Council improvement notice?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Council improvement notice?

    In May, I had an unsolicited HMO inspection by the council and the inspector emailed me the various improvements I had to make, we agreed a timeframe of 2 months, and I did the work. House is a shared HMO not room by room.

    Alongside this, I wanted to increase the rent from June, the start of the SPT. Tenants could not afford the increase, so we agreed a lower increase for 3 months, with the full increase taking effect in Sept if they stayed on. Months before the start of the SPT, tenants said they were probably leaving; then they wanted an extension for 3 months, hence the staggered rent increase; and they have repeatedly said that they will be leaving as they cannot afford the full rent increase. However, these conversations have all taken place in Whatsapp. For months I have been asking them to give me official NTQ in email, and even though they always say yes, nothing has been sent to date.

    I should note that relations have turned a bit sour as tenants were upset by the disruption the improvements caused. They asked for a rent reduction, but as they were already on a below market rent, and did not request any postponement of works from the inspector, I declined.

    So now I feel in limbo as I don't know if valid NTQ has been served by the tenants or not, or if a S21 would even be valid given the council notice. The contract mentions that notices can be served by email.

    Is a whatsapp conversation of intention to leave considered a valid NTQ?

    Do the council requested improvements mean that I cannot serve S21 for 6 months?

    Would appreciate some advice please.


    assume everything I write is preceded by IMHO...

    #2
    Notice to quit by a tenant needs more than the intent to leave at some point in the future.
    It needs to be clear and not subject to any interpretation - if you don't know if it's notice, it probably isn't.

    We're planning to move out in September isn't notice.
    The tenancy will end on 13th September 2022, is notice.

    The council's notice doesn't necessarily mean you can't serve a section 21 notice.
    Was it a notice served under section 11 or 12 or 40(7) of the Housing Act 2004, because they do?
    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
      Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
      Was it a notice served under section 11 or 12 or 40(7) of the Housing Act 2004, because they do?
      There was no mention of any Housing Act section. It was just an email of what we had discussed at the inspection, what works needed to be done and some recommendations. All quite informal.

      In Islington, like most councils I imagine, once an HMO license is granted, the HMO team do an inspection at some point. I think this was the initial inspection with respect to the license.
      assume everything I write is preceded by IMHO...

      Comment


        #4
        If the email didn't cite any of the sections of the regulation noted, you can serve a section 21 notice.

        Personally, I'd stick to the rent increase, if they're right and they can't afford it, that will take care of itself.
        If the tenants are trying to negotiate, serving notice escalates things (and might drive them away).
        If the rent you're proposing is the local market rate, maybe they'll have to accept it.
        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


          #5
          You are right, S21 would just aggravate the situation. I just have to be patient. Worst case, if they believe that they have given valid NTQ, and up and leave in Sept, I will still have time to find new tenants before winter sets in.

          Many thanks for your help.
          assume everything I write is preceded by IMHO...

          Comment


            #6
            I wonder if they have peeked outside in the new rental world ? I bet they will be very surprised, and shocked, they may not leave at all if the rents they find outside are higher than what your new amount is. I would not be surprised at all, the grass being greener and all that.

            Comment


              #7
              Hudson01, I was wondering about that. But if so, wouldn't they just say they have changed their minds and would like to stay? I am baffled that they keep replying that they are leaving as they can't afford to stay, but not actually giving any proper notice.

              The new rent is indeed now below market, as the market has moved on after I got that valuation earlier in the year.

              Given that I did a staggered increase in June and September, confirmed by letter which everyone signed, when can I next raise rent?

              Sounds heartless, but I am tired of tenants who are ungrateful for what they have and the kindness I show them. I lost £500 per month x3 due to the staggered rent, yet I still got a rude message demanding further rent decrease for the disruption due to maintenance work. They insisted on weekday work only, and then complained that it affected them working from home. Sorry.... I'm having a moan.
              assume everything I write is preceded by IMHO...

              Comment


                #8
                I am sure the tenants feel very grateful for living in a property in which the council discovered improvements following an inspection.

                If you haven't issued a Section 13 notice in the last 12 months then you can issue one now with the new rent increase. The tenants could take you to tribunal though if they feel the increase is excessive. However, if you believe the increase is in line with market rates for properties of similar size and condition the tenants are unlikely to be successful. It isn't common for tenants to go tribunal it is more likely they will decide to move elsewhere or fall into arrears.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by shoobydoo View Post
                  Sorry.... I'm having a moan.
                  Fair enough.
                  Can be a trying business.

                  Given that I did a staggered increase in June and September, confirmed by letter which everyone signed, when can I next raise rent?
                  Unless you used a Section 13 notice (aka Form 4) whenever you want (probably after September to be sensible about it.)

                  I lost £500 per month x3 due to the staggered rent
                  There's a difference in business between "losing" £500 a month and "not receiving" £500. If your costs had gone up by £500 in the same period, it might represent an actual loss.
                  Otherwise, it's extra profit you agreed to forgo.
                  Which puts you morally ahead of most UK businesses, to be fair.

                  yet I still got a rude message demanding further rent decrease for the disruption due to maintenance work. They insisted on weekday work only, and then complained that it affected them working from home.
                  They did suffer some inconvenience and it's not a completely unreasonable request, though.

                  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


                    #10
                    Originally posted by DoricPixie View Post
                    I am sure the tenants feel very grateful for living in a property in which the council discovered improvements following an inspection.
                    Perhaps I need to clarify the nature of the improvements before everyone assumes that the tenants have been suffering in squalor due to my negligence. I would add that none of the works were specified in the council HMO standards document that I followed.

                    1. Block up double doorway between adjoining rooms for fire safety and add additional inter-linked smoke alarm in cellar. (I wasn't aware this was needed, but accept this as my oversight as ignorance is no excuse when it comes to safety.)
                    2. Change bathroom timer fans to humidistat ones (so these are mandatory now? Timer fan, big window with vent not enough?)
                    3. Remove mould from bathroom ceilings, stainblock and repaint in bathroom paint. (So even though the bathrooms were mould free at start of tenancy as per the inventory, I am now responsible?)
                    4. Leaf covers over drains, not the rodent mesh I put (any landlords out there who don't have these covers, please lend me some moral support here and by joining my slum landlord club)
                    5. Washing machine waste pipe (in corner of house exterior where even a contortionist could not succeed in tripping over) needs to be bracketed to wall.
                    6. Kitchen worktops are flush with cabinet doors and doors now water damaged. Worktop needs to be changed to overhang by 2cm (I have never held tenants responsible for any of this damage. Luckily inspector accepted me changing doors as needed instead, but all you landlords must have 2cm overhang right?)
                    7. Handrails for all stairs/steps internal and external. (The hallway has 3 steps going to kitchen without a handrail, and cellar only had a grab rail. Fair enough about cellar, as meters are down there.)
                    8. Fire blanket must not be site on the same run as cooker, must be on another wall (fine, easy fix)
                    9. Mustn't have any cracks in the garden concrete, must be all smooth to prevent trip hazard. (No one has ever tripped in 15 years, but ok. Landlords, check your concrete now!)
                    10. 1 sash window not staying up when opened, and another has broken cords but works fine (I wasn't aware of these needed repair, but fair enough. Is this squalor?).
                    11. Carpet a bit threadbare on stairs. All needs replacing or removing as trip hazard. (This was reflected in the rent being charged, but clearly such discounts are not an option for the future. This work was postponed).

                    Granted there was some inconvenience to tenants, but please bear in mind that the tenants had the option to postpone some works, and that they rejected my request to do the work at weekends so as not to impact there home-working. They can't have it both ways.

                    But the upshot here is that I will keep the house in as tip top a condition as possible and always charge market rent (lest I am asked for a further overhang of my worktop or such like!)
                    assume everything I write is preceded by IMHO...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      And you wonder why Local Authorities have a reputation as jobworths.

                      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


                        #12
                        Originally posted by shoobydoo View Post
                        I am tired of tenants who are ungrateful for what they have and the kindness I show them. I lost £500 per month x3 due to the staggered rent, yet I still got a rude message demanding further rent decrease for the disruption due to maintenance work. They insisted on weekday work only, and then complained that it affected them working from home. Sorry.... I'm having a moan.
                        I sometimes think that some tenants are not aware of how the world outside has changed, you are in very real danger of letting the tail wag the dog !! You are trying make the place the best it can be........ and charge a (still) below market rent, if they don't like it........ jog on ! And i would be saying pretty much this to them, it is often that acts of kindness are taken as weakness and tenants look upon it that way. Change and ensure they know who is the boss, it is your property and they pay the rent you state or they look elsewhere.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I am going to change! No more acts of kindness.

                          Ideally, I want these tenants to leave. Failing that, I want to charge them full market rent.

                          I have just looked online and 2 similar properties nearby are being advertised by letting agents at £600 more than my Sept proposed rent (large house, London). Market has clearly moved on since my February valuation.

                          The next rental period starts on 5/8/22. I have told tenants that they need to give notice by midnight on 5/8 if they want to leave on 4/9.

                          Assuming they are planning on staying, how would I go about increasing the rent to market, given that we already agreed to a staggered rise in June and Sept?

                          Do I issue Form 4 in time for October rent? I presume I can't just change my mind about September rent can I as that was already agreed?

                          Should I mention the 3rd rent increase informally to tenants now so that they have time to plan, and hopefully kick them into action to get their notice in?
                          assume everything I write is preceded by IMHO...

                          Comment


                            #14
                            In your opening post you say that you keep requesting the tenants to serve notice via email. Does the original tenancy agreement give email as a valid method of serving notice? It would be unusual if it did. Honestly, stop badgering the tenants via WhatsApp about serving you notice. If you want them gone since the relationship between you and them had broken down, serve a Section 21 and follow the due process.

                            On the other hand you want them to stay, better the devil you know and all that, issue a Section 13 notice increasing the rent to what you want it to be. Presumably the agreement to previous rent increases was all done through WhatsApp or email so to be on the safe side use the Section 13 notice to increase the rent after the September increase.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by DoricPixie View Post
                              In your opening post you say that you keep requesting the tenants to serve notice via email. Does the original tenancy agreement give email as a valid method of serving notice?
                              Yes it does.

                              Honestly, stop badgering the tenants via WhatsApp about serving you notice. If you want them gone since the relationship between you and them had broken down, serve a Section 21 and follow the due process.
                              I have reminded them 5 times in 5 months. Perhaps a tad excessive, but I was doing it for their own good as it always looks better in terms of future housing to leave a place voluntarily than to be evicted. And they were the ones who first said they are leaving.

                              I will likely go down the S21 route as I have already lost a good handyman as the tenants made it so difficult for him to schedule work, and I can only see them becoming even more restrictive in what hours they will allow for maintenance visits. I can't manage the house like that. So would that be 1st class post and proof of posting?

                              On the other hand you want them to stay, better the devil you know and all that, issue a Section 13 notice increasing the rent to what you want it to be. Presumably the agreement to previous rent increases was all done through WhatsApp or email so to be on the safe side use the Section 13 notice to increase the rent after the September increase.
                              The current rent increase for June and Sept was put in a pdf letter which everyone signed electronically. "Tenant agrees that rent will be xx in June and rise to yy in Sept if tenants wish to stay beyond 4/9."

                              I will serve both S13 & S21 to be on the safe side.
                              Many thanks to all for your help.
                              assume everything I write is preceded by IMHO...

                              Comment

                              Latest Activity

                              Collapse

                              • Reply to Guarantor has announced they wont be paying!
                                by DoricPixie
                                I don’t think you’ll get the property back by October either. The tenant is angling for social housing and the council will advise her to hand in until bailiffs physically removed her from the property. Insurance companies and solicitors can’t make the process go any faster. A solicitor might...
                                14-08-2022, 22:51 PM
                              • Guarantor has announced they wont be paying!
                                by lordluvus
                                The girl works in HM service with good ref and actually always paid her half, her dopey partner, was newly self employed and has a guarantor. (family member). Tenant got pregnant but has always paid her half, if sometimes late. Now they have a 1 yr old baby boy. This month she has paid 60% but the rest...
                                14-08-2022, 19:36 PM
                              • Reply to Future Issues for LL and Tenants
                                by DoricPixie
                                Properly insulated properties also help to keep the air cool inside during summer. Much in the same way a Thermos flask can keep its contents either hot or cold.

                                If you had a well insulated home then you wouldn’t need larger radiators to use with heat pumps. Once you reached the desired...
                                14-08-2022, 22:44 PM
                              • Future Issues for LL and Tenants
                                by Hudson01
                                Looking at the news today (similar to yesterday and the day before), they are talking about combined energy bills of 4-5k a year...... by April 2023. There are many properties up north where the combined rental per annum is between 6-7k....... that is insane.

                                Could we have a situation...
                                13-08-2022, 22:08 PM
                              • Reply to Gas Central Heating Included in Rent
                                by ash72
                                I really can't see the new PM (who ever that is) is going to reach into their pockets to then give out more money, If they do I think it's going to be like the winter payment, only selected people will be eligible, and guess what LL's will not be one of them.

                                What other countries are doing...
                                14-08-2022, 21:21 PM
                              • Gas Central Heating Included in Rent
                                by patray
                                I am trying to work out the best way to recoup some of the increase in the cost of the gas given that we can only put up the rent once a year but the cost is going to be increased in October and probably every 3 months.

                                It's not possible to forsee how much prices will rise or what help...
                                14-08-2022, 14:03 PM
                              • Reply to Gas Central Heating Included in Rent
                                by Hudson01
                                I think the govt will step in of sorts but they cannot cover the increase in the rates for the whole population and industry !! Not a chance, i agree we do not know how much, but we have a really good idea that it will be massive. If you do not work this out correctly you will be taking a lot more than...
                                14-08-2022, 21:11 PM
                              • Reply to Guarantor has announced they wont be paying!
                                by Hudson01
                                I doubt very much you will get the house back by October, the tenant has been told the usual by the local authority and will put up a fight, so do not count on your plans going....... to plan. In terms of the guarantor, its in the lap of the gods, if all tickity boo, then great but any flaws at all...
                                14-08-2022, 21:02 PM
                              • Reply to Guarantor has announced they wont be paying!
                                by NaomiB
                                The S21 required my tenant to leave by 18 April but she didn't so then had to apply to the court for an accelerated possession order. She filed no defence so I could apply for the possession order which I received at the end of July for her to leave 10 August. She hasn't so I have applied for the...
                                14-08-2022, 20:54 PM
                              • Reply to Future Issues for LL and Tenants
                                by JK0
                                One of my London HMO tenant's lodgers was kicked out by my tenant recently. She complained to me, so I suggested she move to Reading and could have one of my flats to herself for a similar payment. Not interested.
                                14-08-2022, 20:42 PM
                              Working...
                              X