Taking action against a rogue landlord

Published: by Erin Wolson

Tom’s landlord was exploiting and abusing his vulnerable tenants. Tom, with Shelter’s help, took legal action. 

‘In December 2016, I moved into a new place. It was the kind of house that people move into when they’re desperate, the landlord knew it and he took advantage.  

The oven was leaking gas when I moved in. The landlord had blocked off the boiler so the tenants couldn’t turn on the heating and the shower had rotten floorboards under it; you could feel yourself wobbling as you washed your hair. The first time I questioned him – just asking why he hadn’t sorted anything out – he handed me my notice. I heard from another housemate that he would let me stay if I apologised, so I had to grit my teeth and say I was sorry.  

The way the landlord acted also didn’t seem right. He’d let himself into the house once or twice a day, often early in the morning, and just hang around for hours. I suffer from depression and anxiety, and his behavior multiplied and enhanced it.  

At Easter, I went to visit my parents. I got a message that the landlord had let himself into my room, taken my stuff away and put it in the garden shed. I went straight to the house with my dad and found that the locks had been changed. Luckily, another tenant let us in, but my room was bare and other tenants were painting it. The landlord had forced them to do it, telling them they would be evicted if they refused.  

The next day, Dad and I went to Shelter. Ann and Cathy, the advisers at the Devon Hub, were very supportive. We went to court in April, and the judge gave the landlord 48 hours to let me back into the property. He refused, even after Shelter emailed him requesting compliance. He sent me abusive emails about my mental health, and when I went to the house – on the same day council worker came to do a health and safety assessment – he got really aggressive.  

In July, we went back to court and I was awarded compensation. If I can get the money, I’ll be able to move out and pay a deposit on somewhere new. Shelter were brilliant, I couldn’t fault them at all. Without them I would have lost my home and my landlord would have got away with his behaviour. I never did this for the money, I did it for justice. My landlord needs to stop what he is doing – or be stopped.’