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View Full Version : Subletting/lodger tenant - what are my rights.



hello kitty_483
19-01-2010, 13:39 PM
Hi all, I need your help as it would appear that I am in imminent danger of losing the home that I have resided at for the past 4.5 years.

Back ground info is that the property is a housing association property in the name of a family friend. 5 years ago he decided he no longer wanted to live in this country and emigrated overseas leaving me responsible for the property including managing arrears of £2200 and what had now become a very downtrodden property.

During this period the HA were intent on evicting him both for the rent arrears and what was obvious to them as an absent tenant. Only with my intervention and payment of £1500 to clear the arrears and regular payments over and above the normal rent have matters become quiet on the HA front of late.

Now, yesterday out of the blue he turns up and serves me 1 month notice to get out of the property. No thank you for keeping up the rent payments or reducing the arrears to a level less than 8 weeks rent, just notice to get out.

I'm philosophical on these things and appreciate that I have had a reasonable place to stay over the past 4.5 years - even though I've completely redecorated the house from top to bottom.

My question; do I have any rights whatsoever?

I have kept records of every payment made and the utility bills are in my name.

I'm now loathed to continue making payments to the HA but am mindful that this will accelerate eviction and will mean that we are all out of a home. I just feel that it is very unfair but I accept life is not always fair.

Any thoughts and advice would be much appreciated.

Poppy
19-01-2010, 13:53 PM
The landlord was not resident, you are therefore a tenant. Your landlord must treat you as a tenant with an assured shorthold tenancy. If the landlord wishes to give you notice, it must be at least two months ending at the end of a rent period.

It was unwise of you to pay rent owing by the previous tenant. You did that voluntarily. Redecorating was also a voluntary action on your part and you are not entitled to be compensated.

Why have you accepted such a situation?

I would definitely stop paying rent to the housing association. That has always been your landlord’s responsibility or was that what you both agreed before he emigrated?

quarterday
19-01-2010, 14:19 PM
I do not agree with the previous posting. Continue to pay rent direct to the Housing Association who, by virtue of having accepted rent from you,would seem to have accepted you as a tenant and tell the gentleman who let you in that you are not willing to give up possession. You have acted to your disadvantage to pay yourself arrears which accrued when he was in occupation and this, arguably, estopps him from just evicting you.



I think you need to go to a Housing Advice Centre or Solicitor or CAB to obtain the services of specialist legal advice. there will be letters to write and a defence to serve if the gentleman tries to evict you. From what you have said therre was no suggestion that this was to be a temporary arrangement. At the very least if you are to yield up possession to the gentleman who has returned from abroad he should pay you (beforehand) the arrears that accrued before you took up occupation and possibly damages. If that gentleman had keys; change the locks as a precautionary measure.

You need to keep the Housing Association on side; hopefully they will favour you over the previous tenant who was a defaulter. You dont want the Housing Association to view you as agent for the original tenant.

Poppy
19-01-2010, 14:26 PM
Housing associations and councils don’t simply accept substituted tenants. They have criteria for choosing tenants. They have merely gone quiet about the arrears and suspected absenteeism.

If/when the returning landlord does things correctly and issues a section 21 notice it does not require any reason.

quarterday
19-01-2010, 14:43 PM
Housing associations and councils don’t simply accept substituted tenants. They have criteria for choosing tenants. They have simply gone quiet about the arrears and suspected absenteeism.

If/when the returning landlord does things correctly and issues a section 21 notice it does not require any reason.

The Housing Association may in point of fact be saddled with kitty as a result of accepting payments from her. Really they ought to have denied payments from her and obtained possession but by accepting rent and arrears from her she has a good and arguable case to remain in situ. She needs a good housing lawyer to fight her corner. I am by no means sure, with all respect that the chap who went abroad for five years can serve a s21 notice; it would depend on the terms of the lease that was granted to him as to whether any tenancy purportedly granted by him is valid. My view would be that the HA's agreement has been assigned.

Wot do our legal heavyweights in this forum think?

jeffrey
19-01-2010, 14:53 PM
Post #5 must be wrong. Old T still has a tenancy until it ends, one way or another, and kitty's rent payments do not alter that.

hello kitty_483
19-01-2010, 15:04 PM
Thanks for the advice and guidance. So it seems I have basic rights at best and 2 months notice is what I can expect from the reurning landlord provided a section 21 notice is served. Continuing to pay the rent is not advisable as I'm effectively covering the landlord payments.

The housing officer has met me at the house on numerous occasions and often encourages me to hand the keys in as she is aware that the tenant is absent.

For now I'll take your advice and seek legal advice and I may contact the HA for advice if it is forthcoming.

Thanks again for your help

Poppy
19-01-2010, 15:10 PM
Yes, by all means seek advice. However, you should expect that one or other of the returning landlord or the housing association will make moves to evict you. This is the time to find suitable alternative accommodation that you are happy with. You don't want to be rushed into accepting something equally as unsuitable, do you?

You should pay rent to your returning landlord. What did you and your landlord agree as to rent payments?

hello kitty_483
19-01-2010, 15:33 PM
Yes, by all means seek advice. However, you should expect that one or other of the returning landlord or the housing association will make moves to evict you. This is the time to find suitable alternative accommodation that you are happy with. You don't want to be rushed into accepting something equally as unsuitable, do you?

You should pay rent to your returning landlord. What did you and your landlord agree as to rent payments?

I expect my landlord or the HA will make moves to evict me but I hope I'll have my day in court. In the meantime, the search for alternative accomodation starts in earnest.

Paul Gibbs
19-01-2010, 15:35 PM
You may have a claim against the original tenant for the arrears you cleared for them. This will depend on what (if any) discussions there were regarding this.

Poppy
19-01-2010, 15:41 PM
Do you intend to share with the members what you initially agreed with the returning landlord with regard to your rent payments?

hello kitty_483
19-01-2010, 16:02 PM
Do you intend to share with the members what you initially agreed with the returning landlord with regard to your rent payments?

The returning landlord left the property with no intention of ever returning - it was 5 years ago! In that time he never once contacted me or the HA. All the steps I made were my choices including reducing the arrears and had no input from the landlord. Had I not paid the rent the landlord would have been evicted. The HA knew the landlord was absent and in fact issued two seperate notices to quit, the last in April 2009 - all the while I continued to make rental payments. No rent was paid to the landlord, it was paid to the HA direct.

I hope that clarifies things.

hello kitty_483
19-01-2010, 17:38 PM
Another question if I may;

The landlord doesn't have a key to the property, can he forcibly enter and change the locks?

Cheers

theartfullodger
19-01-2010, 18:07 PM
The landlord doesn't have a key to the property, can he forcibly enter and change the locks?

he can forcibly enter (anyone "can") but he may not (it would be, without court sanction, illegal...).

Trouble is, if he did, you're stuffed...

Can sue for illegal eviction, but that takes time, money & patience...

Did the Landlord pay his tax I wonder?? Would be respond to a threat to tell the tax-man?? Naughty thought, no-one would do that...

Cheers!

Lodger

Poppy
19-01-2010, 19:18 PM
Of course the landlord intended to return. Otherwise he would have informed the housing association that he was vacating, so that the property would go to other tenants of the housing association's choosing, that meet the housing association's criteria. The returnee clearly considers you to be his tenant. What did you think was going on? Didn’t you think it was odd not to pay rent to your landlord, but pay the housing association instead?

The landlord cannot forcibly enter and change the locks. You are an assured shorthold tenant with all associated rights. But your landlord probably did not have the authority to grant you such a tenancy in the first place.

It is my guess that once you either leave voluntarily or he obtains a court order to evict you, the housing association will evict him too.

quarterday
19-01-2010, 21:51 PM
I am not so sure, my view, although Jeffrey disagrees, is that she has been accepted as an assignee to the (presumably secure) tenancy granted by the housing association ie., quite possibly an assured tenant. At present it has not been disclosed here whether the departing tenant held an AT, AST or a tenancy under the Rent Acts, or indeed any other type of tenancy. Did the Housing Association specifically state that they were accepting payments from kitty as agents for the absconder? If not it is I suppose also arguable that they accepted her under what amounts to a new tenancy subject to her paying the previous tenants arrears. I think she should sit tight and if this matter goes to court there is at least a reasonable chance she will not be evicted. The HA might take a commercial view and regularise matters especially if the tenancy continues to be conducted on the basis of rent being paid and not returned. I hope she finds a good hot shot housing lawyer! Interesting question, incidentally, is whether the chap who went abroad broke the terms of the tenancy by parting with possession without consent? If so, and especially as the HA seem to have been aware of the situation this adds to the argument that Kitty was accepted under what amounts to a new common law tenancy. It has always been the case that she has had exclusive occupation and both the HA and the chap who went abroad cant really argue she was a licencee

Bel
19-01-2010, 22:13 PM
yes I hope Kitty finds a good lawyer if she is up for a fight to protect her home.

If she cannot find legal representation, but still wants to stay, she needs to adopt the confident and justified mentality that it is her home and she has every right to stay, and wait until someone rocks the boat which will either be the HA or more likely the returning landlord

An unqualified suggestion:>

She could start by playing bluff poker with the returning landlord by writing to him, stating that the HA has accepted her rent payments with full knowledge of the situation and therefore assigned the tenancy to her in his absence, and he has no rights to evict her as it is no longer his home. It is now her home as he abandoned it and his intention was never to return.
ANy attempt to evict unlawfully and the police will be called. Say you have already appraised the Police of the situation.(and do it if you fear the worst)

She could add a statement titled "without prejudice" that she would be prepared to quit the property if returning landlord paid the arrears of xxx that she made so that the tenancy could continue.


Change the locks/ improve security/put sign saying 'beware of the rottweiller' in the window with regular recorded barks being emitted from a speaker

hello kitty_483
20-01-2010, 09:04 AM
Thanks for the words of encouragement and guidance.

I've decided that I'm going to appoint the best lawyer I can afford and take the fight to my landlord. Despite the wise words of Poppy it remains my view that the landlord left the house with no intention of returning. He can of course deny that but I have evidence to the contrary that I will use if it ever gets to court.

The rent, at £550 a month , will soon get to an unmanageable level if I stop making payments so I'll be getting proffesional advice on this one in particular.

My attitude is that if I can't stay in the property why should my landlord? If I'm evicted so should he.

Thanks once again :)

quarterday
20-01-2010, 09:40 AM
I agree with Bel; save that I would say don't put anything in writing to the former occupier; just get yourself to a Housing advice centre, Law Centre or solicitor. Try to keep amicable with him and tell him, as is the case, that you are obtaining legal advice.

The longer this goes on the more likely it is in my view that the Housing Association are stuck with you! Keep paying the Housing Association; on the nail! How do you normally pay? If by cheque they cannot possibly deny with any force that they are unaware that they have been accepting rent from you. Whatever method you have used to pay rent stick with the same so that the likelihood of the landlord returning payments is minimised.

Incidentally, do they still write to the previous occupier at the property?

A good lawyer on your behalf will in my view be able to regularise a deal with the Association for you to stay. From what you say your conduct as far as the HA is concerned has been impeccable. If this matter does become litigious the presence of any dependant children (especially if you are a single parent) or a disability would in reality make it somewhat less likely that the HA will ultimately evict you.

hello kitty_483
02-02-2010, 08:54 AM
A quick update since I last posted.

Matters between myself and the landlord degenerated very quickly and culminated in a 9am ranting session on my doorstep on the Sunday before last. He was banging on the door and shouting;

"GET OUT OF MY HOUSE, GET OUT OF MY HOUSE"

I was pertrified and chose not to open the door and sat tight hoping he would tire and move on. He then called the Police and instructed them to remove me as I was 'intruding'.

The Police advised him that it was a civil matter, but the ranting was deemed as a breach of the peace. During the course of their normal enquiries it was then discovered that there was a warrant for the arrest of my landlord (benefit fraud) and he was taken away and I haven't heard anything since.

I took advice from Shelter and confirmed that I effectively had an AST with landlord, all be it an unauthorised one as the landlord hadn't sought approval from the HA for the sublet. My tenancy status is classed as a subtenant and my landlord would need to go through the normal notice periods etc to evict me. The HA could of course evict my landlord and would then have to evict me as a subtenant.

Last night I received a 'Notice to Quit' from the HA. They referred to me as 'The occupier' and noted that the notice expired on the 5th of March.

Would it be a waste of time approaching the HA.

Any other advice and guidance would be much appreciated.

Thanks

:)

Poppy
02-02-2010, 09:31 AM
How’s the search for suitable alternative accommodation going?

hello kitty_483
02-02-2010, 09:37 AM
How’s the search for suitable alternative accommodation going?

Quite well, thanks.

I sometimes forget that this is in fact 'landlordzone' but you do your best to remind me when you can.

Any other advice and help would be much appreciated.

:)

Bel
07-02-2010, 13:18 PM
A quick update since I last posted.

Matters between myself and the landlord degenerated very quickly and culminated in a 9am ranting session on my doorstep on the Sunday before last. He was banging on the door and shouting;

"GET OUT OF MY HOUSE, GET OUT OF MY HOUSE"

I was pertrified and chose not to open the door and sat tight hoping he would tire and move on. He then called the Police and instructed them to remove me as I was 'intruding'.

The Police advised him that it was a civil matter, but the ranting was deemed as a breach of the peace. During the course of their normal enquiries it was then discovered that there was a warrant for the arrest of my landlord (benefit fraud) and he was taken away and I haven't heard anything since.

I took advice from Shelter and confirmed that I effectively had an AST with landlord, all be it an unauthorised one as the landlord hadn't sought approval from the HA for the sublet. My tenancy status is classed as a subtenant and my landlord would need to go through the normal notice periods etc to evict me. The HA could of course evict my landlord and would then have to evict me as a subtenant.

Last night I received a 'Notice to Quit' from the HA. They referred to me as 'The occupier' and noted that the notice expired on the 5th of March.

Would it be a waste of time approaching the HA.

Any other advice and guidance would be much appreciated.

Thanks

:)

Sorry I haven't seen this update.

You do not have to rely on what Shelter tell you; did you speak to a lawyer with them?.

What did the notice say?

If you are on low income go to a solicitor and see if you entitled to legal aid. then you stand a chance of defending yourself. Especially as the HA have been accepting rent directly from you, creating a new tenancy (we hope).

Did you specifically point out to shelter that the HA was accepting rent directly from you with their knowledge?

Your choice whether to fight or just move out.

hello kitty_483
01-03-2010, 07:54 AM
A quick update and a further request for guidance and advice

The landlord has since applied to the local County court for possession of the property and, more importantly, is applying for an Interim Possession Order claiming that I am a tresspasser. The form also claims the following;


I was called away abroad due to the sudden ill health of my partner and on my return, I discovered that the defendant have unlawfully and without my consent moved into my home. I was shocked and surprised, I asked them to leave, they refused

This statement is of course preposterous given that he 'was called away' nearly 5 years ago and hasn't paid rent while away or advised the HA of his absence.

The possession hearing is due to be heard this Friday and I intend appointing a solicitor to assist with my defence.

Yes, I intend moving out and have alternative accomodation lined up just in case the interim possession order is granted.

For now, does any kind soul have any advice or guidance to defend the Interim possession order?

Thanks

:)

Bel
01-03-2010, 23:37 PM
From what I have read on the forums, preparation is key.

To prove you are legally in possession make up several bundles of copies of documents showing what rent you have paid to the council over the years, any correspondance between you and your landlord when you first lived there, the story of how you got to live there, when your LL left, etc with DATES, also how he tried to harrass you to leave.

See davidjohnbuttons post on this thread : http://landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=26477&highlight=bundle&page=2

How about a list of embarrassing questions you want to ask your LL. Have them written out and ready because you will go to pot if you dont have everything written down.

This may be out of your comfort zone, but don't wimp out! That is your LL's aim after all. You'll do fine. Please post back. Best of luck. :)

karenlisam
02-03-2010, 18:37 PM
I have a friend who went through similar


The problem with HA properties in this situation is they are allocated on need and so they can't just allow people to leave and pass the property on so the property was granted to him as he reached the top of their list

I can't tell from your post if this is the same but the crux of the matter with my friend was that even though she was paying the rent then she did not tell the housing association formally that her mum ( the tenant) had vacated and emigrated.

So even though she was paying the rent then as far as the HA were concerned she was a trespasser and she was evicted. She argued to stay on but was told they had waiting lists and it wasn't fair to allow her to stay when there were others at the top of the list waiting for accomodation

In a stupid turn of events the council then had to put her and her small child into a hostel as had been made redundant while all this was going on and after four months she was then allocated a house in the next road by the same housing association.

Good luck with it all xx Its still worth a chat with them if you have circumstances where you would qualify for the house as they might not all be as daft as the one she dealt with.

Just to add - if you have proof of the bills and that he vacated the property for x amount of time then even if you don't get the property then if you give that to the housing then it means they would take it off him as he abandoned it. Depends on if you want to go down that road I guess

hello kitty_483
05-03-2010, 19:08 PM
Thanks for the response guys, I appreciate it.

So I went to court today - what a nightmare experience it was too. Having taken advice from a solicitor, Shelter and ASS, I felt confident to attend the court without a brief in tow - bad mistake!

He was there with a brief and it made me feel nervous instantly. The brief had a chat with me and he was very aggressive making claims that I had no right to be in the house and he would do a deal with me if I agreed to vacate within 7 days. Given that the IPO would demand 24 hour eviction I told him I'd rather take my chances with the judge and proceeded into court 1.

Very quickly the judge came to the conclusion that I wasn't a squatter and had in fact been given access to the premises. What surprised me however, is that the other side seemed to convince him that my status was that of licencee, the lowest of the low when it comes to tenancy rights. They seem to scoff and ignore the fact that I had been paying rent direct to the HA - I kept on reiterating that I had paid near on £25k in rent and surely that must count for something.

The judge felt that I didn't have a right to be in the property regardless of my rental payments and that the claimant had been away from the property since 2004 :eek: That the utility bills were in my name was just an after thought and seemed fall on deaf ears.

Suffice it to say he granted possession and gave me the longest term possible, 6 weeks. The claimant sought costs which was rejected.

The judge retired so I turned on my heels and got out of there with the solicitor for the claimant making threats that he would sue me for this, that and whatever. My reply: do what you want, my friend.

What did I learn:
A court is a very scary place and judges tend to look down on defendants that aren't accompanied by a brief.

What has confused me about the whole process (and I intend lodging an appeal) is how a landlord can make a spurious claim that an occupant is a squatter and thereby get a quick court hearing then when the IPO conditions not satisfied the court can then switch to full blown possession proceedings without the need for an prior notice to have been served.

If the judge agreed I wasn't a squatter why wasn't I afforded the rights of a subtenant? crazy!

Oh well, I'll lodge an appeal and see where I go from there. If I'm honest I'd sooner do away with all this hassle -i'm stubborn and relish a fight so fat chance I'll give up and move on. Bailiffs are quoting 8-10 weeks and would normally give 10 days notice so even if I lose the appeal I have at least 3 months to find somewhere - hopefully I would have completed on the purchase of a house before then.

Apologies for the rant but it really was one of the most stressfull days in my life.

Thanks for reading

Bel
05-03-2010, 22:27 PM
There is no way that you can be called a licencee in this case.

Judges do not always get it right it seems. Bad luck.

Have you checked out your entitlement to legal aid?

Good luck with the appeal.

We're on your side. Please post back what happens.

I would imagine the Housing Association would be interested in contesting your LL getting possession as I'm sure they would not want him back either.