A millionaire couple have lost a £ 100,000 lawsuit after accusing their American business magnate tenants of ruining their soft furnishings with the scent of his cigars.
PR boss Nick Boakes, 65, and husband Harald Thinker have sued Jonathan Hagmaier and wife Mary after accusing them of polluting the luxury London flat with smoke and leaving his £ 10,000 carpet tainted with moths and snails’.
In 2018, Boakes had leased the basement level of his Grade II listed Victorian home on Warwick Avenue, Little Venice, to the American power couple for £ 50,000 a year.
Mr and Mrs Hagmaier, who own more than 100 properties themselves as part of an investment plan, had been based in the UK for two years and loved the elegant ‘Italianate’ building on a street selling properties up to £ 10 million.
PR boss Nick Boakes (left), 65, and husband Harald Thinker (right) have sued Jonathan Hagmaier and wife Mary after accusing them of polluting the luxury London flat with smoke
The feud broke out after Ms. Hagmaier complained that the model’s former husband, Mr. Thinker, 58, insisted on decorating their flat with “ armfuls ” of his own stuff.
But Mr. Boakes and Mr. Thinker, who live in the apartment above but own the entire building together, claimed that Hagmaier’s cigar habit had caused them to suffer from “coughs, headaches, and nightmares.”
After they left, the Hagmaiers requested the return of their £ 6,270 bail, but it was not received, prompting the couple to recover their money, with Mrs. Hagmaier telling a judge that “ under Mr. Thinker and Mr. Boakes one of the most unpleasant experiences I could imagine. ‘
Mr Boakes, who is non-executive chairman at PR consultancy MRM, ‘sued’ as landlord for £ 81,538 in damages, saying they left a trail of damage caused by annoyances such as the stench of Mr Hagmaier’s cigar.
After five days in court, Judge David Mayall awarded Boakes only £ 2,952 in damages and made him pay the hefty legal costs of the trial, which attorneys said would be at least £ 100,000.
He also ruled that Mr and Mrs Hagmaier – who accepted to pay for a thorough cleaning of the apartment – are entitled to their £ 6,270 bail.
Former principal, Mr. Hagmaier, who denied smoking in the condo, runs a thriving educational technology business that he set up in real estate with his wife Mary and is normally located in Roanoke, Virginia.
Central London County Court overheard the couple say they had left their rented flat in January 2019, just before the end of their first year’s lease because Ms. Hagmaier’s life had turned ‘miserable’.
“Life under Mr. Thinker and Mr. Boakes was one of the most dire experiences I could imagine,” Mrs. Hagmaier told the judge.
‘The relationship with Mr. Thinker was very difficult from the moment we moved in because he came into our flat with an armful of stuff and just put them down and said’ this suits the flat ‘.
Mr. Boakes had the basement level of his Grade II listed Victorian home (pictured) on Warwick Avenue, Little Venice, rented to the US power couple at a value of £ 50,000 a year in 2018
“They were items that didn’t fit the flat in your wildest imagination, he just used our place as storage space,” she said.
It was amazing because he came in and out every day and would leave something behind.
“One day it was a little china dog and he came up to us and put it on the shelf and said it belongs to the flat. So I realized that anything he couldn’t fit into his own apartment came to ours.
‘We filled wardrobes and cupboards with his stuff, it was quite a challenge.’
But Messrs. Boakes and Thinker claimed that the Hagmaiers had neglected the “chic” apartment and left “significant damage” when they left, including “some very valuable antiques.”
The heavy cigars smoking in and around the condo had caused “significant damage to the furnishings and decorations,” while the couple had also allowed others to smoke there with the same effect, Mr Boakes’ attorney James Tipler claimed.
The flat was rented out fully furnished, including ‘furniture and decorations’ of ‘exceptionally high value and quality’ that tenants had to take care not to damage, he said.
But the Hagmeiers denied that they had not kept the flat clean, pointing out that they even spent £ 335 to have the windows cleaned with distilled water.
While accepting to pay for a thorough cleaning of the flat, the Hagmaiers ‘lawyers labeled Mr Boakes’ £ 81,538 a ‘scandalous’ figure.
The Hagmeiers (pictured) denied not keeping the flat clean, pointing out that they even spent £ 335 to have the windows cleaned with distilled water.
Judge Mayall, who delivered his ruling, awarded Mr Boakes £ 2,952 for the cost of cleaning the flat, windows and curtains – in part because of the effects of cigar smoke.
But he refuted claims that Messrs Boakes and Thinker had to reupholster furniture and replace curtains and “upholstery” because of persistent traces of “foul-smelling cigar smoke.”
Also dismissed were claims for damages to the landlord’s £ 9,500 green carpet, which Mr Boakes said was ‘infested with snails and moths’ after being taken to a damp storage area outside.
The judge said Ms. Hagmaier had become increasingly “upset” because she claimed that Mr. Thinker “just kept putting things down” and added, “I’m satisfied they didn’t act unreasonably.”
He also ruled out Mr Boakes’ claim of £ 3,602 regarding a bed that Mr Boakes and Mr Thinker claimed had the Hagmaiers removed without their landlord’s consent.
In fact, the Hagmaiers were off the bed with the agreement of Mr. Boakes – although this was denied by Mr. Thinker – after Mrs. Hagmaier complained that it was in a “shocking” state.
The judge tapped Mr. Boakes’s husband, Mr. Thinker, for exaggerating the state in which the flat was left, and told the court, “I must say that I do consider Mr. Thinker an extremely unsatisfactory witness.
My overall impression was that he was a man who did not try to tell the truth and whose evidence I cannot rely on.
“ Every confession had to be dragged out of him during the four-day trial, ” he added, while commenting on Mr. Boakes, “ his evidence was generally not as important in the allegation, but certainly not as unsatisfactory as Mr. Boakes. Thinker’s’.
Mr. Boakes had taken a “backseat” in organizing the apartment rental, the court heard, and Hagmaiers’ attorney, Mr. Thomas, said Mr. Thinker “appeared to be the guiding spirit behind this action.”
Despite their right to “undisturbed enjoyment,” Mr. Thinker was “in the habit of entering the apartment to bring or remove items from his own apartment,” the lawyer said.
The judge indicated that Mr. Boakes had to pay Hagmaiers’ legal bill, and the couple’s lawyers later estimate that his total court costs will be “ well into the six digits. ”