Onus of proof for tenancy start date prior to Automatic Assured Shorthold Tenancies

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    Onus of proof for tenancy start date prior to Automatic Assured Shorthold Tenancies

    I am aware the law changed in Feb 1997 to bring in ASTs. I moved into my tenancy circa that date, I believe couple months prior to but I have no proof. Never been any tenancy agreement. For certain reasons I think Landlord probably unlikely to have record of when I moved in or have a clue how long I've been there.

    Check of electoral register doesn't proof I was or wasn't there upon that date. Landlord has indicated he would like to sell now with vacant possession (I offered to buy but he wants price considerably above market value). He has not issued Notice to Quit yet. I would argue that I am an assured tenant. In that case Landlord shouldn't have any grounds for eviction as I have been model tenant throughout. Question therefore is the Judge likely to declare me an AST due to me not having proof of start date or would it be down to the landlord to prove I wasn't there prior to the law change? Does anyone know of any cases that have dealt with this issue?

    I hope to be able to move out within a year anyway once I have saved up enough to buy and made arrangements for relocating my business etc. I'd rather not have to move in the interim as it would be highly difficult and distruptive for me to do so for various reasons. I thought of mentioning to him that I'll plan be gone within a year but I am reluctant to do so as I am concerned that if he wants possession sooner then that might alert him to the fact that I haven't got proof of when I moved in and thus give him confidence to initiate the eviction process (and he might not believe I plan to move out). What would you advise?

    #2
    Also should mention just in case relevant, landlord has never done things like gas safety checks (not a single one I had to pay a plumber myself to do it) and requests for repairs have always been fobbed off thus I have ended up maintaining the property pretty much myself as best I could throughout the tenancy. This is also why I wouldn't want to stay in the longer term as the upkeep is getting too much for me and finding I am spending too much time on maintenance tasks dealing with damp etc when time would have been better spent working on my business! (Of course I never pushed for repairs to be done for fear of eviction seems as I didn't have proof of moving in date).

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      #3
      Difficult.

      Think you need to keep finding evidence - maybe bank account addresses, utility bills, letters you may have written to others, friends testament etc etc etc.

      Neighbours? Work records? BT account? Anything.

      Landlord can sell - your tenancy stays same just a new landlord.

      Landlord would need to issue s21 that you would challenge - either get a specialist landlord/tenant solicitor or call Shelter 0808 800 4444.

      S21 needs at least 2 months so no rush.

      Keep finding that evidence! Some landlords might lie in such circumstances....

      Cheers!
      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...

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        #4
        Thanks. The problem is I watched one of those reality programmes about hoarders a couple of years ago and unfortunately that 'inspired' me to clear out years worth of the old paperwork I had been 'hoarding' up in the attic! So little paperwork remains, I can get close to the date, about a year too late though! Might possibly be able to get the ex who lived here with me for the first year to sign something to say when he thinks we moved in. Wasn't working way back then, benefits etc in his name at the time, so that makes it difficult getting proof from authorities.

        I think that its most likely to come down to landlord saying I moved in after and me saying I moved in before that date. In which case will the judge rule for me or him, which one of us is supposed to prove when I moved in? Or is it just down to the judge's discretion who he believes/feels sympathy for? I did go and ask a solicitor recently but she couldn't tell me what the likely outcome would likely to be.

        I wouldn't mind having another landlord, I am sure it would be an improvement! But current landlord obviously wants to get as much from the sale as he can.

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