A Tenants Perspective

by Readers Question

8:03 AM, 12th March 2014
About 6 years ago

A Tenants Perspective

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A Tenants Perspective

Would you guys mind giving me a landlords perspective on a tenancy problem my ex wife is experiencing at the moment?

She and my son have been tenants in a property for just over 3 years. There are no arrears and not one payment has ever been late. A Tenants Perspective

The landlord now wants to sell the property and has served notice to end the tenancy agreement. That’s fair enough and we understand. However, we have asked the agreement end 2 months later than stated to allow my son to finish his A levels and then they will move out, which was always the intention anyway.

The agent at first told my ex she could stay if she paid an extra £100 per month, which she asked they reconsider as this was blackmail. She did not refuse, just asked them to reconsider.

They then told her the end of agreement must stay.

The property does not have a buyer yet, my ex makes sure the place is tidy when viewers are due, yet the agent at least, still says they must move out as stated.

She doesn’t want to refuse to move out and force him into legal proceedings and is also willing to continue paying the rent for the extra 2 months, but he seems to want to force her into staying put and he then has to take legal action with the resultant time and costs involved.

What do you think she should do?

Thanks

David



Comments

Mark Alexander

8:19 AM, 12th March 2014
About 6 years ago

Hi David

Interesting question, this one has certainly got my brain cells working!

May I ask how long the property has been on the market for?

Is the letting agent also the estate agent by any chance? If he wasn't I suspect he would be more keen for the tenant to stay.

I do wonder who's calling the shots too. Perhaps the agent has advised the landlord that the best way to market the property is with vacant possession?

Is the landlord even aware that your ex is prepared to be reasonable, help with viewing and keep the place tidy? If I was the landlord I would want that to happen. A property which is lived in and kept tidy often shows much better than an empty one. What's more, no landlords like void periods (no income) as they still have bills to pay.

If possible,suggest to you ex that she finds out who the landlord is and invite him around for a cuppa. She can then explain her predicament and proposals. If the agent will not disclose the details of the landlord these can easily be obtained for a few pounds from HM Land Registry.

I recommend all of the above first because the last thing your wife will need is a bad reference from her landlord/agent. I also appreciate though that where needs must the devil drives.

Please bear in mind that the landlord is perfectly entitled to serve two months notice. If a tenant doesn't leave after the notice period then the landlord is entitled to obtain a Court order for possession. If such an order is not followed then balifs can be appointed to make a forceful eviction. The process typically takes to to four months after the two month (section 21) notice has been served. It is not a pleasent process for anybody and the legal costs will usually be ordered by the Courts for the tenants to pay. If they are not paid within 30 days your wife could also end up with a CCJ against her name which will adversely affect her credit for the next 6 years. She may also find herself on databases which could prevent her from renting from landlords who use them for many years to come. This is why I recommend amicable negotiation.

Please let me know how you get on. If the landlord and/or the agent continue to be unreasonable I will happily share a few more tips with you which may well influence their thoughts. I will not do so now though because they may disrupt your chances of peaceful negotiation and be seen as threats if you use the ideas at the wrong time.

If I was the landlord I would happily work with your ex and possibly even offer her an incentive if she could help me to sell the property by a certain date. It would make financial sense to do that.

Industry Observer

8:52 AM, 12th March 2014
About 6 years ago

If the Landlord lives in Spain is she paying the costs of his flights for this afternoon tea visit?!!

The answer is simple here, do nothing, as that is exactly what the agent and Landlord can do when the notice expires (first thing to do is check validity of the notice).

All they can then do is start proceedings and even if they use accelerated possession procedure you can complete the defence the Court papers will involve and that will delay it further. As and when there is a hearing you can advise the Judge the earliest date you can vacate, which by then will only be 3 or 4 weeks away. The Judge will almost certainly date any order for that date.

The other thing you do immediately is triple check the TDP papers my guess is the Prescribed Information will not be correct so you can tell the agent if they back off you will not make a section 213 claim for x3 the deposit which the agent will have to pay.

If the tenancy has lasted three years and went periodic during 2012 I'll bet the agent did not re-issue PI so they are very vulnerable.

Last point for Landlords who like periodic tenancies - this is why tenants like fixed terms, so they can't be out on their ear in 2 months (actually 5 months) when they are a perfect tenant

Robert Mellors

9:12 AM, 12th March 2014
About 6 years ago

Not sure where the Spanish landlord came into this, I must have missed this bit, but certainly if the landlord lives abroad (whatever the country) then it could be more difficult. However, I think Mark's suggestions are very reasonable, and as a landlord I do know that some letting agents do not give the full story to the landlord (or to the tenant) so if landlord and tenant can actually talk to each other and be reasonable and understand each other's needs (LL's need to sell and T's need to stay another 2 months) then an arrangement can probably be agreed.

By all means check your paperwork and prepare for the worst, but always aim for an outcome that suits both you and the landlord. Do not threaten the landlord, either with legal action or otherwise. Always remember that a good landlord reference can be very useful, and a County Court Judgement against you can severely limit your chances of accessing other accommodation, as well as making it much more difficult (and costly) to obtain credit in the future.

Industry Observer

9:29 AM, 12th March 2014
About 6 years ago

Robert it was a joke re inviting round for a cuppa.

Any bright ideas how tenant gets LL address from such an obstructive agent? Other than demanding it in writing courtesy s1 of 1985 L&T?

CCJ - it will never get that far the timings are all on the tenant's side

No threats - just facts. Tenant is being threatened with inconvenient eviction, so just ward off the evil spirits with the warning of a s213 claim if they persist.

Mind this agent sounds as though they won't know and won't care anyway.

Be interested to know exact tenancy end date versus final A level.

But here's a pint for everyone to mull over. If Landlord is selling and hasn't actually had a viewing yet, so it will take probably 5 months from now to get a completed sale, why wouldn't the Landlord want the rent for the extra 2/3 months from a tenant he knows will then vacate?

Answer again is the agent who clearly is not professional enough to give the LL good advice

Robert Mellors

9:55 AM, 12th March 2014
About 6 years ago

Tenant can get the details of the owner from the Land Registry website, it takes about 10 minutes to do and costs about £4.

A CCJ (money judgement) is only likely to happen if tenant leaves a debt, but if this happens then timings don't really come into it as the money judgement CCJ can be done many months (or even years) after the eviction. The type of CCJ arising from a possession order does not automatically create a CCJ that would affect credit rating (it is not even registered with the credit reference agencies or on the register held by the Registry Trust as far as I recall), but even so, it is certainly best to avoid court proceedings altogether if at all possible.

I would advise not using the "warning", as that could put the landlord's back up and make him less co-operative. Always look for the win:win scenario, and aim for that. Issuing threats or warnings is always a last resort.

I agree with both IO and Mark that it appears that the problem is with the letting/estate agents, rather than with the actual landlord, so if a channel of DIRECT communication can be established then it will be much easier to negotiate. As already stated, it is in the landlord's interest for the tenant to stay there looking after the property, showing potential buyers around, putting off vandals and squatters etc, so long as he can be assured of vacant possession at the time of completion of sale.

r01

10:02 AM, 12th March 2014
About 6 years ago

My take on this is it sounds like a classic greedy, grabbing Estate Agent. I suspect they don't want to wait for a further two months before they get their grubby little mitts on their sales commission. And, their view is probably if they HAVE to wait, then your ex can jolly well pay for it by caughing up another £100 a month - it's despicable and unfortunately only too common. If rent is paid via the agent, I'll also wager they haven't told the landlord about the extra £100 demand.......

The owner may well have no knowledge whatsoever of the situation so if you have a direct number for the property owner (if not you may be able to track the owner down via the Land Registry - it only costs a few pounds. If the owner previously lived in the property ask the neighbors as one is probably still in touch), I would suggest contacting them and explaining the situation politely first and perhaps make an offer he or she couldn't refuse such as making sure the place is as welcoming as possible for viewers and offering to extol the virtues of the place, maybe offer serious viewers a cup of tea/coffee etc. Remember, it takes around three months at least for most property sales to complete anyway and could quite easily take four - especially if there is a chain as is usually the case. There may also be a buy-to-let purchaser that would welcome your Ex staying on permanently. With your Ex staying there the owner will not have a rental void or have to pay council tax on an empty property - something worth pointing out.

Of course, if this doesn't work then the advise to stay in occupation remains, but your Ex must be seen to be above reproach by keeping the property in tip-top condition and paying all rent, bills etc., so the landlords/agents have no other grounds to evict. It takes many months for any case to come to court and if the rent is paid and the property is well looked after, what can the landlord claim for ? As a long-term landlord, I for one wouldn't bother to take a case as long as I had a firm date the tenant was going to move out and the rent was being paid.

R.

Industry Observer

10:05 AM, 12th March 2014
About 6 years ago

Land Registry details only useful if up to date and, of course, if Landlord is local. By the way enqwuiries are now completely free I think for registrations back to 2005 saw an industry press item on this last month.

My view on the s213 claim would simply be to make the agent aware of it and that if they do not stop pressurising - remember someone is revising for A levels and ancient though I am I can remember what that was like - and simply back off in exchange for which the tenant will not make said claim.

No popint having a nuclear deterrent unless the other side knows you have it even if you don't intend to press the red button.

Good point Robert of course the other withdrawal of cooperation is to refuse viewings of any nature until they have eventually vacated at the date of their choice.

Stephen Lesley

10:16 AM, 12th March 2014
About 6 years ago

This seems totally unreasonable by the landlord and more like a agencies doings.

That said, is the trouble worth £200.00 especially at such a crucial time in a child's education? I know £200 is a lot of anyones money, but in this situation isn't it worth biting the bullet and let the landlord or agent feel like an idiot. The tenant can alway write a review of the agency after she's relocated.

Has the LL given notice in writing of his/her intention to increase the rent? or is in a (un)gentleman's agreement? aAnd if he/she has can the tenant appeal to the powers that be?

Stephen Lesley

10:20 AM, 12th March 2014
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "r01 " at "12/03/2014 - 10:02":

The property being vacant and the LL having to pay Council Tax is a great approach. That's got to be a way forward in negotiation.

Robert Mellors

10:27 AM, 12th March 2014
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Industry Observer " at "12/03/2014 - 10:05":

I was referring to the withdrawal of co-operation by the landlord, but of course if the landlord (once contacted) is not willing to co-operate, then there is nothing to stop the tenant refusing to co-operate, e.g. not allowing potential buyers in to view the property, but again I would stress that this does not really help anyone, it just makes the problem worse and makes it far more likely that you would get a bad reference from the landlord. Remember, you may not need a reference now, but you may need one in the future, so always bear this in mind.

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