A first-year law student who sued his landlord for breach of contract after claiming the halls he was due to move into weren’t fit to live in does not set a new precedent, a leading property lawyer has said, but is a wake-up call.

Jack Simm, 19, an undergraduate at the University of East Anglia, labelled the Norwich flat a ‘construction site’ and spent a year fighting the case, referring to statutes and case law that he’d learnt in his studies to build a 10-page legal claim.

He argued that his landlord was in breach of contract as there was no heating or wi-fi, dust everywhere and builders were still working in the accommodation when he moved in, in September 2020.

The undergraduate, from Newcastle, told Mail Online: “We gave the landlord a week to sort everything out and at the end, nothing had been resolved so I moved out and handed my keys in.”

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Velocity Student accommodation was developed by the Freedman Project LLP and managed by Estateducation, which is also a landlord. The site is near to the campus developed on the site of a defunct pub.

Newcastle County Court ruled in Simm’s favour and ordered Freedman to pay £859 to cover his deposit and first month’s rent as well as £140 costs.

David Smith (pictured), property solicitor at JMW, tells LandlordZONE that this case is an exception rather than the rule and doesn’t expect it to prompt similar cases.

A lack of money, time or inclination are usually the reasons why tenants don’t sue their landlords, but Smith adds that this should serve as a warning for landlords that they need to fulfil their obligations and make sure a property is ready when a tenant moves in.

He adds: “The university housing service usually deals with cases like these and will come to a monetary agreement. Tenants are within their rights to walk away from a tenancy – but some don’t have that luxury.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. The lad’s had his 15 minutes of fame, now we can move on.

    There doesn’t need to be a “wake up call” nor “warning”.

    It is COMMON SENSE to supply what you have contracted to provide and to do everything possible should something go wrong – if the LL fails to do so, hit him/her with as much penalty as possible (this award doesn’t do that which suggests the issue wasn’t that bad).

    Though its good to see a larger Landlord get a wrist slap – it might start to show large scale investors that this market isn’t that rosy after all and they need to follow the Law just like those single property Landlords.

    • Trust me, I lived there and it was that bad, the landlord, Ben Smith, even harassed me and I had ti get the police involved. No heating, no WiFi, not hot water for weeks. The place was a construction site when I moved in and the landlord still has the audacity to make threats. I even have emails from staff saying we cannot leave and even if we do we must continue paying rent even though he was in breach of contract right from the beginning. Most awful experience I’ve ever had and I think they should have penalised him more, large scale landlord and he didn’t even secure our deposits. I moved in in September and I emailed asking for proof of the deposit certificate in June which he then produced. Guess when the date of security was? 4th June. Complete con artist. I still haven’t got that deposit back. Landlords like that are the type that radicalise people against landlords everywhere.

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