Case 020 - Bullying of Landlord by Tenant
As a sitting (protected) tenant, who has lived in my flat since 1983, I have been subjected to bullying from my landlord since late 1997. My landlord inherited my address during March 1997 and at first he seemed OK and made it clear to all tenants that there would be a substantial upgrading to the property to begin in late 1997. His plan was to do the house up into five self-contained units.
The bullying first started after my kitchen ceiling collapsed. My landlord carried out the repairs reasonably promptly but seemed unwilling to mend the damaged kitchen sink. After I insisted that he did repair it he later sent me a letter accusing me of sub-letting my flat out to a person who was drunk and disorderly. This was the first of a whole catalogue of abuses. During this time I was very friendly with my neighbouring tenant who as later corrupted by my landlord by his offer of money - and I was later to find out why. The payoff was to write a stinking five sided letter falsely accusing me of all kinds of abuses, but specifically stating that I had insisted on having a key to her flat as part of her tenancy agreement. The builders, who began the re-structuring works in late 1998, a year later than expected, were also enlisted to stitch me up by saying that I had refused them legitimate access to my own flat to carry out essential repairs which they hadn't even attempted to do.
Other abuses I suffered are too numerous to mention but include the following:
- refusing to acknowledge letters about the repair works and other matters
- failing to communicate effectively about building plans and access demands
- accusing me of not paying the rent
- not paying me back money for works which he was responsible for paying
- turning off my utilities for unreasonable periods of time
- accusing me of having a past history of harassing tenants
- accusing me of constant rudeness to the landlord and his wife
- petty psychological game-playing
- writing to council officials accusing me of damaging property
- trying to undermine my relationships with current tenants by playing us off against each other
- not carrying out essential environmental health notice work whilst accusing me of denying access to have these works carried out
- threatening me with defamation action if I whistleblow to his university about his conduct
Last year my experiences culminated in a civil action my landlord took against me in June last year for non-payment of rent, harassment of tenants and not allowing legitimate access to builders. He got his sister and wife to write phoney witness statements to back up his even phonier allegations. He ensured that the case was strung out as long as possible - a whole year, in fact, peppered with spurious arguments and counter-arguments about trivial matters. The entire action cost me over £17,000 to defend (unfortunately, I wasn't eligible for legal assistance). The whole point for him was not to get justice but to undermine me financially to the point where I would not think it was financially worthwhile to keep my tenancy. It failed.
In June of this year he finally realised that he had an unwinnable case. He settled out of court and I received £10,500 in costs and damages from him (the only reason I didn't get all my money back was because the indemnity rule in these types of cases no longer applies). In total the action would have cost him about £27,000 (assuming that his costs were comparable to mine). Now I am still in my flat, I have my own fixtures and fittings (something he tried to deny me despite this arrangement already being in place via my previous landlord) and he is now bound my a consent order setting out my rights more clearly and which ensures that he contacts me by email.
Unfortunately, the bullying hasn't stopped and now I am thinking of going to my MP to whistleblow on him to his university (he's a professor) which I know has a strong code of staff ethics regarding conduct both inside and outside the organisation. It's the only route I can take to ensure that I have unqualified privilege in the event of an investigation being carried out. Apart from what he has done to me, I already suspect that he has misused university resources by getting someone to send me a computer virus via his own university email address (something my landlord later claimed was an accidental infiltration by a student).