PDA

View Full Version : landlord harassment.



LLextrodinaire
21-12-2009, 13:18 PM
I let out a property to three lodgers (separate agreements) who have been tenants for over three months. Their agreement is only signed with me, as my ex partner abandoned the house and left me to deal with a mortgage that I couldn't pay on my own.
My ex is now back on the scene demanding rights to go and inspect the property on boxing day. I have advised him, after discussions with the lodgers, that this is not an appropriate day, being a saturday and a bank holiday and to please advise of an alternative, mutually convenient day to inspect. Also, I conduct monthly inspections and this months has already been completed.

My tenants are saying they will sue for landlord harassment if he turns up and causes trouble on this day (not all of them will be in) but also that they have been fielding calls from his creditors since they moved in as he refuses to give them, or the lodgers, forwarding details such as telephone numbers and an address.

Anyone know what would happen if they do this? Will it affect me? Are we classed as 2 joint landlords, or one "landlord body"?

westminster
21-12-2009, 13:24 PM
Do you live in the house with the 'lodgers'? Whose name is on the title deeds of the property? Is the property in England/Wales?

LLextrodinaire
21-12-2009, 13:38 PM
No i do not live there any more. The property is in England, and mine and my ex's names are on the deeds and mortgage, although he left the property, refuses to pay anything towards it, and has been uncontactable by myself or the lodgers.
He also sent an e-mail to me requesting this viewing, not directly to the lodgers, and although I have liaised with the lodgers verbally, my ex did not send the request directly to them - might they bring us up on this?

thevaliant
21-12-2009, 13:42 PM
As an aside, don't refer to them as lodgers. They aren't as they have the property to themselves (you don't live there anymore).

I can't really offer any advice. Might be time to consider getting out of the game altogether and forcing a sale of the property perhaps?

westminster
21-12-2009, 14:44 PM
No i do not live there any more. The property is in England, and mine and my ex's names are on the deeds and mortgage...

He also sent an e-mail to me requesting this viewing, not directly to the lodgers, and although I have liaised with the lodgers verbally, my ex did not send the request directly to them - might they bring us up on this?

Regardless of what it may say on the contracts you used, the tenants are not lodgers, they are assured shorthold tenants. However, you say they are on separate contracts, which means they probably only have exclusive possession of their bedrooms, not of the shared communal areas.

Your ex-partner should have been named as a co-landlord on the contracts, however, this doesn't invalidate the tenancies.

What it all boils down to is that you or your ex-partner are not entitled to gain access to T's bedrooms without their express consent, but you don't need the T's permission to access the communal areas, though preferably the landlord (you and/or ex-partner) should give reasonable notice in advance. Notwithstanding this, your ex-partner is not allowed to harass the T by "causing trouble". T harassment is a serious offence and may lead to heavy fines; if you are not directly involved I'm not sure whether you could be held responsible for your ex's behaviour, but you should do everything you can to protect the Ts from any potential harassment.

Boxing Day is an inappropriate and unreasonable time to make an inspection and you have advised your ex of this (it's irrelevant that he did not contact T directly). If he insists, and you think there is likely to be trouble, call the police and ask for an officer to attend with you at the appointed time.

Did the Ts pay you deposits and if so are they protected in a scheme? Does the house have a gas boiler/appliances and if so have you obtained a gas safety certificate?

LLextrodinaire
21-12-2009, 14:45 PM
ok, my tenants (I'll get there eventually!)
I'm stuck with having to have tenants in the property either way until my ex either agrees to sell the house and we then sell it, or until I have taken him to court to get him to agree the sale, and then again until the house is sold.
If there are no tenants, I cannot pay the mortgage, and if I cannot pay the mortgage then the house will get repossessed before it is sold. I am more than happy with the tenants I have, and they are more than happy with me, they just disagree with how my ex is behaving.

I'm not sure which is worse, repossession or leasehold issues, I have been led to believe it's the former! :-S

westminster
21-12-2009, 14:52 PM
I'm stuck with the tenants either way until my ex either agrees to sell the house and we then sell it, or until I have taken him to court to get him to agree the sale, and then again until the house is sold.
If I get rid of the tenants, I cannot pay the mortgage, and if I cannot pay the mortgage then the house will get repossessed before it is sold.
You're stuck with the tenants until the end of their fixed term. How long is it; six months, 12 months?

edit: and I think you missed my previous post.

theartfullodger
21-12-2009, 14:53 PM
As tenants did they give deposits and were those deposits protected?? If not S21 notice is invalid...

You might want to point out to your ex-partner that "inspections", apart from the tenants being able absolutely to refuse them, are, ..

a)


“Protection from Eviction Act 1977”
Section 1
Unlawful eviction and harassment
s.1(3A) (as was amended by the Housing Act 1988) which states:
"the landlord of a residential occupier or an agent of the landlord shall be guilty of an offence if he does acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household."
The individual carrying out any inspection will be personally criminally liable, and could face arrest by the police on the above charge. Likewise the agency as a corporate entity may face criminal investigation.
Also any attempt to enter the premises without your consent will treated as, as a matter of civil law:
a. trespass; and
b. a breach of the quiet enjoyment clause under the tenancy agreement.

and...
b) Landlord & Tenant act 1985 Sections 8 & 11 point out the inspection is only to establish the place is fit-for-human-habitation, not to complain about untidiness, scruffy tenants, piles of rubbish or inappropriate behaviour///

I think the partner may have a case for complaining about your taking all the rent, as clearly as part-owner he is entitled to his (pro-rata) share...

You do have Landlord insurance?? Otherwise, if it burns down, no payout probably...

Cheers!

Lodger

LLextrodinaire
21-12-2009, 15:06 PM
Thanks westminster - I did, but that was in a reply to the guy before you anyway!
can I really contact the police about this? Won't ex just say that it is his right to enter the property for an inspection given that he has given 24hours notice!? Won't they just laugh in my face?! Wow, I shall have to think about that.
The tenants say they are quite happy to cite my ex as the sole instigator of any trouble if he causes it, especially as I have tried to negotiate getting an alternative day of inspection in January when its more convenient. Just don't know whether the courts would see it that way - they are ok to refuse him entry to the property aren't they?

Does the fact he has not given them a contact number and address mean anything either (i.e in case the tenants are unable to get in contact with me), especially as, prior to some of the tenants moving in, we had a visit from the bailiffs regarding a debt that he owed, and his numerous creditors are still ringing the house even though they've been informed he no longer lives there!

LLextrodinaire
21-12-2009, 15:14 PM
thanks Artfullodger - I shall use that quotation to my advantage. I hope therefore an alternative date can be arranged for this inspection.

Does it mean anything that I have an e-mail from my ex saying that he is happy for me to look after the management of the property - i.e. has he, in effect, appoined me as the agent to do the inspections on a regular basis?

westminster
21-12-2009, 18:51 PM
can I really contact the police about this? Won't ex just say that it is his right to enter the property for an inspection given that he has given 24hours notice!? Won't they just laugh in my face?! Wow, I shall have to think about that.
No, they won't laugh in your face. Your ex may well say that he has a right to enter, but if he behaves in a threatening manner this would be harassment.


they are ok to refuse him entry to the property aren't they?
Not if they are on three separate contracts and do not therefore have exclusive possession of the whole house. As I said, the Landlord does have a right to access the communal areas, with reasonable notice given.


Does the fact he has not given them a contact number and address mean anything either (i.e in case the tenants are unable to get in contact with me) The T is only entitled to one contact address.


....especially as, prior to some of the tenants moving in, we had a visit from the bailiffs regarding a debt that he owed, and his numerous creditors are still ringing the house even though they've been informed he no longer lives there!
Completely irrelevant to the situation.

Please answer the questions about deposits and gas safety.

westminster
21-12-2009, 18:54 PM
Does it mean anything that I have an e-mail from my ex saying that he is happy for me to look after the management of the property - i.e. has he, in effect, appoined me as the agent to do the inspections on a regular basis?
You're one of the landlords. You can't be an agent for, and act on behalf of, yourself.

westminster
21-12-2009, 19:18 PM
thanks Artfullodger - I shall use that quotation to my advantage. I hope therefore an alternative date can be arranged for this inspection.

It is important that you are aware that not all of artfullodger's quotation is quoted from statute. This bit is statute:



"....s.1(3A) (as was amended by the Housing Act 1988) which states:
"the landlord of a residential occupier or an agent of the landlord shall be guilty of an offence if he does acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household."

And you should note that it only applies if your ex "does acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort...etc". Carrying out an inspection of the communal areas doesn't automatically or in itself constitute harassment.

This second bit isn't statute, it's just a forum member's comment on another thread, and is misleading as it implies that in your case any inspection makes your ex criminally liable, but it has been taken completely out of context.


"The individual carrying out any inspection will be personally criminally liable, and could face arrest by the police on the above charge. Likewise the agency as a corporate entity may face criminal investigation."
The comment was posted in another thread where a T had exclusive possession of the whole property, was not being given proper notice for inspections, and the agent was entering the property with their set of keys without the T's permission, i.e. an entirely different situation to yours.

agent46
22-12-2009, 16:51 PM
Can I just point something out....

For an act to constitute a criminal offence, it must be accompanied by mens rea. Almost every piece of advice relating to harassment I have read on this forum omits consideration of the mens rea required under the 1977 Act.

If an adviser doesn't know what mens rea is in general, or they don't know what mens rea is required for this offence in particular, then that person may want to consider whether they should be posting advice on such matters.