A Glasgow tenant has been awarded £18,000 in damages in a landmark case after being unlawfully evicted from his flat in 2015.
In September 2018, Dambaru Baral opened a case against his landlords Mohammed and Khalda Arif, after their representatives had entered the property, removed Mr Baral’s belongings and changed the locks while he was away. The tenant had allegedly been in rent arrears, with the exact amount disputed by both parties.
Landlord Mr Arif claimed to have a verbal agreement from Mr Baral to vacate the property in November 2015, but neither party had taken any steps to formalise the end of the tenancy.
Mr Arif claimed he had reason to believe the tenant had ceased to occupy the property and therefore had taken possession of it without a court order.
The tribunal rejected this, saying that as Mr Arif and an associate Mr Bhatti had gone into the flat and filled boxes with Mr Baral’s belongings, the sheer volume of those belongings at the property did not indicate he had left.
The Tribunal also took the view it “seemed inherently unlikely” that the tenant had previously agreed to leave the property, “given that he had nowhere else to go.” It was accepted at the hearing that Mr Baral had sought advice from the police as to whether he could be evicted without a court order and that he advised Mr Arif he wouldn’t leave without an order being obtained.
“Even if there had been some prior suggestion that he would leave, that conversation ought to have made it clear, to Mr Arif, that the applicant had not agreed to cease occupation,” concluded the Tribunal.
As an unlawful eviction had taken place, the tribunal awarded the tenant £18,000 in statutory damages based on reports from surveyors.