Is this harassment? What type of tenancy do I have?

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    Is this harassment? What type of tenancy do I have?

    is this harrassment?

    i rent a 3 bedroom property in which i live with my family. i had always paid the rent on time by way of cheque.

    all was well until last year when i approached my Landlord regarding the property, which having never previously been maintained, required some repairs.

    my Landlord said i would first have to sign paperwork describing the property to be of sound state.

    as this was clearly innacurate, i refused to sign and the disrepair remained.
    my landlord made further attemps to have me sign the paperwork claiming it was on the advice of her solicitor.

    i still refused but offered to consider any information that could provide legitamacy to the request.

    my landlord refused to add any legitamacy to the request which then evolved into a demand.

    from this point i wrote to my landlord insisting that under the circumstances i could never sign and that i refused to be harrassed any further.

    this prompted my landlord to announce that she would like to introduce a couple of blokes to me, one being a relative of hers.

    they arrived one evening under the pretence of a landlords inspection and left after demanding cash for all future rent payments.

    one of the blokes then returned every fortnight to collect cash.

    this was obviously unsettling and meant that i daren't leave my family home alone on the particular days, or the subsequent days on the occasions when he failed to show.

    this guy was obviously installed to assert some control over us and he continued attending for some time before i wrote back to my landlord stating that enough was enough. i posted a cheque for the rent. my landlord again wrote back to me explaining that cheques take time to process and demanded the cash.
    i ignored the demand and resumed the issue of cheques at the previous four week freqeuncy.

    i now recieve many intimidating letters from my landlord, often hand delivered at perculiar times of the night and pre dawn and some describing unique features within the property.

    we are definately being watched and it certainly feels that we are being subjected to a sustained campaign of harrassment.

    but, is this harrassment?

    #2
    Yes, this sounds very much like harassment to me. It may even be construed as attempted illegal eviction, as it sounds as though your LL is going out of his way to intimidate you into paying the rent in cash and trying to force you to sign lies before he will carry out necessary repairs.

    I am not a lawyer though so I will let someone who knows more than I do advise you as to what steps to take.
    'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

    Comment


      #3
      You should without delay contract your local authority who will have an officer (often called a Tenancy Relations Officer) designated to deal with exactly this sort of problem.

      Comment


        #4
        As lawcruncher says, you can report the landlord to the Tenancy Relations officer (or it might be a similar title such as Private Tenancies officer) at the local council. It is the local council who bring criminal prosecutions for illegal harassment or eviction.

        If anyone actually threatens you, then report this to the police, too.

        If the harassment is serious, and/or if you are illegally evicted, you might also have a case to bring a civil claim for damages. You would need to get legal advice for this.

        It's a good idea to keep a diary of events; e.g. dates of visits from the henchmen and notes of what they said/did, etc.

        Minor point; but if rent is due every four weeks in the contract, then the landlord can't legally demand to receive it every fortnight.

        With regard to the disrepair, you can report the landlord to the environmental health officer at the local council. They would then come to inspect, and advise the landlord of the works she must carry out. If she still fails to do the repairs, then the council may do the repairs and charge the cost to the landlord.

        What type of tenancy do you have? Is it an assured shorthold tenancy in England/Wales?

        Comment


          #5
          See..

          http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1977/43/section/1

          1 Unlawful eviction and harassment of occupier. E+W

          (1)In this section “residential occupier”, in relation to any premises, means a person occupying the premises as a residence, whether under a contract or by virtue of any enactment or rule of law giving him the right to remain in occupation or restricting the right of any other person to recover possession of the premises.

          (2)If any person unlawfully deprives the residential occupier of any premises of his occupation of the premises or any part thereof, or attempts to do so, he shall be guilty of an offence unless he proves that he believed, and had reasonable cause to believe, that the residential occupier had ceased to reside in the premises.

          (3)If any person with intent to cause the residential occupier of any premises—

          (a)to give up the occupation of the premises or any part thereof; or

          (b)to refrain from exercising any right or pursuing any remedy in respect of the premises or part thereof;

          does acts calculated to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household, or persistently withdraws or withholds services reasonably required for the occupation of the premises as a residence, he shall be guilty of an offence.

          [F1(3A)Subject to subsection (3B) below, the landlord of a residential occupier or an agent of the landlord shall be guilty of an offence if—

          (a)he does acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household, or

          (b)he persistently withdraws or withholds services reasonably required for the occupation of the premises in question as a residence,

          and (in either case) he knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that that conduct is likely to cause the residential occupier to give up the occupation of the whole or part of the premises or to refrain from exercising any right or pursuing any remedy in respect of the whole or part of the premises.

          (3B)A person shall not be guilty of an offence under subsection (3A) above if he proves that he had reasonable grounds for doing the acts or withdrawing or withholding the services in question.

          (3C)In subsection (3A) above “landlord”, in relation to a residential occupier of any premises, means the person who, but for—

          (a)the residential occupier’s right to remain in occupation of the premises, or

          (b)a restriction on the person’s right to recover possession of the premises,

          would be entitled to occupation of the premises and any superior landlord under whom that person derives title.]

          (4)A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

          (a)on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £400 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both;

          (b)on conviction on indictment, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.

          (5)Nothing in this section shall be taken to prejudice any liability or remedy to which a person guilty of an offence thereunder may be subject in civil proceedings.

          (6)Where an offence under this section committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager or secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate or any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the body corporate shall be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
          Disgraceful behaviour... as above, contact council or also Shelter 0808 800 4444
          8am-8pm Monday-Friday
          8am-5pm Saturday-Sunday

          http://england.shelter.org.uk/

          - but they are a charity, lots of demands, not enough staff so you may have a wait...

          Hope it works out: You have right & the law on your side
          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


            #6
            thankyou for your replies.

            it is in england, is oral and by default an assured tenancy.

            i have not been directly threatened but was encouraged to pay cash despite my objecting. additional money was taken as they decided to add a rent increase and backdate it.
            because i did pay i worry that i have added legitamacy toward their approach.
            i carried on paying but reported the disrepair to my local council. they in turn contacted her and began making some progress.
            the progress stalled and my landlord presented me with notice seeking possession of the property.

            it seems that she knows how to play the system.

            the letters continue to come and continue to be posted by hand at strange times.
            i did visit the police and took the letters with me hoping that they would ask her to stop intimidating but they insisted it is a civil matter and could not intervene.

            i am keeping an acurate diary of events and have witnessess where i think sensible. i even had security installed which my landlord discovered while sneaking about the property in the small hours. she then wrote insisting it be removed.

            the main reason i need to ask if this is harassment is that the extent is long winded but subtle. there are further associated irregularities with character assassination also apparent. i am aware that my landlord is attempting to influence opinion among my neighbours whom fortunately keep me informed.

            i have contacted shelter in order to help me defend against eviction, they are helpful but also quite overwhelmed.

            the property remains in desperate need of repair but my landlord insists that the eviction proceedure now removes her obligation to assist.

            Comment


              #7
              i have read the text from and link to the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and it would appear to cover my situation.

              having never gone through an eviction process before i wonder would i defend myself using this act or would i need to persue a prosecution or maybe i am missing the point and the two become interlinked?

              Comment


                #8
                Initially, you would get the council to prosecute in the criminal courts for illegal eviction. In the longer term, you could sue for damages yourself in the civil courts.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by domonic View Post
                  it is in england, is oral and by default an assured tenancy.
                  Do you mean an assured tenancy or an assured shorthold tenancy? What date did you first move in?

                  my landlord presented me with notice seeking possession of the property.
                  What does the notice actually say? Does it mention s.8 or s.21 Housing Act 1988?

                  i did visit the police and took the letters with me hoping that they would ask her to stop intimidating but they insisted it is a civil matter and could not intervene.
                  The police are notoriously unhelpful when it comes to tenant harassment - you must instead contact the Private Tenancies/Tenancy Relations officer at the local council.

                  the main reason i need to ask if this is harassment is that the extent is long winded but subtle.
                  Subtle harassment is still harassment.

                  i have contacted shelter in order to help me defend against eviction
                  If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, then ultimately the landlord will be able to evict you by legal procedure within a period of 4-6 months. If it's not an AST, then it's much less easy or straightforward for LL to legally evict.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by domonic View Post
                    i have read the text from and link to the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and it would appear to cover my situation.

                    having never gone through an eviction process before i wonder would i defend myself using this act or would i need to persue a prosecution or maybe i am missing the point and the two become interlinked?
                    The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 basically says that a landlord can't evict a tenant without obtaining a court order. If he tries to force you out by other means (such as threats, or cutting off the electricity, or physically throwing you out, etc) then it's illegal eviction, which is a criminal offence. So the Act is relevant only if the landlord fails to follow the legal procedure to evict you.

                    There are two types of court; criminal and civil. You personally cannot prosecute the landlord for (criminal) illegal eviction; it would be the local council who would do that. But you personally could separately bring a civil claim for damages (i.e. compensation) for illegal eviction (but you'd need to get proper legal advice for that).

                    The legal procedure for eviction is based on different laws, and requires the landlord to firstly serve a valid notice on the tenant, then after the notice expires follow up with an application to the court for an order for possession. Whether this application succeeds or not depends on various factors. It's impossible to advise further without knowing what type of tenancy you have - and firstly we need to know what date you moved in.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      thanks again for your help.

                      it is an Assured Tenancy and began in spring 1996. 1 month advance rent was paid and a bond. i recieved a reciept but no further instruction, inventry or other paperwork at that time.

                      the notice is S.8 ground 1 in schedule 2 and says that the landlord lived here before us and intends to move back into the property to use as her main residence.
                      i believe she is also keeping her current property.
                      i havnt been able to find anything to support her ever living here but i have traced previous occupants dating back to the mid 80s.

                      i continue to pay the rent and this in itself appears to frustrate my landlord as she often denies recieving my cheque though i do take every precaution and i have it witnessed. it becomes clear from her actions that she is actively attempting to invent arrears in order to discredit me later, although unbeknown to her i keep a thorough record to protect myself from this.

                      would illegal eviction be applicable as i do remain in the property and intend to continue doing so?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by domonic View Post
                        thanks again for your help.

                        it is an Assured Tenancy and began in spring 1996. 1 month advance rent was paid and a bond. i recieved a reciept but no further instruction, inventry or other paperwork at that time.
                        1996 - unlikely to be "Assured", more likely "Assured Shorthold"
                        the notice is S.21 and says that the landlord lived here before us and intends to move back into the property to use as her main residence.
                        No reason required for s21, therefore previous residency is a red herring
                        i continue to pay the rent and this in itself appears to frustrate my landlord as she often denies recieving my cheque though i do take every precaution and i have it witnessed. it becomes clear from her actions that she is actively attempting to invent arrears in order to discredit me later, although unbeknown to her i keep a thorough record to protect myself from this.
                        No reason required for s21, therefore potential rent arrears are another red-herring.
                        i do remain in the property and intend to continue doing so?
                        Presuming it is an Assured Shorthold, the landlord will ultimately be able to gain possession of the property through section 21 of the 1988 Act. You can not stay regardless. Once a court order is obtained, if you ignore it then court bailiffs will remove you. This in itself isn't harassment - it is merely the landlord exercising his legal rights.

                        There are obviously some disturbing aspects to your situation, but with regard to eviction, if the landlord follows due process, you WILL be evicted eventually. It might be better to start looking now so that you can find somewhere nice with a more reasonable landlord and lay down some new roots. When you do move, you must remember that when you sign a contract for 6 or 12 months, that is the only guaranteed period of tenancy you have. That doesn't mean you'll be thrown out - just that it is a possibility.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          sorry Snorkerz i got the title of the notice wrong.
                          it is actually S.8 and not S.21.
                          thats what hours of reading through the forums has done its confused me.

                          just checked the notice and its Section 8 ground 1 schedule 2 Housing Act 1988.

                          it is an "Assured Tenancy" as it arose prior to a particular date and without documents that would have made it "Shorthold".

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by domonic View Post
                            it is an Assured Tenancy and began in spring 1996. 1 month advance rent was paid and a bond. i recieved a reciept but no further instruction, inventry or other paperwork at that time.
                            Correct. If a tenancy started between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 and no s.20 notice was served prior to the tenancy commencing, then it is an Assured tenancy. (And s.21 procedure - i.e. the easy route to evict an assured shorthold tenant - doesn't apply).

                            the notice is S.8 ground 1 in schedule 2 and says that the landlord lived here before us and intends to move back into the property to use as her main residence.
                            Here's the full wording of the ground.
                            Ground 1
                            Not later than the beginning of the tenancy the landlord gave notice in writing to the tenant that possession might be recovered on this ground or the court is of the opinion that it is just and equitable to dispense with the requirement of notice and (in either case):
                            (a) at some time before the beginning of the tenancy, the landlord who is seeking possession or, in the case of joint landlords seeking possession, at least one of them occupied the dwelling-house as his only or principal home; or
                            (b) the landlord who is seeking possession or, in the case of joint landlords seeking possession, at least one of them requires the dwelling-house as his, his spouse’s or his civil partner's only or principal home and neither the landlord (or, in the case of joint landlords, any one of them) nor any other person who, as landlord, derived title under the landlord who gave the notice mentioned above acquired the reversion on the tenancy for money or money’s worth.
                            You'll note that to use the ground the landlord must have served notice back in 1996 (which she didn't) OR the court would have to be convinced that it's "just and equitable" to dispense with the requirement for notice. I'm not sure of the circumstances in which the court would decide to dispense with the requirement for notice, and is is notoriously difficult to evict Assured tenants, but it is essential that you seek professional legal advice to defend this application.

                            If you can't afford a solicitor, try contacting
                            http://www.communitylegaladvice.org.uk/en/legalaid/
                            http://www.lawcentres.org.uk/

                            (If you can afford a solicitor, make sure they are specialist in landlord & tenant law).


                            would illegal eviction be applicable as i do remain in the property and intend to continue doing so?
                            Read the excerpt from the Protection from Eviction Act posted by theartfullodger above.

                            i continue to pay the rent and this in itself appears to frustrate my landlord as she often denies recieving my cheque though i do take every precaution and i have it witnessed. it becomes clear from her actions that she is actively attempting to invent arrears in order to discredit me later
                            Quite likely, because if there is more than two months' rent owing and unpaid, this would enable her to use Ground 8, which is a mandatory ground.

                            Why not pay the rent by standing order? That way the landlord can't claim she didn't get the cheque (time the order to arrive in the LL's account on the actual day it is due).

                            Is the LL cashing the rent cheques? Getting a witness is all very well, but how is this witness going to remember every single cheque delivered?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Repairs

                              Also contact the local environmental health officer who will inspect and serve notice on the landlord re repairs.

                              And when his heavies call next time, you DIDNT realise the computer webcam was still on and recording did you? Happy accidents happen all the time.
                              Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

                              Comment

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