Is a tenancy voidable as fraud if tenant lies on application?

by Readers Question

10:33 AM, 13th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Is a tenancy voidable as fraud if tenant lies on application?

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Is a tenancy voidable as fraud if tenant lies on application?

If a tenant told lies when they applied for a property, and these lies contributed to the landlord’s decision to offer them the tenancy, then the tenancy was obtained by fraud.lies

If the tenancy was obtained by fraud, then I believe that the contract (tenancy) becomes voidable (it is a “voidable contract”, i.e. it is valid until such time as the person who is the victim of the fraud (the landlord) chooses to make the contract (tenancy) void. Can any of the legal minds on here confirm this, and also specify how the landlord makes the tenancy void, e.g. simply send a letter to the tenant saying this?

Once the tenancy has been voided, am I right in thinking that there is then no valid tenancy and thus the “tenant” (now ex-tenant) can no longer benefit from the legal protections within the Protection of Eviction Act? If so, does this mean that the landlord can simple go in and change the locks (while the “resident” is out)?

Many thanks

Robert



Comments

Joan Deal

12:06 PM, 13th July 2015
About 3 years ago

I have just been through this. Tenant gave fraudulent references. I had to go through the eviction process as he didn't pay rent. At no time did anyone mention that the tenancy could be voided. There is a ground for eviction under section 8, ground 17, which refers to gaining a tenancy through false representation but it's discretionary rather than mandatory so I was advised it was better to wait for two months arrears to accrue so I could also go for mandatory grounds. I dealt with Landlord Action, I'm sure they would have said if there was an easier way. Tenant has left property now and been charged with fraud by false representation by the police.

Luke P

12:36 PM, 13th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Ooh...interesting. I look forward to the responses.

Robert Mellors

12:52 PM, 13th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joan Deal" at "13/07/2015 - 12:06":

I think this happens a lot (particularly with DSS tenants), and I know it has happened to me many times, so I'm now putting wording in my housing application forms to make it clear that I will consider any tenancy/licence to be voidable at will if granted due to a fraudulent application. I've also amended the "declaration" part of the occupancy agreement as well, and added it as a new clause in the section on ending of the tenancy/licence, so that the application and the occupancy agreements both reflect this position.

Robert Mellors

12:54 PM, 13th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joan Deal" at "13/07/2015 - 12:06":

Perhaps Landlord Action did not consider this possibility, as it stems from contract law rather than landlord and tenant law, (but a tenancy is merely a type of contract).

Sam Addison

13:17 PM, 13th July 2015
About 3 years ago

If the tenancy is voided do you not have a squatting situation instead? I would be very hesitant over going down this route.

Ian Ringrose

17:57 PM, 13th July 2015
About 3 years ago

What about using a Private prosecution for fraud?

Robert Mellors

18:48 PM, 13th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "13/07/2015 - 17:57":

If simply wanting to prosecute the tenant then yes you could do that, but I don't think it would allow the landlord to get their property back any quicker or limit the costs incurred as a result of the fraud.

Joan Deal

18:49 PM, 13th July 2015
About 3 years ago

This wasn't DSS. I'm a first and last time, I hope, landlord so was guided by letting agent about contract wording etc. Refs got past referencing agency, which turned out to have done a rubbish job. I suppose it depends whether tenancy agreements are covered by contract law or the Rent Act. Maybe a lawyer can advise?

Ian Ringrose

19:04 PM, 13th July 2015
About 3 years ago

I thought that tenant being found guilty of a crime related to the property was now a grounds for eviction....

Robert Mellors

19:23 PM, 13th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "13/07/2015 - 19:04":

Perhaps so, but how does it speed up the process of eviction, or limit the costs (losses) of the landlord? Surely if bringing a private criminal prosecution for fraud, this will take time and money, and if this is what you want to rely on as the basis for eviction, then that must surely delay the point at which a s8 or s21 Notice could be served, and consequently delay the possession claim court date and the date on which the landlord eventually gets the property back.

It also adds an extra court case, instead of finding a way of avoiding court proceedings altogether (as I believe could be the case if the tenancy contract is voided). However, it does perhaps raise the point as to what standard of proof is required before being able to void the tenancy contract.

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