Subtenant scam and eviction

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    Subtenant scam and eviction

    Hi, i hope this is the right place to post this, as i am a tenant, not a landlord.

    This is in England. 4 months ago i rented a room from a lady, we signed a contract, paid rent and deposit and everything was fine. About a couple of weeks in i opened a letter addressed to the tenants and found a section 21 notice addressed to my landlady. She doesn't live with us. I contacted her to ask her what's going on and she said that everything was fine, but her solicitor advised her that to evict the couple that rents the other room in the house (she's been very vocal about not liking them and wanting them to leave) she had to do that. We had a bit of back and forth but she kept re assuring me.

    It seemed a bit fishy and after a few days i went to speak to the agency that sent the notice and they told me that my landlady was not a landlady, but the tenant of the real landlady, and had no permission to rent to us and we must leave. I have done a bit of research, went to speak to the council and shelter, but they have given me very confusing advice, hence i'm here. My contract is until september and i was planning to move out then as I'm going to start uni, however, i was informed that because my landlady didn't have permission to sublet to us, once her tenancy is ended i also have to move out. How is it possible that my contract has no validity?

    The agent told us our landlady hasn't been paying rent and they had a feeling she was subletting. We offered to pay rent directly to the real landlady, but they said she wants us out and start fresh.

    The person at the council told me that i'm well within my rights to stay up to the moment the bailiffs arrive and if we receive a big heavy envelope addressed to my landlady we should open it as it could be court papers and we can respond as interested parties. We received this yesterday.

    My landlady has now stopped responding to my texts and calls....

    My questions are:

    How can i make myself an interested party to this court proceedings to explain my situation and try to buy myself time until September?
    The notice served was a section 21 with 2 months, however in the court paperwork there's also my landlady contract with her landlady and she appears to be paying quarterly. Is the S21 valid? All other requirements seems to have been met for validity. If it's not valid, how strong of a case do i have to have it dismissed?
    I'm now nervous because i opened the envelope that was not addressed to us, will i be penalised in court for having done that?

    What do you suggest I do? I understand the real landlady is very out of pocket if she's not getting her rent from my landlady, and that's terrible, but it would really cause me problems to move out before september.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this!

    #2
    The section 21 isn't actually valid, but that doesn't help you. Section 21 only applies to AST's but, as it is not her principal home, your landlady only has a common law tenancy. That actually means she is easier to evict. (Section 21 may have been issued as belt and braces).

    The council are half right in saying that you can stay until the bailiffs arrive. Whilst that is true, any delay means that someone accumulates legal costs. However, in this case, I think that someone is the first level tenant.

    You should not, however, leave until you either have alternative accommodation, or the bailiffs arrive, otherwise the council will treat you as intentionally homeless.

    The real landlord is not going to want to accept rent from you, as they will be locked in for six months if you fail to leave in September. I'm not sure if there is any scope for them granting retrospective permission to sub-let. It is possible that would allow them to inherit your sub-tenancy without resetting the six month clock.

    The fact that your landlords didn't have permission to sub-let doesn't mean that you can stop paying them rent.

    I presume they could also issue a section 21 against you, in which case, once it went to court, you could be charged their legal costs.

    Comment


      #3
      I would phone and/or write to the clerk of the court, the number/address will be on the court papers, and explain your situation and that it makes you an interested party.

      The clerk will advise you what to do that's part of their job, court clerks are usually very helpful.

      At least then the judge will know that there are sub-tenants involved and it's not just a 'simple' eviction.

      But I'm afraid that you yourself don't have much right to stop any eviction of your Landlady, that's a matter between her and her landlord/lady.
      If your LL is evicted then you will have to leave.
      (If the S21 is invalid then that may take longer, but it looks like it is going to happen eventually).

      Of course your LL would then have a legal requirement to home you in line with your tenancy agreement with her.
      But that is unlikely to happen, and TBH would you want to continue your relationship with her?

      It's not fair on you, but your best, realistic, course of action in these circumstances is to start looking for somewhere else to rent.

      You can't even look at taking legal action against your LL yet, as long as you are in the flat then she is complying with your tenancy agreement.
      It's only if she gets evicted, and doesn't provide you with alternative accommodation, that she would be in breach.

      PS.
      I wouldn't worry too much about opening the letter.
      It might annoy your LL that you did, but I'm guessing that you are not on the best of terms now anyway.
      Once mail has been delivered to the correct address it's technically OK to open it. "I didn't see who it was for until I opened it" is a reasonable excuse.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by nukecad View Post
        I
        It's not fair on you, but your best, realistic, course of action in these circumstances is to start looking for somewhere else to rent.
        This. By all means contact the court and register as an interested party but aside from that you're essentially on a hiding to nothing if you expect a more favourable outcome in terms of being permitted to remain in the property indefinitely.

        Comment


          #5
          Thank you so much for your replies!

          Do you know if as an interested party I'm able to say that the notice is not valid even if it wasn't addressed to me? Am i correct in thinking the notice should have been for 3 months not 2? hence it's not valid and they need to serve a new one for 3 months? Because, if that's the case, that would resolve all the problems and give me until September.

          Also, @leaseholder64 what do you mean:Section 21 only applies to AST's but, as it is not her principal home, your landlady only has a common law tenancy. That actually means she is easier to evict.

          Comment


            #6
            Statutory protection of tenants only applies to people who live somewhere as their main home. Section 21 of the Housing Act only applies where there is statutory protection. Your landlady has no statutory protection, so possession proceedings can be started with no more than a letter before action. They don't need a section 21 notice. As such there is no point in arguing as whether there are technical issues with the section 21.

            Where section 21 applies, only two months notice is required.

            Comment


              #7
              So, basically i have no defence? In which case, is there any point in making myself an interested party? Thanks

              Comment


                #8
                Also, i don't know if it makes a difference in terms of the type of notice served, but the court papers are for accelerated possession. Is that still ok if it doesn't need to be a section 21? I'm just trying to find a way to buy myself until september.

                Comment


                  #9
                  There is no defence to section 21, other than a very short delay for extreme hardship.

                  If you do succeed in showing you are an interested party, you will probably derail the accelerated possession, by forcing a hearing, and therefore slow the whole process down. It looks like accelerated possession requires an AST, and the intermediate landlord doesn't have one.

                  Unfortunately, the best person to intervene is the intermediate landlord, and they may well pull a vanishing act, and have no real incentive to protect their sub-tenant, except maybe the continuing rent they can intercept.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The superior landlord need to end the intermediate tenancy with a notice to quit, at least a period of the intermediate tenancy etc., which they probably haven't given. The s21 isn't valid, since intermediate tenancy isn't an AST.

                    Make the court aware of your existence, force a hearing, which will delay things a bit, then the question of how the superior landlord can validly end both tenancies / evict illegal sub-tenant. Should delay things enough to September.

                    You probably want to take legal advice / instruct a solicitor. I don't know if legal aid is possible in your situation. Go and ask relevant law firms.

                    Personally, I would stop paying rent to the dodgy subletter. See if the Superior landlord are willing to let you stay till you go to uni if you pay them rent. They may not (there's good reasons to say no), but they may well do.
                    I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

                    I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      You do need to let the court know that you are involved as an unwittingly ilegal sub-tenant.

                      That lets them know that your LL is not resident, so does not have a residential tenancy, and so S21 is the wrong process in this situation.

                      As said above that should string things out until at least September probably much longer.

                      The Superior LL either doesn't know that S21is the wrong process, or is hoping that the court may not find out about you, which would make things easier for him/her.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thanks you. Would the notice to quit still be for 3 months, given the rent is paid quarterly?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          You are looking at leaving anyway in about two and half months time. It should be easy to drag it out until then without having to worry about the courts.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Drag it out and I would try and get in touch with the flat owner just before S21 expires.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by blue-ish View Post
                              Thanks you. Would the notice to quit still be for 3 months, given the rent is paid quarterly?
                              How often you pay rent is irrelevant, it's down to how often your landlord, i.e. the mesne tenant, is supposed to pay their rent.

                              Originally posted by fullhouse50 View Post
                              Drag it out and I would try and get in touch with the flat owner just before S21 expires.
                              If the resident have received court's paperwork, one would assume that the s21 have expired already.
                              I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

                              I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

                              Comment

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