Landlord selling & wants us out

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    Landlord selling & wants us out

    I can't seem to find the answers to my questions despite spending several hours trawling Google.

    We current occupy a retail unit and have done for the last 4 years. When we moved in we didn't sign a lease, it was fairly informal, we just paid the deposit of 1 months rent along with the first months rent and were handed the keys. I'm not sure whether it makes any difference but it wasn't the landlord who initially gave us the keys and took the rent money, but the person who occupies the unit next to ours, as the landlord isn't local he was holding the keys for the landlord. We paid the initial rent & deposit in cash and since then have paid all rent via standing order direct to the landlord.

    All has been fine for the last 3 1/2 years, however the landlord decided they'd like to sell last July and wants to do so with vacant possession. They wrote to us in November to tell us we had 3 months to leave and hand back the keys. The problem we have is locally there is very little else that would suit our needs and budget, we'd be looking at 8 times the rent elsewhere (granted the unit's would be bigger but this currently suits our need), we've also built up a business here and if customers turned up and found we were closed they may just go elsewhere and we'd lose business.

    I believe, from what I've read, that because the landlord didn't give us an actual lease it falls back to the default law of the LL&T 1954, and that we have security of tenure (Which I've told the landlord, and that they haven't served us with a section 25 notice), which sounds great in principle but what does it actually mean in so far as if we turn up for work one day and the landlord has changed the locks (or the key fob for the electric shutters) what do we do and who do we contact? With the potential for that to happen could we pre-empt it and change the locks ourself, or would that breach the default tenancy agreement? As far as I'm aware we've never breached any rules of the default tenancy agreement, we've always paid rent on time (as it's paid by standing order), and the building is in a reasonable state of repair.

    I know we may need to employ a solicitor who specialises in this field but having spoken to a couple they tell us we're looking at approx £250-£300 PH, and although we can afford for some legal advice when the need arises, I'm trying to keep costs to a minimum initially as we're not making it hand over foot.

    Any and all help would be appreciated.

    Your tenancy definitely comes within Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. The landlord can only end it on one of the statutory grounds after serving a section 25 notice. The grounds are explained here:

    There is no reason why you should not change the locks. If the landlord locks you out and you cannot get back in you take immediate legal action and sue the landlord for unlawful eviction.

    If the landlord persists in requiring you to comply with his invalid notice write and say you have taken legal advice and that he cannot terminate the tenancy except by serving proper notice and proving one of the statutory grounds.


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