Help with bad landlord

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    Help with bad landlord

    I have a friend who has rented a property on an assured shorthold tenancy for 3 years now. The tenancy has long expired and so has automatically converted into a periodic tenancy.

    Recently following an inspection the boiler in the property was condemned and switched off as a result. She asked the landlord to resolve this issue and the landlord (knowing she is not familiar with English language and law) told her that as there was no boiler fault on the last inspection the damage must have been caused by the tenant and so she is liable for the repair.

    At this point I got involved and it took several emails (in which she continued to claim it’s the tenants responsibility and also claimed that there was nothing wrong with the boiler and asked her to switch it back on) and a complaint to environmental health in order to get the landlord to agree to repair the boiler. This has left my friend with no heating or hot water for over a week so far while we have tried to resolve this.

    Now the landlord lord has finally agreed (although not yet arranged) to repair the boiler. On the same email as stating she will repair the boiler she has also stated she will be asking my friend to sign a new tenancy and is increasing the rent. Now I know that it is illegal to make tenants financially liable for repairs and increasing the rent on the same day as agreeing to repair the boiler is an attempt to recover these costs. I have therefore replied to the landlord explaining this and stating my friend does not agree.

    The increase would also rise the rent above the market value for that house type in that area and as the property is in poor condition (mould on walls of kitchen extension as leaking roof join etc.) is not worth it at all. If my friend simply refuses the increase in rent what is the next step?

    I believe the landlord could also be prevented obtaining a section 21 notice as this would be seen as a revenge eviction due to the complaint to environmental health and the threat of enforcement action.

    Thank you

    #2
    The landlord can increase the rent in a periodic tenancy by issuing a section 13 notice.
    That can be appealed to a tribunal, but isn't something that the tenant has to agree to.

    Your friend can decline to sign a new tenancy agreement and the landlord can't make them sign.

    The landlord can serve notice under s21 at any time, giving no reason.
    The landlord could not do that if they had been served a formal notice by the council (there are specific notices that have this effect).
    Threatening action or complaining to the council isn't enough.

    If the property is mouldy and leaking, you could actually involve the environmental health team and ask them to formally raise an improvement notice on the landlord.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      Follow Shelter's excellent advice on things needing repair here, including draft letter & how to involve council.
      https://england.shelter.org.uk/housi...ivate_landlord

      Sorry to read of this, shouldn't happen to anyone...
      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by SacreLao View Post
        On the same email as stating she will repair the boiler she has also stated she will be asking my friend to sign a new tenancy and is increasing the rent. Now I know that it is illegal to make tenants financially liable for repairs and increasing the rent on the same day as agreeing to repair the boiler is an attempt to recover these costs.
        There isn't any law against what some might construe as a 'revenge rent increase' in this country. Increasing the rent in response to having to fix the boiler won't be seen as the same as directly getting the tenant to pay for fixing the boiler. So increasing the rent seemingly in response to asking for a repair to be done is not illegal. (It is in some US states).
        ​​​​​​
        The only way to challenge a rent increase is to not agree then the landlord will have to serve a section 13 rent increase notice then you can appeal it as jpkeates says. If you do that then the tribunal will take into account repair works needed and come and inspect the property then you would attend a tribunal hearing.

        Comment


          #5
          Thank you for your advice. Shelter has advised me that raising the rent will be seen as passing the repair costs onto the tenant as the landlord basically emailed saying fine I’ll repair the boiler but I’m increasing the rent now. They have said this is illegal and the tenant can refuse, they haven’t really explained what happens next however. The landlord hasn’t issued a section 13 simply emailed saying it increases (by 17%} as of the 1st March (just over 1 weeks notice) when she also wants a new AST signed. She knows the tenant can’t afford this so I suspect it’s her way of getting rid.

          Should I be asking the landlord to issue a section 13 and then raising a dispute? Does this all still apply if the landlord only has this 1 property?

          The landlord is truely vile, I’ve never experienced anything like it. She only rents to people new to the country apparently as in the case of my friend, I suspect so she can ignore the law. Environmental health didn’t issue a notice of improvement, they emailed the landlord stating that if they refuse to repair the boiler this is what they will do and they will also seek to prosecute the landlord, she agreed to repair based on this email. Does this still mean she is protected from a revenge eviction?

          The landlord actually emailed (I have seen it) saying ignore the gas engineer he was wrong, the boiler is safe turn it back on. Despite having been given a warning notice condemning the boiler and knowing that the boiler is in the bedroom of my friends children! She is dangerous and someone else, with limited English and understanding of the law, may well have followed her instructions!

          She is also refusing to communicate with the tenant now, as I have assisted my friend by writing an email on her behalf in English, stating the UK laws she was breaching, she is now saying she will not speak to me or my friend. Instead she has been sending emails to my friends ex-husband to pass on, despite him moving out 2 years ago and not being named on the tenancy for the last 2 years! He is understandably annoyed at being involved in this situation.

          I am helping my friend find a new property as she cannot afford this new rent and knows the landlord will now make her life hell because she dared to ask for a repair, 1 repair in 3 years! So what we need now is time to find somewhere. She is worried that if on the 1st March she does not pay the new rent she will be evicted. The landlord has previously threatened to change the locks while she is out. If the landlord has not issued a section 13 and my friend pays her usual rent on the 1st March and refuses to sign the new contract, is this grounds for the landlord to evict?

          Thank you

          Comment


            #6
            Especially as we have established that this is non an excluded tenancy, changing the locks whilst the tenant is out is a criminal offence.

            Unfortunately, I think criminal landlords do target foreigners.

            Comment


              #7
              She should not pay any increased rent, that would be an acceptance of the increase.

              She should pay her usual rent and inform the LL that she needs to issue a section 13 notice to increase the rent, and then challenge that notice.
              See the advice here on challenging the notice:
              https://england.shelter.org.uk/housi...rent_increases

              This will probably all end in an eviction, but if your friend is already looking for somewhere else then so what.
              For the LL to evict she initially has to give 2 months notice by a section 21 notice, and after the 2 months has to go to court to get a posession order which can take up to 9 months.
              As said by others any attempt to evict without a posession order is a criminal offence.

              I would tell the ex-husband not to pass anything on to you friend, it's not his problem.
              If the LL refuses to have contact with the tenant that's the LL's problem.
              Just keep paying the usual rent untill she finds somewhere else.

              When she does find somewehere else she should give the LL at least one months notice, ending on the monthly anniversary of the Tenancy Agreement.
              Just because the LL is doing things wrong doesn't mean that your friend should.

              Comment


                #8
                The landlord cannot increase the rent without your friends agreement so at this stage you can just ignore the supposed rent increase. It only exists inside the landlords head! I wouldn't bother explaining to the landlord that she has to use a section 13 to increase the rent. You are not the landlords solicitor so don't need to help her to increase the rent. Let her find out how to do it legally herself.

                Call the police if she changes the locks.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Great thank you.

                  She has now also said she wants to inspect the property (for the first time in the 3 and a half years my friend has lived there). She has given a date and time and said she is coming then and that if no one is home she will enter anyway. We have replied refusing the inspection and reminding her that entering without permission is a criminal offence.

                  We are going to ride this out while searching for another property.

                  Is there anyone to report this landlord to to prevent her doing this to someone else once my friend leaves?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Local councils are supposed to have a tenancy relations officer to deal with these sorts of things but not all have them but you could try.

                    If you are getting all this in emails from the landlord then you have evidence to build a case for harassment. Also illegal eviction under protection from eviction act - police matter.

                    https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1977/43​​​​​​

                    Also harassment under civil law. A legal aid (if your friend qualifies) solicitor may be able to help. It has to be considered serious enough harassment to get legal aid for it.

                    You need 2 or more related incidents for harassment.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Yes this is all in emails. We do not have any contact details for the landlord other than an email address. If she does turn up and try to enter I will contact the police. She is arguing that because my friend is home from work at that time she should be in for the inspection but she actually has a house viewing then although does not want to tell the landlord this.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        It's none of the landlord's business why it's not convenient.
                        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                        Comment


                          #13
                          This is her latest reply. She is stating she is coming to inspect no matter what, despite me saying 4 times it’s not suitable and offering her many other dates. My friend is concerned because we have a house viewing at that time and her teenage child will be home alone and terrified if the landlord turns up demanding access but if we cancel the viewing she may lose her only chance to get out of this house. Is there anyway to stop her coming? Emails telling her she can’t and saying if she tried to get in we would be ringing the police have not stopped her.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            From that email she isn't saying she will enter if noone lets her in. She is being vague about what she will do. In theory she could get a court order to gain entry. But if you have given her alternative times for access then this would be silly.

                            Based on what she says in the email I don't think she will try to come in if noone lets her in on Monday. If your friend changes the lock then the landlord definitely isn't coming in on Monday.

                            Can she take her teenage child with her to the viewing?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              The tenant would be in breach of their obligations. The landlord's remedy would be to start eviction proceedings for breach of covenant. However, if a reasonable alternative time had been proposed, I don't think the court would grant possession as a result.

                              On the other hand, from the other side, a tactic used by dodgy tenants, to avoid no fault evictions, is tell the council that the property is unsafe, and then deny the landlord access to resolve the problem. In that case, the advice to the landlord is to collect evidence that they attempted to gain access. As such, taken in isolation, I don't see anything wrong with the email.

                              Re-reading the thread, it appears to be saying there is an unconditional refusal to allow inspection. That is not the correct response of a good tenant. Although people have a legal right to refuse entry to their home, that doesn't absolve them from liability if they have entered a contract that does say they will give access.

                              Comment

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