PDA

View Full Version : We have rent arrears but L harasses us- what can we do?



sangina
24-03-2009, 10:08 AM
I am not a landlord but I need some of your advice as you all seem level headed people and if you do not fit into that category then I apologise! :)

We were previously living with a known attacker of a certain offence, we were renting a room from him but it was getting too dodgy so we approached the local council, after several months of battles with them they agreed to assist on the basis of my partners/my health being poor. We have an Assured Shorthold tenancy for which the local council assisted us to move into. The provided a deposit guarantee (which apparently only covers damages!) and a months rent. Both of which the landlord was prepared to accept, the landlord concerned was also prepared to wait for Housing Benefit. It was never our intention to remain on benefits for very long anyway.

To cut a long and sometimes boring story short we had our claim rejected due to me not having the full ID, when you are ex-homeless (we had been homeless for around2 years at this point) you do not carry everything round with you as you can lose things very easily. Anyway, a new claim was put in, I had my ID sorted so we assumed there would be no problems. The landlord has become 'pally-pally' with our housing officer and despite us asking for this communication to cease it is still going on!!!!!! The housing benefit claim is still being processed and with my health getting worse we are likely to becoming homeless due to that communication between the landlord and the housing officer. She feeds him information, information which is far from the truth at the best of times.

Landlord has served a Section 8, we are supposed to be going to court at the end of next month. It is our intention to vacate before the court date and the landlord is aware of this matter.

However, s/he has said to other tenants within the building that all s/he is concerned about is that s/he gets the flat back but is not chasing us for the rent we owe. S/he has cut the gas off (there are 4 flats and there are not individual gas controls it is one control for the whole of the building) claiming it is because we have not paid our bills to he/r when we have paid £10 per week for gas (we have just 3 radiators and hot water is electric as is the oven), the landlord has told all the other tenants that it is our fault. We also have had problems with our post, there is a communal postbox for which there is one key which is in the posession now of another tenant. We have important post we are waiting for so we intercept the postman daily. S/he has also used our rent arrears as a bargaining tool for getting electric cards. We are yet to see any utility bills, something this person promised several weeks ago. We have requested the water (metered) bill and the gas bill, these are yet to materialise.

I could go on but it is very upsetting. We have done everything we can to prevent the eviction but the landlord wants us out regardless, even if we manage to get the backdated rent. We have spoken with other previous tenants (one of whom is actually slepping rough because of the harrassment from the same landlord) and they have all said that the landlord concerned has a history of this kind of issue with tenants. We have done everything that the council has asked us to do in relation to the claim, we have also done everything the landlord has asked us to do.

We have harrassed the local council to see where our claim is at, all they will say is that it is being dealt with and there is a backlog. They know she wants us out and they are refusing to help us proceed in this matter. We just feel hopeless and helpless in this matter.

What would you do? I am asking this from both sides of the spectrum. I am sure some of you will agree with the way this person is behaving but surely s/he is committing a criminal offence every time s/he cuts off or refuses services to us based soley on the rent arrears.

Paul Gibbs
24-03-2009, 13:13 PM
Dealing with the rent issue LL will not be able to rely on ground 8 for possession if your benefits are sorted before the hearing and a backdated award is processed.

Your difficulty is I recall a case which held that failure to pay rent because benefits were being reassessed was not a sufficient excuse and if ground 8 is made out possession should be ordered. You need to press the council to sort this out ASAP.

The LL cutting off the gas supply is an act of harassment, however, you may not have sufficient cause to get an injunction (to prevent further harassment) because you often need a course of conduct (2 or more incidents).

You should be able to get an injunction to compel LL to turn gas on and to maintain the supply to the property.

It might be wise to get solicitors to make an urgent application to court, and possibly make the application within the existing proceedings - this might delay the eviction side of things (thus allowing you more time to sort out)

Paul Gibbs
24-03-2009, 15:28 PM
depending on your finances you may be eligible for Legal Aid. The costs of obtaining an injunction are usually high. From the information you have posted so far I would expect Legal Aid to be granted.

It is unacceptable that you have no gas supply so contact a solicitor urgently

sangina
25-03-2009, 09:53 AM
Paul,

Thank you for your response.

There have been at least three incidents in total since the end of last month. One being refusing us access to our post before another tenant empties the postbox, the postbox is communal and there is one key - we had been waiting for the post everyday then we get a memo stating that the landlord believes the mail has been tampered with!!!!! The second is electric supplies, we are on a prepay meter for which we purchase cards from the landlord - we asked her to provide one several weeks ago the response was 'And your rent has been due for 3 months' (we were 2 months in arrears at this point), a card was left but then it turned out to be dud. It was replaced but reluctantly. The third is the gas situation, our bedroom was as cold as outside last night.

We are too afraid to approach her through fear of comments.

sangina
25-03-2009, 09:55 AM
Also, we spoke to CAB yesterday who advised us that the LL needs speaking to by a solicitor, we are entitled to Legal Aid as well and are seeing someone Monday morning.

Paul Gibbs
25-03-2009, 10:44 AM
get them to make an urgent appliction for legal aid (form CLSAPP6) the LSC should decide on the application within 24 hours.