Tenant Question - Trapped in contract in an Undersized room

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  • DPT57
    replied
    Originally posted by Uzzimon View Post
    Thank you for the responses.

    I'm still a little unsure on how to determine if the house is actually overcrowded.
    Try speaking to the Council Environmental Health Officer. I would keep up the pressure on the Council here till they issue a cat 1 notice to the landlord. You can then take action yourself under Homes Fitness For Human Habitation Act. However, I should add that I have no idea whether the level of overcrowding in your property would constitute z cat 1 hazard.

    Leave a comment:


  • Joetoria Ltd
    replied
    Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
    So, if a long leaseholder advertises a flat not fit for human habitation, as a viable home, they would be off the hook, because it was the freeholder's property that they selling?

    I think advertising a property which is unlettable to gain the advantage of not having to pay the remaining rent would be fraud. Also, I rather suspect that the the landlord will only release them when the new renter is in place, so they would be aiding and abetting.

    I think the best option may be to get the council to start action against the landlord.
    Never in the history of ever has a tenant of an AST been sued for aiding and abetting fraud by advertising a room they currently occupy to another tenant. It just isn't a thing. The council currently know that the landlord is breaking the law and they still don't get involved. They aren't going to go searching Spareroom to see who posted the original advert.
    ​​​
    I agree that the council might be the better course of action. Writing a letter to the landlord stating that they have contacted the council who have agreed the room is too small and stating that the OP will start legal action unless they are released from their contract.
    ​​​

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  • leaseholder64
    replied
    I thought you had a lounge kitchen, which would definitely count as potential sleeping accommodation in a non-HMO. A kitchen/diner (i.e. a large kitchen), if bigger than 50 square feet, is a bit of a grey area, and depends on the part of the country.

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  • Uzzimon
    replied
    Thank you for the responses.

    I'm still a little unsure on how to determine if the house is actually overcrowded? Does the size off the open plan kitchen/living room make a difference? Does it matter if my contract is only for the room I live in?

    I found a floor plan online from when the property was sold some several years ago, and it appears my room used to be a bathroom prior to the renovation.

    Leave a comment:


  • leaseholder64
    replied
    So, if a long leaseholder advertises a flat not fit for human habitation, as a viable home, they would be off the hook, because it was the freeholder's property that they selling?

    I think advertising a property which is unlettable to gain the advantage of not having to pay the remaining rent would be fraud. Also, I rather suspect that the the landlord will only release them when the new renter is in place, so they would be aiding and abetting.

    I think the best option may be to get the council to start action against the landlord.

    Leave a comment:


  • Joetoria Ltd
    replied
    Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post

    The OP would be committing an offence by accepting any offer to rent the room. Even the advertisement might be an offence.
    The OP mentioned that the contract states that they can replace themselves. I'm not talking about subletting.

    The new contract would be between the new renter and the landlord... The existing tenant would be in no way responsible for the landlord renting the room below the required levels.

    Leave a comment:


  • DPT57
    replied
    I would have thought that the Council should at least have an interest under HHSRS as it sounds like there might be statutory overcrowding. If the tenant could confirm that they might be able to take, or at least threaten action themselves under the H(FFHH) Act.

    Leave a comment:


  • leaseholder64
    replied
    I've assumed a reasonably sized kitchen living room. One might go statutorily overcrowded with only some other rooms less than 6.51 square metres, if the living room area is less than 10.2 square metres. If the living room has been split, to create a bedroom, it may well be small.

    I wonder what the original layout was.

    Especially if it is on a higher floor, and any of the current rooms don't open directly onto the hallway, there may be fire safety breaches, even as a single family flat.

    Leave a comment:


  • leaseholder64
    replied
    It would appear that there is only an offence if a licence is required (or if the overall overcrowding limit applies - which would only be the case if all the other rooms were under 6.51 square metres). The HMO legislation sets conditions on the terms of licences, rather than directly setting conditions on HMO managers.

    From what is said in the thread, it appears that the council think there is an offence, although it is possible they have been confused by the exemptions for flats in purpose built blocks of at least three flats. It might be worth checking for Additional Licensing, as it is possible that a licence is required even if the Mandatory licensing exemption applies.

    What we have from the thread is that the council have said the room is illegal, and and they have also said they cannot deal with the interaction of civil and criminal law, by which I think they mean that they cannot comment on the effect on the contract of letting the room be a criminal offence.

    I would have thought advertising something where you were statute barred from providing what was advertised must be subject to some sort of trading standards legislation.

    On a different point, the OP should have treated the 3 year contract as a red flag. Landlords here are advised to go for six months and most agents go for one year.

    Leave a comment:


  • MdeB
    replied
    Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post

    The OP would be committing an offence by accepting any offer to rent the room. Even the advertisement might be an offence.
    Doesn't "offence" imply criminal behaviour?
    Please elaborate on these offences.

    Leave a comment:


  • leaseholder64
    replied
    Originally posted by Joetoria Ltd View Post
    If you can't be bothered to fight and want to find a replacement you could simply just advertise the room at the price you pay (not rely on the agent who is asking for 100 more a month). You are finding a replacement... Not an upgrade. Advertising is normally free.

    Once you are out you can decide whether to fight without living under a roof owned by someone you are sueing. You may be able to get rent repaid to you.
    ​​
    The OP would be committing an offence by accepting any offer to rent the room. Even the advertisement might be an offence.

    Leave a comment:


  • Joetoria Ltd
    replied
    If you can't be bothered to fight and want to find a replacement you could simply just advertise the room at the price you pay (not rely on the agent who is asking for 100 more a month). You are finding a replacement... Not an upgrade. Advertising is normally free.

    Once you are out you can decide whether to fight without living under a roof owned by someone you are sueing. You may be able to get rent repaid to you.
    ​​

    Leave a comment:


  • mariner
    replied
    OP,, you can seek other suitable alt accom after you find an acceptable replacement from your departure date.
    LL can ask for any rent he deems appropriate at time.
    London can be the Wild West for renting, esp HMOs.

    Leave a comment:


  • Uzzimon
    replied
    Thanks, I've just been worried that if I do look to negotiate, whether this issue would actually have any worth in the talks.

    The property has 5 bedrooms, all of fairly small size but mine is the only beneath the minimum. Apart from bathrooms the only other room is an open plan kitchen/living room, which is of a mediocre size. If it makes a difference, we are all on separate contracts, with mine just being for the room I'm in as well as "shared right of access to the communal areas of the flat in common with the other occupants"

    Leave a comment:


  • leaseholder64
    replied
    I think he can get a significant fine, even whilst you are still there. I'd expect him to be then declared to be not a fit and proper person, which would mean he would be ineligible for landlord licences in future.

    Also, note that the exemption is not for all flats in multiple occupation, but only for purpose built ones in blocks of three or more flats.

    Also, it is very likely that the landlord is in breach of his lease by:

    - altering the internal layout;

    - using it as other than a single family home;

    - sub-letting part only,

    although this will depend on the lease itself. The freeholder may want to take civil action, to forfeit the lease, or at least force the return to single family use or a sale to someone who will do that.

    Leave a comment:

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