John and Jean Nolan face legal costs running into thousands of pounds after a High Court jury took 30 minutes to reject their libel claims against their landlord, Barbara Grant-Adamson.
Mrs Grant-Adamson had offered to settle the Nolans' claim for £1,000 before the case came to trial, but now the couple will not get a penny.
Mr and Mrs Nolan, both in their early 60s, claimed Mrs Grant-Adamson had falsely accused them in writing of being 'difficult' tenants with a history of 'long-standing mental and psychiatric problems'.
Mr Nolan denied that he or his wife had ever received psychiatric treatment or that they had ever been 'difficult or obstructive' tenants.
He said he only learnt of the contents of Mrs Grant-Adamson's letter after hearing 'numerous references' to it during an appeal to the Watford Rent Assessment Panel after their rent was increased by 57%. Mrs Grant-Adamson admitted writing the letter but claimed her comments about the couple were made under the cloak of 'qualified privilege'. She accepted that the remarks she made about the Nolans were incorrect in some respects.
But she claimed she was entitled to make them at the time because she believed them to be true.
The High Court jury rejected the Nolans' libel claims and Mr Justice Drake ordered the couple to pay the action's legal costs.