A landlord pair who assaulted one of their tenants while trying to illegally evict her from their unlicensed HMO have been handed a rent repayment order totalling more than £22,300.
Guangyu Chen and Xing Guo argued that their poor English and understanding of the PRS was an excuse for not having a licence for the property in Hulse Avenue, Barking, but a First Tier Property Tribunal ruled that a simple Google search should have revealed the licensing requirements and labelled them “careless”.
Four of the five tenants gave evidence that bailiffs had entered the house in August 2021, helped by the landlords, and removed the lock.
Physically assaulted They went into one of the tenant’s rooms without permission, removed her possessions and physically assaulted her, the Tribunal heard.
Later that month, they wrote to three tenants purporting to give them notice after finding out about the HMO licensing requirements, but this was not a lawful notice.
Chen and Guo said they were not aware of the notice requirements prior to evicting the tenants and relied on their former solicitors, Ennon & Co, for advice.
The tribunal judge said if it had been dealing with the licensing offences only, it would have awarded 50% of the rent, less deductions for the rent repayment order.
“However, the attempted unlawful evictions, lack of proper notice and the assault on one of the applicants raises the level of seriousness significantly,” he explained.
Taking these factors into account, it made the amount of the rent repayment order for three tenants to be 90% of the net rent paid and for the tenant who had been a victim of assault, 100% of the rent paid.
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