Landlord and Tenant Update
A court has recently considered threats made by landlord to evict their tenant. The case comes as a warning to Landlords to be very careful in how they communicate with tenants as such activity can constitute harassment.
In order to succeed in a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997:
(1) There must be conduct which occurs on at least two occasions,
(2) which is targeted at the claimant,
(3) which is calculated in an objective sense to cause alarm or distress, and
(4) which is objectively judged to be oppressive and unacceptable.
"Harassment" is not defined in the Act, though section 7(2) states that it "includes alarming the person or causing the person distress".
In Metropolitan Housing Trust Ltd v Worthington  EWCA Civ 1125, the Court of Appeal considered an appeal by the housing association to a finding that threats made in correspondence amounted to harassment.
In this case, CCTV had been installed to prevent anti-social behaviour and the Defendant Mr Worthington formed a residents group. Residents complained on the basis that it caused a nuisance and invaded other residents’ privacy. A number of letters were sent threatening injunctions and then possession proceedings. The court concluded after hearing the evidence that the claimants had been harassed.
The matter proceeded to appeal where the decision of the court at first instance was upheld. It was noted that the properties were the claimants’ homes and that they were tenants rather than owners, so it would have been particularly distressing for them to be threatened with possession proceedings.
The case is an interesting example of conduct in a landlord and tenant context which will cross the line and make threats of eviction by a landlord actionable.
Our Liam Connolly is a specialist dispute resolution solicitor and can advise on all landlord and tenant matters.