A recent case, Smith v Khan, where a landlord unlawfully evicted the wife of a tenant, serves as a reminder to take care, as individuals who are not tenants can acquire rights of occupation, says Lauren McQue.
In the case of Smith v Khan, although Mrs Smith was not a tenant, it was held she had a right to occupy the property simply by being married to the tenant, Mr Smith, who had absconded during the fixed term. The Court found that Mr Smith's landlord had unlawfully evicted her by re-entering the property and changing the locks, preventing her from gaining further access.
The landlord was ordered to pay Mrs Smith general damages for trespass in the sum of £9,880. The Court held that damages should be calculated at the daily rate of £130 from the date of the unlawful eviction until the expiry date of the fixed term.
This case is a stark reminder to residential landlords to take caution when evicting tenants or any other individual who may have acquired rights of occupation. Failing to follow the correct procedure could result in very serious consequences, including a fairly significant claim for damages.