I am a Sitting Tenant and don’t know what to do now my landlord has passed away

by Readers Question

6 months ago

I am a Sitting Tenant and don’t know what to do now my landlord has passed away

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I am a Sitting Tenant and don’t know what to do now my landlord has passed away

I am an assured or sitting tenant without a fixed rent since 1989. Although the rent has always been extremely reasonable.

The landlord died recently and the letting agents are asking to ‘inspect’ the property for 5-10 minutes. I have always maintained the property where I can myself, but there is chronic damp that worsens my asthma if I don’t use a dehumidifier everyday.

There are also holes in the floor and crumbling walls. I believe renovation would cost more than £10,000.

I have put off the inspection as I don’t know why they want to inspect.

How do I approach them?

Can they put up the rent to market rates even though the damp is unhealthy?

Can they evict me on the grounds of renovation without having me back?

I would be agreeable to a pay out for me to leave, but I have no idea how to talk to them.

Many thanks for any advice.

Vincent

Comments

Graham Bowcock

6 months ago

Dear Vincent
You need to establish the basis of your occupation, although whatever basis it seems you will have protection if it is not documented. You say you moved in during 1989; the key date is 15th January 1989 - did you move in before or afterwards. If before then you tenancy is under the Rent Act 1977, if after then the Housing Act 1988. For the former rent is protected by statue, for the latter the basis of rent is the market rent.

There would seem, to be no good reason not to let the agent inspect the property and they have every right to do so. A good agent will want to undertake periodic inspections.

Whichever basis of tenancy you have, repairs should be done by the landlord (save for minor internal repairs and decoration) so your landlord may be failing in their duties.

If you agree to leave for repairs make sure this is properly documented and confirmed that your tenancy is not ending.

I recommend that you meet the agent and outline the issues to see what they have to say. If you really find this a struggle then I suggest you engage a local chartered surveyor with experience of such matters to help you; they will quickly weigh up the issues and may attend a meeting for, perhaps £200-250 (depending where you live) and would be able to set your mind at rest.

Graham

Rob Crawford

6 months ago

I see no reason why you should not give access to the Managing Agent. There are some repair issues that you need bring to their attention. Graham's earlier response will help you determine the basis of your occupation. The meeting would be mutually beneficial as you need the repairs sorting and you need to know where you stand (who are the new landlords and what are their plans). So make sure the inspection is at a time when you are available, possibly with a learned friend. I suggest you do not entertain any change in the tenancy until you have spoken to a tenancy legal expert (Shelter of Citizens Advice) first. With this in mind, ask the Agent to document any proposals so that you can consider them in slow time. Do not be obstructive as this will not help. Best of luck.

Russell Thomas

6 months ago

The agent may need to inspect for probate.

Doilygal

6 months ago

If you’re frightened that your rent may increase to the market rate, but wish to find out a fair market rent, I suggest you contact and register with the Valuation Office Agency, VOA Housing Allowances, Wycliffe House, Green Lane, Durham, DH1 3UW. The landlord will then have to apply to them only once every two years to increase your rent, the amount of which you can appeal against. You should then request for a Rent Officer to inspect the property. They will then determine the improvements made by the landlord and by you and set a fair market rent accordingly.
Also, if your previous landlord was responsible for both external and internal repairs (no matter how small they are), ensure that these details are indicated on all and any rent increase application made - no matter what your new landlord has indicated. Do not accept any changes to your previous agreement, including, for example, who is responsible for the annual Landlord Gas Safety Record and the 5 year electric / PAT checks.
Finally, If you need to leave the property whilst repairs are being carried out, your landlord should find you alternative, decent, temporary accommodation at the same rent you are currently paying. Do NOT leave your rented property for repairs to be carried out unless you have a full, legal agreement in place with the new OWNER of the property (ie: your new landlord).


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