Logo

Supreme Court victory for unlawfully evicted tenant

The Supreme Court today (3 December 2014) handed down judgment in the case
of Loveridge v Lambeth [2014] UKSC 65, restoring the award of damages made
by the County Court to a council tenant who was unlawfully evicted from his
property. Hopkin Murray Beskine acted for the successful tenant in the
Supreme Court.

Mr Loveridge was a secure tenant of a flat owned by the London Borough of
Lambeth. In 2009 he was temporarily away but continued to pay his rent by
standing order. While he was away, the council forced entry to the property
and took possession. They should have obtained a court order, but they did
not. Without a court order, the eviction was not lawful.

Mr Loveridge returned to his home to find that the locks had been changed
and he could not get entry to his property. He also discovered that all his
possessions had been removed and destroyed by the council.

Mr Loveridge then brought a claim in the County Court for compensation for
his unlawful eviction and the loss of his belongings. His claim included a
claim for statutory damages: compensation calculated on the basis of
expert valuation evidence under provisions in s27 and s28 Housing Act 1988.

The council defended the claim on a number of grounds. They claimed that Mr
Loveridge no longer had a secure tenancy at the time he was evicted, that
statutory damages should not be awarded as they had had reasonable cause to
believe that Mr Loveridge had ceased to reside at the property, and that if
statutory damages were awarded they should be assessed in a way which meant
no damages were payable.

The trial took place in 2012 and the County Court rejected all the
council’s defences. The judge found that after forcing entry, the council
did not have reasonable cause to believe that Mr Loveridge had ceased to
live at the property. He awarded Mr Loveridge the sum of £99,500, including
statutory damages.

The council appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal. By this time
they had conceded that Mr Loveridge had been evicted unlawfully while a
secure tenant, but their appeal concerned the way in which statutory
damages should be calculated when a secure tenant is evicted. The Court of
Appeal agreed with the council and held that statutory damages should not
be awarded, meaning the compensation award was replaced with an award of
£16,400.

Mr Loveridge appealed to the Supreme Court. In their unanimous judgment
today, the Supreme Court agreed that the approach originally taken by the
County Court was the correct one and the higher award of damages should be
restored.

The decision has important implications for the rights of secure tenants.
Had the Court of Appeal’s decision been allowed to stand, statutory damages
would in practice have been unavailable in cases where secure tenants are
evicted. Instead, the judgment means that local authorities, like any other
landlord, will face financial consequences if they fail to comply with the
law which protects their tenants from eviction.

Ann Bevington of Hopkin Murray Beskine, the solicitor who has acted for Mr
Loveridge at all stages of the proceedings, said today:
“This lengthy litigation, which ended with victory for my client in the
Supreme Court, was necessary because of Lambeth Council’s unlawful actions
which deprived my client of his home and his possessions. It is to be hoped
that this judgment will encourage local authorities to review their
practices and procedures to ensure that in future, other tenants are not
put through a similar experience”.

The judgment can be found here

Published On: December 3, 2014|

Latest news

Meet the directors

Go to Top