was suspended as soon as Ms P obtained a zero-hour contract for her entitlement to be reassessed.
The landlord pleaded that some of the repairs were attributed to Ms P’s failure to maintain an ivy tree in the premises.
After reviewing the disrepair files and repair logs, it was noted that the ivy tree was out of control when the tenancy commenced.
Ms P had never been advised how to maintain the tree and accepted that she had not reported the overgrown ivy tree to the landlord since the tenancy commenced. Ms P’s neighbour had reported/complained to the landlord. There was therefore a possibility that the landlord could be held responsible for repairs caused by the ivy tree.
The landlord was aware of the other disrepair issues at the property which it had not remedied in the past. The yearly gas safety certificate records showed that the gas inspection had failed each year.
Ms P defended the possession claim and filed a counterclaim for damages, and for the repairs to be carried out and for payment of her legal costs.
The landlord offered £10,000 as damages in full and final settlement of Ms P’s counterclaim. This sum was set off against her rent arrears and the possession claim was dismissed. The landlord also paid the legal costs for the claim and the counterclaim.
Mrs P was a secure tenant of the Landlord.
In January 2018, the landlord issued possession proceedings for rent arrears and for breach of the tenancy conditions. The property was raided by police who found the property full of Cannabis plants and apparatus.
Mrs P defended the claim and also filed a counterclaim for repairs which the landlord had failed to carry out.
Upon receipt of the defence and counterclaim, the landlord advised that it would be discontinuing the possession proceedings and enquired as to whether it was Mrs P’s intention to proceed with the Counterclaim giving no indication as to their reasons for the same. The landlord subsequently served the Notice of Discontinuance upon Mrs P on 27 March 2018, together with a Defence to the Counterclaim.
Mrs P responded by stating that she was willing to settle the counterclaim for a damages payment equivalent to the arrears on the rent account; for works to be carried out; and payment of her legal costs.
The landlord inspected the property and wrote advising that the claim for disrepair at the property was unfounded. It also stated that fresh proceedings would be issued.
Cambridge House Law Centre contacted the Court by telephone and by letter for directions on the counterclaim. A stay of the counterclaim was requested and granted by the Court. This was so that it could be joined to any new proceedings which the landlord may issue.
A bill was served on the landlord for the costs of the claim following its discontinuance of the possession proceedings.
In response the Landlord filed the following applications:
1) An application to issue a second claim against Mrs P founded on the same basis as the discontinued claim.
2) An application to set aside the stay of the counterclaim and summary costs of the application.
3) An application for the counterclaim to be struck out and costs awarded to the landlord.
4) An application seeking a determination that the proceedings were not concluded and that Mrs P was not entitled to commence detailed assessment proceedings; an Order that the Notice of Commencement dated 13 November 2018 be set aside and that Mrs P pay the Landlord’s wasted costs of making the application.
5) An appeal of the stay of the counterclaim.
The Court dismissed the first application on the basis that there was no good reason to grant permission to issue such a claim. The Landlord sought to argue that there was good reason to grant permission because (1) the nature and seriousness of the cannabis production required such claims to be pursued and (2) the Landlord had allegedly been given legal advice that the notice relied on in original proceedings was technically deficient and the appropriate route to remedy the same was to discontinue and re-issue. The Court held that these matters did not amount to good reasons.
The Court dismissed the second and third applications because the order made to stay the counterclaim was entirely proper. The Landlord was not willing to indicate whether or not further proceedings would be issued against Mrs P.
The Court considered the 4th Application and this was also dismissed by the Court.
The landlord did not pursue its appeal of the stay of the counterclaim.
Mrs P was granted her costs of opposing all of the Landlord’s applications.
All of the above client’s qualified for Legal Aid assistance, contact us today to find out if we can assist you with Legal Aid funding.