Third years who found their housemate dead in his room are now being sued for unpaid rent

They were too traumatised to return

Students too traumatised to return to their house after they found their housemate dead are being sued by their landlord for outstanding rent.

The four housemates came home on January 11 of last year to find Robert Chavda, 21, dead in his bed after suffering a brain haemorrhage from taking MDMA.

The three grieving pals needed counselling for post traumatic stress and were rehoused by their university after the ordeal.

They argue the ordeal emotionally destroyed them and left them unable to move back into the five-bedroom property.

But landlord Werner Toogood is demanding they cough up £6,529 for the remaining five months of their contract for the house in Canterbury, Kent.

He took the claim for rent for the 2013/14 academic year to Medway Civil Court and a judge is expected to return a verdict later this month.

robchavda1

Canterbury student Robert Chavda died last year

His housemates Dan McCourt, 22, Elon Carlton-Carew, 22, Adam Waller, 24, and Jack Dick desperately tried to resuscitate him.

After his death the housemates asked Toogood to find them alternative accommodation, but he was unable to.

They were instead rehomed together by Canterbury Christ Church University and given counselling.

Three of the students offered to pay Mr Toogood three of the remaining five months of their tenancy to terminate the contract, but he refused.

Jack Dick paid in full to avoid court action.

Mr Toogood told the court: “The fact is that the building is still there. The circumstances have not changed.

“It was not our circumstances which changed, but the tenants’. Had the building fallen down, it would have been a different argument.

“We did what we could, but unfortunately we did not have any spare accommodation.

“It was the tenants’ responsibility to pay the contract, but after various conversations we received a letter saying they were no longer going to continue with paying the rent.

“The offer was made for three months, but it was rejected because it would have left it fallow for three months.”

Mr Toogood had written to Robert’s parents offering them a two-year repayment plan on their son’s outstanding rent, but later waived the debt.

He also offered the students and their families the chance to sublet the rooms in the house in order to fulfil the contract, but they declined.

robchavdafeat

Rob’s housemates are being sued for outstanding rent for leaving after he died

In September of 2014, he sent them a solicitor’s letter which sparked the civil action against them.

Mr McCourt’s mother, Nicola, 48, acted as a spokesman in court for the students and their families, who were guarantors on the tenancy agreement.

She said: “They were traumatised by what had happened and were in no fit state to deal with this.

“In February, he started renovating the house. His actions imply a surrender of the property had taken place and that he had taken ownership of it.

“When we got the solicitor’s letter, it was a total shock.”

Adam Waller’s mother Rosemary added: “If the roof of the house had caved in they wouldn’t have been able to live there – but their whole worlds caved in when Rob died.”

Mr Toogood’s business Student Lettings Agency has the motto “looking after you”. He had about 200 properties with 500 student tenants.

An inquest into Robert’s death last June recorded a verdict of misadventure.

He had been to a nightclub and taken MDMA on January 9.

A friend stayed with him and then left the next afternoon, leaving him sleeping on the bed.

By January 11, the others in the house realised they had not seen him for a while. Adam Waller went into the room and found his lifeless body on the bed.

A pathologist found 1.4mg of MDMA per litre of blood, putting it in the fatal range. It was responsible for the brain haemorrhage which caused his death.

More
The Tab