What are the consequences of an unlawful eviction?
Removing a tenant without an order of the Court opens up the possibility for the tenant to claim damages for loss of the property, injury to feelings and harassment.
It is therefore imperative that landlords take the correct steps when removing tenants and that tenants get the correct advice if unlawfully evicted from their homes.
Correct rate for damages
The Court of Appeal spent time assessing how the calculation for damages should be formulated in the matter of Smith v Khan  EWCA Civ 1137.
Particular attention was paid to the calculation of general damages for trespass into the tenant’s property, without following the correct procedure of applying to Court for a possession order.
At first instance, the Judge had found that to assess damages one should look at the current rent of the property that the tenant was excluded from as a cross-check in accordance with the guidance given in Wallace v Manchester City Council  30 HLR 111. However, the Court of Appeal found that using the method by which damages are awarded for disrepair to a tenant’s home, is the incorrect method. Instead, in instances where there has been an unlawful eviction, damages for trespass must compensate the tenant not merely for the letting value of the property that they have been evicted from, but also for anxiety, inconvenience and mental stress involved in the loss of the tenant’s residence. The Court of Appeal found that an award of £130.00 per night was more appropriate than the £40.00 per night the Judge had awarded at first instance.
The Court of Appeal commented that an appropriate range for damages for tenants who have been unlawfully evicted from their homes would be £100.00-£300.00 per night. It is imperative that all the tenant’s inconveniences are listed when assessing what damages should be sought for an unlawful eviction.