BTL landlord ordered to pay compensation to ex-tenant after eviction on bogus grounds

Buy-to-let landlords are being encouraged not to try to deceive departing tenants after tribunal ruling provided a powerful reminder that anyone aggrieved may be watching to ensure that claims are legitimate.

A landmark legal ruling over an eviction is a powerful warning that landlords cannot afford to evict tenants under false pretences, a law firm says.

Lindsays believes that Scotland’s first Wrongful Termination Order should act as a wake-up call for private rental sector landlords not to claim they plan to move into a property when they have no intention of doing so.

And it says the case hammers home the fact that aggrieved former tenants have the power to take action against landlords if they have grounds to believe they have been wrongly evicted.

Paul Harper, a partner in the dispute resolution and litigation team, at Lindsays, said: “Tenants who suspect they have had the wool pulled over their eyes may watch what the landlord does after they recover possession – and start legal action if they see any signs that the intention to move into or sell the property was not genuine.”

The warning comes after Edinburgh landlord Cesar Dominquez-Lopez was ordered to pay compensation to former tenant Jesus Rodriquez-Ortega when a tribunal found he had evicted him on bogus grounds by falsely claiming he intended moving in.

A Scottish Private Residential Tenancy (SPRT) can be terminated on the basis that a landlord intends moving into the let property within three months of the termination.

But if they are found not to have done this, it leaves the door open for a tenant to pursue a wrongful termination case.

In the Edinburgh case, the landlord obtained an eviction order on the basis that he intended renovating the studio flat and moving in with his family but it has been reported that the tribunal heard he did neither and moved a new tenant in less than a month after his previous one left. It ruled that intentions had been fabricated in order to get the tenant out of the property.

Lindsays believes this case emphasises the need for landlords to ensure they have a genuine intention to move into the property, before and after recovering possession. The same applies if a landlord intends to sell.

Harper continued: “At the same time, however, it is permitted for the landlord to change their intentions after they recover possession. If a landlord has genuine reasons for changing their mind, wrongful termination orders cannot be awarded against them.

“But the question of whether there was a genuine change of mind relies again on the landlord’s witness evidence. Accordingly, the tribunal will be the one to make a decision on whether the landlord has misled the tenant or not.

“The safest option, of course, is to follow through with the original intention where possible or else accept there is a risk the tenant might come back seeking a financial award.

“We would advise landlords to heed the warnings from this case so they do not find themselves being pursued in a wrongful eviction claim which could be costly.”

The tribunal awarded the tenant three times the monthly rent, out of the possible six months’ it could have awarded. This decision was based on the amount of rent, whether the tenants were in arrears prior to the termination, whether the landlord had maintained their dishonest position and for how long and the “gravity” of the dishonesty.

Harper added: “These factors are not set out in the SPRT legislation and accordingly this is the first time a tribunal has stated what factors it may consider when making the financial award.

“Interestingly, while the tribunal noted that the tenant had acted wrongfully by ‘trashing’ the let property before leaving, this was not stated to influence the decision. It was based on the landlord’s actions alone.”


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  1. MickRoberts

    Woe betide the Landlord that wants HIS OWN house back.
    As we know, Landlords don’t evict for no reason.
    More rules like this, more Landlords pack up leaving less choice for tenants. Then Govt come attacking Landlords more. And circle keeps revolving.

  2. Will2

    One has to hope the landlord fully recovered his loss for damage caused by the tenant trashing the place or he was able to off set his losses from the criminal bahaviour of his ex tenant. Perhaps the landlord should bring a case of criminal damage against his ex tenant.  

    1. jan - byers

      where does it say the tenant damaged the flat

      1. AcornsRNuts

        You skipped over the last part of the article then, “Interestingly, while the tribunal noted that the tenant had acted wrongfully by ‘trashing’ the let property before leaving”

      2. Will2

        Read the last paragraph. Tenant rightly used the law the landlord should do the same trashing the property is a criminal act.

        1. AcornsRNuts

          “trashing the property is a criminal act.” try telling that to the Police. Tenants can steal furniture, white goods etc and the police do not want to get involved.

  3. Covlets

    It seems obvious that this landlord evicted the tenant for the way they were abusing their property. As it is difficult to evict tenants on discretionary grounds then this was probably the only way they could see of getting their property back. We have had landlords leave the sector in droves over the past few years, who are totally fed up with the system that backs the tenants at every opportunity. Why shouldn’t a landlord be able to get THEIR PROPERTY back if a tenant is not acting in a tenant like manner?

    1. paulgbar666

      Because my dear chap Govt intends to eradicate small LL by whatever means.   It simply doesn’t care about such LL and never will. You are correct about LL leaving. I will be one of them ASAP. The inability to repossess in timely fashion from a feckless rent defaulting tenant makes the PRS pointless. The little LL has no way of combating bonkers anti-LL regulations. As one I readily admit defeat. We are returning to the days of the sitting tenant and eventually rent controls. There is no point in letting on AST terms anymore.   FHL or ST letting remains the only viable way of residential letting. When the CV19 thing is sorted many LL will return to ST letting which will expose the massive reduction in AST rental stock. Unless a LL can guarantee rent will be paid there is no point letting on AST anymore. Guarantors no longer work past the initial FTTP following a recent court case. RGI is impossible for most tenants to qualify for. In short AST letting is now far too risky especially if the LL has a mortgage to service.   I predict the PRS will reduce to 10% of the housing market. Will take about 5 years as it isn’t easy to get out of the PRS. I’ve been trying since 2015!!!    

      1. jan - byers

        Yes the govt wants more property on the market to reduce prices to make them more affordable for FTB

        Being a LL is not a highly skilled profession.

        If you think it is not worth being a LL just get out of it and stop ranting.

        it is easy to get out of when a tenant leaves just sell.

        1. paulgbar666

          Really do you seriously believe that by making more LL properties for sale that prices for those properties will reduce so much to make them affordable for FTB……..seriously!!?   How long have you been in property!?   2 minutes!!?   As for ranting No just a statement of facts as it affects LL. Believe me if possible I would have sold up in 2015. Unique circumstances prevented me from doing so. Those are still existent which is why I’m still stuck being a very successful LL. Believe me I’d love to go. Just not so easy for me to achieve.   You seem to be under the impression that LL prevent FTB from buying because they hold all the properties.   Clearly this is not the case.   There are plenty of properties to buy but FTB either don’t want them or can’t or choose not to afford them.   Introducing more stock doesn’t change these circumstances. Somebody is buying houses as I’ve been looking and they are mostly all Sold STC. LL have NEVER prevented FTB from buying nor have they ever out competed FTB. LL don’t pay retail prices. FTB just can’t afford to buy. Not the LL fault. Money talks. Nobody has the right to own a property. Open market competition is open to all. But I can assure you that without Govt assistance FTB will never afford a house. So the new HTB scheme might just make it affordable for FTB to purchase pre-owned homes. My leaving the PRS won’t make any of my properties affordable for FTB. Just like they weren’t 11 years ago. No demand from FTB so bad that the developer had to sell to the onsite HA at masdive discounts. The Govt war against LL is simply bonkers!        
          Also what relevance is there as to whether being a LL is skilled profession or not.
          How far do you think you would get if you weren’t a skilled LL!?
          You wouldn’t last long I can assure you.
          Being a LL these days requires a great deal of knowledge.
          I consider that being skilled.
          The mere idea that anyone can be a LL is fantasy.
          If as a LL you aren’t on your game you can come an almighty cropper!


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