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Ketaminer
17-03-2010, 14:56 PM
Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read this post. I have been browsing these forums for ages now and appreciate the wisdom contained herein. I have all of a sudden found myself in need of this forums advice.

History: We have lived in the same block of flats in south west London (12 1 bed properties exist) since May 2007. The block was quite old and in need of modernization but most people were fine with this as the rent reflected the conditions. One of the long standing tenants went into a home for old people in May 2009 and we requested to move off the ground floor, primarily due to security reasons. This request was granted but the owners wanted to modernize the vacant flat first. Builders came in and work was completed end of July 2009. We heard nothing until late August when we contacted the landlords to find out what was happening and they informed us that the flat was now being advertised through an agency and the rent was £1000 instead of the £600 we had been paying. This was far too much for us and, disappointed, we elected to stay where we were. By late September and with Winter approaching we demanded our Gas Fire was fixed as we weren’t prepared to go through another cold winter without adequate heating. A meeting was arranged at which we were offered the modernized flat (we suspect they had had no interested people; certainly we had not seen any viewings take place) with a reduced rent of £750 for the first two years, rising to £900 in the 3 years after. We gladly accepted the move, despite having paid considerable monies redecorating our original flat (there was chronic damp). Our contract start date was November 1st 2009 and we happily moved in. We had a typical Assured Shorthold Tenancy, 12 months.

On Friday 12th March a lady hand delivered letters to every flat in the block. Three hours later there was a knock on our door from one of the other tenants. Apparently all 11 other tenants in the block had been given a notice to quit, notice period of two months, and they were curious to know if we had received any letter. We said no we hadn’t. In speculation, we planned to contact the owners to find out what was going on – if all the other tenants were being asked to leave, presumably so the block could be re-developed, where would that leave us as the only remaining tenants with building work going on? Would all essential services be switched off?

Before we had a chance to contact the owners we also had a letter delivered on Tuesday 16th March, containing a Section 8 Re-possession notice which outlined our two month notice period to leave. Our speculative questions had been answered.

Now we have looked into this and on the surface it seems there is nothing we can do. But before we seek alternative accommodation and potentially part with £2000 (which we don’t currently have) I have come to you seeking some advice to find out:

1) Where do we stand officially? Is there any point in fighting this? I have read that there is no point. But we feel angry, not only because we were very happy in our flat and don’t want the stress of having to move again, but because we have only been there 5 months on what was supposed to be a long let. We had verbal assurances from the owners that everything was fine and permanent. We have a letter from them outlining our rental payments for the next 5 years. So, apart from the broken promises, is there anything in the eyes of the law that we can do?
2) In addition to point 1 and another reason we’re angry; we have spent a small fortune on new furniture and fittings in our new flat as we had expected to be there for a long time. It was not simply a matter of transplanting from one flat into another – there are always costs involved in moving home. We have also been paying a higher rent in our block than any other tenant for these 5 months. We wouldn’t have had this expenditure if we had simply stayed where we were. If we had had any hint that this wasn’t a long let we would never have agreed to move and to the arrangements we had discussed with the owners back in September 2009.
3) Are we obligated by law to pay the rent for the full 2 month notice period, even if we leave early? Or should we simply contact the landlords and arrange to be released? Wouldn’t it be in their interest to have us leave as soon as possible?
4) We saw a statement on the Section 8 notice that says with Grounds for Removal Point 6 (which this notice for possession is based upon) the landlord is liable for ‘reasonable’ removal costs. What can we claim for aside from removal men? How do we enforce this requirement?

I would be very grateful for any advice you could provide.

matthew_henson
17-03-2010, 16:43 PM
There are 16, well 14 grounds you can terminate a tenancy use a section 8 notice , for more info check here http://www.letlink.co.uk/letting-statutes/schedules/housing-act-1988-schedules-1-and-2.html#STAT

It would appear they have chosen this ground carefully and it is manditory which means a court must award a possession order.

Does the contract have a break clause?

Provided the section 8 notice is correct (i.e. there are no errors) I suspect it is valid and you do indeed need to move out, you are required to pay rent for the notice period however you may be able to negociate an earlier exit with the LL

Other board members maybe able to recognise if the Section 8 is indeed 100% valid

jeffrey
17-03-2010, 16:49 PM
There are eighteen grounds (1-17 plus 14A [for certain landlords only]).

matthew_henson
17-03-2010, 16:56 PM
There are eighteen grounds (1-17 plus 14A [for certain landlords only]).

ooops :confused:

Preston
17-03-2010, 23:28 PM
Sorry, I may not have read your post properly, but I'm not quite clear what ground for possession has been given on the notice?

Ketaminer
18-03-2010, 09:19 AM
Thank you all for the replies.

We feel like we've known the answer to all this, which is there is nothing we can do. Which is ok for us, we're young and should be able get the deposit and advance rent together in time. I just feel sorry for some of the other tenants who have been here years and are mostly elderly. None of them are likely to be able to afford to leave nor pay a more expensive rent elsewhere.

I spoke to the local housing advice centre yesterday who also said there was nothing we could do, although they found the whole scenario appalling morally and ethically.

The ground for possession is number 6; the most applicable explanation being they want to renovate the property and its simply not practicle for anyone to be living there while the work takes place.

If anyone has any experience of this I would like to know what is meant by 'if the ground for possession is number 6 the landlord will be liable for removal costs'. What precisely can we claim for?

Paul Gibbs
18-03-2010, 11:37 AM
what evidence has LL provided to show that the do genuinely intend to carry out these works?

Ketaminer
18-03-2010, 11:50 AM
I doubt very much after all that has happened that it is a pack of lies. Having upgraded 2 of the 24 flats they've obviously decided it would be more cost effective to do the whole lot in one go. I can appreciate the logic. It's the way they've gone about it that makes everyone furious. I mean come off it, they must have known long before this what was going to happen. Give everyone as much notice as possible would have been the ethical thing to do.

A colleague of mine did check for me and there is no planning application in place for the works on the building but there is one for turning the rear garden into car parking bays. I suppose they realise they may have a fight on their hands removing all tenants and things have been delayed.

Preston
18-03-2010, 21:17 PM
I don't fully understand why you are quite so pessimistic about your situation. Ground 6 is not an easy one for a landlord. The landlord has to show:

a) that they intend to demolish or reconstruct a large part of the dwelling or carry out substantial works to the dwelling. A court will expect to see a clear evidence of the proposed works.
b) that there is a genuine desire to do the work and a reasonable prospect that it will actually go ahead. In Ewards v Thompson, for example, the landlords application failed because no builder had been selected to carry out the work by the time of the hearing.
c) that the work could not be reasonably carried out without the tenant giving up possession. If two of the flats have already been refurbished with the tenants in situ, this may be a difficult requirement to fulfill, assuming that the nature of the proposed works is the same or similar.
d) that he or she did not buy their interest in the property after the tenancy commenced (this is to stop speculators buying up properties and using ground 6 for speculative developments).

Where possession is granted under ground 6, the landlord is liable to pay reasonable removal costs which, if they cannot be agreed between the parties will be decided by the court.

Ketaminer
19-03-2010, 13:33 PM
Thank you very much for the tantalising reply. It is much food for thought.

We had discounted fighting this in court because:
a) Hassle
b) No experience of court proceedings and its all a daunting prospect
c) If we lose we have to get out in 14 days (allowing so little time to find something), although I suppose the court date itself would take some time to arrive, allowing more time to prepare for leaving.
d) If we lose, we're liable for the landlord costs.
e) With all the things you list, its conceivable that they might have proof by the time of a court date, thereby blowing our case out of the water (I realise thats pessimistic).

I will be passing all your wisdom on to the rest of the tenants in case any of them are fighting this. I am extremely grateful for the suggestions, thank you.

Preston
19-03-2010, 23:02 PM
Thank you very much for the tantalising reply. It is much food for thought.

We had discounted fighting this in court because:
a) Hassle

I take your point.



b) No experience of court proceedings and its all a daunting prospect

Well, perhaps less daunting than you think, but you would ideally need some support and advice, perhaps from an experienced lawyer or advice centre.



c) If we lose we have to get out in 14 days (allowing so little time to find something), although I suppose the court date itself would take some time to arrive, allowing more time to prepare for leaving.

No, a court would give you longer than this. Its not possible to say exactly how long, but probably 6 weeks or so and this would be in addition to the time taken for the application and hearing process.



d) If we lose, we're liable for the landlord costs.

I doubt it. Who has told you so and why?



e) With all the things you list, its conceivable that they might have proof by the time of a court date, thereby blowing our case out of the water (I realise thats pessimistic).

Well, if they do, then they are entitled to possession. But this is the very reason they need to go through due legal process - to prove that their case is genuine.


I will be passing all your wisdom on to the rest of the tenants in case any of them are fighting this. I am extremely grateful for the suggestions, thank you.

Even if you are not inclined to oppose the landlord's plans - and I am not for a minute suggesting you would be wrong to take this route if you wish - you might still want to give some thought to how you could go about negotiating the best deal for yourself.

Ketaminer
22-03-2010, 10:45 AM
Preston, thank you for following up. I have passed all your comments on to my neighbours and they may well be pursuing this.

In reply to your question about paying the landlord court costs if we lose:

"If you are an assured shorthold tenant and your landlord has followed the correct procedure there is no way you can avoid having to leave. If your landlord has to take you to court to force you to leave you will probably have to pay the landlord's court costs. Most tenants leave before the notice ends if they are able to."

This is a direct quote from the Shelter website.

Personally speaking I and my partner will likely be leaving. We no longer feel secure with our landlord and will look for something better with a long term let assurance. In addition to this, I am extremely busy during mid-June to October and can't afford the time or energy to move (I work for a University).

Once again thank you very much for your helpful positive input.

jeffrey
22-03-2010, 10:48 AM
"If you are an assured shorthold tenant and your landlord has followed the correct procedure there is no way you can avoid having to leave. If your landlord has to take you to court to force you to leave you will probably have to pay the landlord's court costs. Most tenants leave before the notice ends if they are able to."
Note that T's merely leaving the premises will not thereupon end T's liability for rent.