A MAN from Barry claims he is victim of a “retaliatory eviction” that nearly left him homeless - and £1,000 out of pocket.

Shelter Cymru describes retaliatory evictions as “Revenge evictions when a landlord gives a ‘no fault’ eviction notice to a contract-holder who asks for repairs or complains about bad housing conditions.”

Ben Lawrence, 45, originally from Dinas Powys, settled in Barry with his partner Zoe and two children in one of the Victorian terraces of Cambridge Street – or at least he thought he had.

The tenancy, which began in 2020 and involved Mr Lawrence putting down almost £1,000 in deposit fees, as well as the £850 a month rent, started off well enough – with the landlady even leaving the family a bottle of wine when they entered.

However things turned sour, with Mr Lawrence notifying the estate agents – Ninas Estate Agents, on Barry’s Broad Street, about damp issues in the flat that were never properly sorted, according to Mr Lawrence.

It got to the point Mr Lawrence, who is a building surveyor by trade, wanted to contact the landlady directly to say she was paying for repairs that weren’t apparently working.

Eventually, at the end of 2022, Mr Lawrence and his family were given notice to leave the premise within two months, in what he believes was a retaliatory eviction.

Mr Lawrence described it as a “kick in the teeth” when he got the news, saying he and his partner had only just got back on their feet after losing work during the pandemic, and with the kids, nine and 15, going through exams at the time.

“I lost my business through Covid and we were trying to get ourselves back on our feet,” said Mr Lawrence. “It was just a kick in the teeth. We were trying to be respectable to the landlady.”

Barry And District News:

Mr Lawrence and his partner Zoe have been charged £3,000 in repairs say it was a kick in the teeth. Photo Ben Lawrence

Adjudication with Tenancy Deposit Scheme for thousands of pounds

Now there’s an even deeper twist in the tale, with the landlady and agency managing the property demanding £3,000 in repairs, which has gone into adjudication with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

It means Mr Lawrence is out of pocket £980 (his deposit layout) until the adjudication finishes – estimated to be sometime in the next few weeks.

Mr Lawrence said that money was vital for him to find a new home.

Ninas Estate agents has commented on the case saying aspects are incorrect.

Nina Shivers, director at Ninas, said: “We work on behalf of the landlord who gives us our instructions and this tenancy was instructed via the Landlord for us to provide notice to be given to the tenants.

“Other aspects mentioned are incorrect and I would suggest Mr Lawrence put his concerns in writing to us so we can clarify the situation.

“This case is in the hands of TDS who are a dispute service, they aim to facilitate a satisfactory resolution between landlords and tenants.

“They will look at each individual case put forward to them and make an informed decision. The aim is to secure a mutually acceptable agreement between landlord and tenant.”

Mr Lawrence and family did eventually find accommodation, finding a new place through Mr Lawrence's contacts, with him and his family able to stay in their new home for 18 months.

Barry And District News:

The house on Cambridge Street overseen by Ninas Estate Agents

Shelter Cymru advice on retaliatory evictions

Shelter Cymru say a retaliatory or revenge eviction is when a landlord gives a ‘no fault’ eviction notice to a contract-holder who asks for repairs or complains about bad housing conditions. 

The charity say a landlord might decide to use a ‘no fault’ notice to avoid carrying out repairs or making your home fit to live in. This type of notice can be given even when you have not breached your occupation contract. 

Landlords do not have to prove a legal reason to the court if they make a possession claim following a ‘no fault’ notice. This means that the court usually has to grant a possession order as long as your landlord followed the correct procedure.

However, the court can dismiss the possession claim if the landlord is evicting you to avoid carrying out repairs or making your home fit to live in.

Who is at risk of retaliatory eviction?

  • a fixed term standard contract with a landlord’s break clause
  • a periodic standard contract that allows a ‘no fault’ (section 173) notice to be given
  • an introductory standard contract
  • a prohibited conduct standard contract
  • a supported standard contract
  • any other type of standard contract with a community landlord

Find out more at sheltercymru.org.uk.