Compliance Conundrum when tenant won’t leave?

Compliance Conundrum when tenant won’t leave?

11:33 AM, 26th November 2020, About A year ago 20

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We purchased a converted property at auction 15 years ago. One flat was occupied with a tenant on an AST, and a low rent. The property was barely habitable then, and we assumed the tenant would move on, and we could refurbish. That has not happened.

The property has solid walls with no insulation, no roof insulation, single glazed, bare brick walls in parts (blown plaster, not a chosen look!). Very old wiring, bathroom, kitchen etc. We have asked the tenant to leave, but she refuses. It is also difficult to gain any access (we have no keys).

We know we will have to go down the Section 21 route, but what is the position in April when we do not have a valid EICR, waiting for the notice period and a court date, whilst the tenant remains in the property?

Many thanks

Brian



Comments

by Graham Bowcock

13:12 PM, 27th November 2020, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Mark Smith (Barrister-At-Law) at 27/11/2020 - 10:21
In order to work out if it's Assured or AST, you'd need to see the paperwork. From 1989 the default was Assured unless the parties opted out by serving an advance notice. If they did opt out then an AST was granted. The position was subsequently reversed so that the default is now an AST unless there is specific agreement to an Assured tenancy. I think this chnage was in 1997.

by Graham Bowcock

13:14 PM, 27th November 2020, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by brian gill at 27/11/2020 - 11:15
Tenancies prior to 15th January 1989 are "protected" tenancies, covered by the Rent Act 1977.

After that date you could grant an AST, by agreement, with the default being Assured. This was until 1997 when the default beacme an AST.

Therefore you need to know when the tenancy started and to see the relevant paperwork.

by David

13:20 PM, 27th November 2020, About A year ago

Actually, you need to know when the tenant first moved into the property, as the current paperwork won't necessarily be correct. Regardless of whether the tenant signed an AST agreement, it would not alter their original tenancy rights if these were greater by virtue of being an Assured Tenant or a rent act tenant.

by LaLo

14:42 PM, 27th November 2020, About A year ago

You could always put the rent up and see what happens!

by Landlord Phil

14:04 PM, 28th November 2020, About A year ago

I don't have the answer, but I wonder if this would work. You'll need legal advice to be sure though. If you've asked them to leave officially, and have a documented refusal, then that's the first stage done. Would it work to ask a court to evict them on the grounds of safety? Stating that it would be impossible to bring the place up to standard whilst people are living in it would be my preferred reasoning. If its proven to be dangerous, but the tenant refuses to leave, even after incentives have been offered, surely would give the court the power to quickly evict under current legislation? There is risk attached, so that's why I recommend getting legal advice before doing anything. You'd probably still need to hand over the money, but its preferable to a 30k fine.

by Martin S

20:19 PM, 28th November 2020, About A year ago

Speaking as a retired Environmental Health Officer (EHO), I've come across this situation before, and despite what many might think, in my experience most EHO's (Not Housing Officers) are reasonable people, looking for a sensible outcome to such situations, and are not looking to penalise others, unless they are being unreasonably uncooperative.
Also, as a Landlord (LL) of 30 years, I'm aware that the PRS environment is a pretty hostile one for LL's today, and would, as others have said, take legal advice on your situation before you do, or say, anything. It's obvious that, despite the uncooperative tenant, which makes matters difficult, you have been negligent, and kicking the can further down the road.
Having said that, if a LL had been proactive, and contacted me with this situation, I would 1st like to see what evidence there was to show how the situation had arisen, and how/when you had tred to contact the tenant, and vice versa. I would have followed this up with a visit to the premises to see conditions for myself, and carried out an assessment: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/housing-health-and-safety-rating-system-guidance-for-landlords-and-property-related-professionals
If what you say is correct re the conditions, it's obvious that something will have to happen, whether the tenant is entitled to remain resident or not. Depending on her tenancy, there is the chance that you might have to re-house her whilst works are carried out, and reinstate her when works are finished. You need to be aware, that any Judge isn't going to intentionally make someone homeless, especially during these Covid times, so don't make it appear that eviction is your main aim, although this might be what you would really like, given the situation you find yourself in.
Again, depending on the tenancy, after works, there could be the opportunity to raise the rent in line with the uprated conditions, and this is often where the tenant chooses to go, as the low rent incentive has gone.
In the 1st instance, I would ask your lawyer to write a letter to your tenant , with proof of delvery, stating that you are aware that issues need addressing at the property, and in order to remediate these, you will be attending with your builder (maybe the one who will do part, or all of the works) on a given date and time, with the option for the tenant to change this. If as you suggest, the tenant is generally uncooperative, then nothing can be gained from this, other than to highlight the reality of the situation to others.
If there is a nil response on all fronts, I would ask the Lawyer to write again, stating that you are intending to involve the local Environmental Health Dept, and ask them to carry out an inspection, and a schedule of required works. In my view, you need to be proactive, and not on the back foot, as they will be involved at some stage, and you are likely to get your knuckles rapped anyway in some way, so it's better that they hear from you 1st, with your request for their help in rectifying matters, rather than as a complaint from the tenant. As for Section 21, or any other leagl action at the moment, forget it, as you'll be doing yourself a disservice.

by Landlord Phil

23:00 PM, 28th November 2020, About A year ago

Seems like sound advice from a former professional to me. But the important thing we all seem to be focussing on, is professional, legal advice. A pathway to the end goal seems also the key. Anticipating the outcome seems important too. Good on you Martin, I'm pleased you decided to get involved in this discussion.

by Glenn Ackroyd

11:40 AM, 29th November 2020, About A year ago

Without any insulation, single glazed and old what is the EPC rating? If F or less, you'll have further works to do.

by Landlord Phil

11:58 AM, 29th November 2020, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Glenn Ackroyd at 29/11/2020 - 11:40
And that's exactly hy this tenant needs to leave. Good property standards = good tenants in the main. If they can't be forced to leave so a landlord can bring a property up to or beyond the required standard, the system is at fault, not the landlord. Try reworking this to another product or service. If a car manufacturer recalls a car but the owner refuses to bring it in, who's at fault? The driver is. Landlords should not face persecution for having good intentions without legal rights to be able to follow the regulations. It's simply unfair. The weighting of rights is so heavily biased to the tenant that a landlord can be prosecuted for someone else's actions, no matter how good the landlords intentions are. How is that right? It's right because the government want the PRS to exist only as large investors. Those that were encouraged in the 1980s are now the ones that 2020 politicians want to crush. It's an awful approach.

by Graham Bowcock

17:44 PM, 29th November 2020, About A year ago

Hi Brian

I know I commented before about the tenancy position, but I've taken another look at your post. If the tenancy is an AST, I don't think s21 will be available deu to the repairs required.

It seems odd that you have done nothing to the property for 15 years, but now want the tenant to move to faciliate the works.

The comments by Martin, the EHO, make total sense, but I would add that I think you need to have a good sit down with the tenant and go through what needs doing - especially the legal requierments.

I have dealt with many similar situations (mainly for a very large company that will remain nameless) and a pathway has to be found to get works done.

Paying people to go rarely works because you can't pay them enough. If they are on a very low rent, anywhere else they go will (obviously) be more expensive. They will (in their eyes) be out of pocket for many years to come. Trying to cover that will come at a steep price.

I have rarely completed deals for people to move just because the landlord wants them to move. We have usually ended up working around them to get improvements and works done as best we can.


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