Private tenant awarded £4,800 by tribunal after tenancy wrongfully terminated
The First-tier Tribunal for Scotland has granted a wrongful termination order under the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 for payment of £4,800 to a woman who was evicted from an Aberdeen property after being told the property was to be sold.
Linzi Catto, the tenant under a private residential tenancy of landlord Oroma Joe, sought payment of six times her monthly rent of £800. The applicant, who had been a tenant of the property since 2018, argued that Mrs Joe never had a real intention to sell the property and sought to remove her because she could not lawfully increase her rent to the amount she required.
The application was heard by legal member Karen Moore of the Housing and Property Chamber. Both parties appeared in person at the Case Management Discussion at which the decision was made.
Stop gap solution
The respondent began to rent out her property at Wellside Road, Kingswells, after she relocated from Aberdeen for reasons of employment. She had originally sought a monthly rent of £1,000 for the property in order to meet the £918 per month mortgage but accepted an offer of £800 per month from the applicant.
In August 2021, the respondent visited three property agents in Aberdeen with a view to selling the property and served the applicant a Notice to Leave dated 25 August 2021 with an effective date of 25 February 2022. In her original written representations to the Tribunal, she explained that she had marketed the property for rent again as a “stop-gap” solution after the ill health of her son and her own deteriorating health caused her to pause her intention to sell.
At the CMD, the applicant argued that the respondent had never had a real intention to sell the Property and that the Property would likely have been sold at a loss due to the drop in house prices in Aberdeen. Further, there had been no contact from selling agents to value the property during the Notice to Leave period and the property had been marketed for rent again shortly after she vacated it.
Regarding the effect of termination, it was stated that the applicant and her daughter had been unable to find other accommodation in the Kingswells area and had to relocate to another area, causing them distress and inconvenience. The applicant further argued that she would have remained in the property had notice not been given.
No significant attempt
In the Tribunal’s decision, it said of the evidence led before it: “The Tribunal took the view that the only reason the Applicant sought and obtained alternative accommodation was because the Respondent issued the Notice to Leave. The Tribunal took the view that, on the balance of probabilities and on the evidence before it, the Respondent did not intend to sell the Property but intended to re-let it at a higher rent, and did so when the Property became free of the Applicant. Accordingly, the Tribunal intended to make a wrongful termination order.”
Assessing whether the full amount possible under the 2016 Act should be awarded, it said: “The Applicant sought the full amount of six months’ rent in the Application. The Respondent made no comment on the sum sought in her written submissions, which were lengthy and had regard to the fact that she made no significant attempt to market the Property for sale during or after the period of the Notice to Leave.”
The Tribunal, therefore, concluded: “The Tribunal had regard to the distressing effect of the Notice to Leave on the Applicant and her daughter. The Tribunal took the view that, in all the circumstances, and in absence of any evidence to the contrary, that it was reasonable and appropriate to make the order for the sum requested by the Applicant.”