PDA

View Full Version : Complex joint tenancy problem



jdcg
20-12-2011, 17:08 PM
A landlord friend of mine has managed her property very badly and is in difficulties and has asked me to take over management. The current tenant(s) are hugely in arrears and have been giving her the run-around for some time. We intend to evict but I foresee one or two problems. First, if the original contract was a joint tenancy (i.e. more than one name on the contract) and the current tenants living there are different (bar one) then how to evict them? The contract has not been updated and is now periodic (under the original name(s)).
Whilst getting themselves assessed for housing benefit the tenants also decided to put locks on the bedroom doors to make it look like they were in an HMO (which it is not, it's a 3 bed London ex-council flat). They have also not been paying council tax so now the council is chasing my friend for council tax claiming it is her laibility as it's an HMO.
In addition to the standard Section 21 (4)a procedures, is there anything that I can do to expedite this process or progress it smoothly?

Thanks in advance

Snorkerz
20-12-2011, 17:14 PM
How did the current tenants gain occupation - was the tenancy assigned to them?

If it has been arranged by the tenants, and none of the original tenants have given notice, then they remain liable.

Are there any deposits involved and have they been protected?

The property is a HMO, but your friend needs to explain (and prove) to the council that it is let as a single unit. Council tax responsibility may be the sole remaining tenants, as the remainder appear (subject to your replies) to be his/her lodgers. Failing that, what does the tenancy agreement say about responsibility for council tax?

Are you aware of section 8 of the 1988 Housing Act.

mind the gap
20-12-2011, 17:15 PM
If the original AST was a joint tenancy in the original tenants' names, and no new legally binding document has superceded that, then

(i) it is still a joint tenancy
(ii) the original tenants are still liable for the rent and Council Tax, utilities, etc
(iii) to get out whoever's living there now, you should serve a section 8 notice (citing grounds 8,10 and 11), on the original Tenants, at the property, and follow it up with a court order for possession (and bailiffs if necessary) if they fail to vacate. Any hangers-on/subtenants/lodgers will be removed at the same time as the original T(s).

westminster
21-12-2011, 15:08 PM
We intend to evict but I foresee one or two problems. First, if the original contract was a joint tenancy (i.e. more than one name on the contract) and the current tenants living there are different (bar one) then how to evict them? The contract has not been updated and is now periodic (under the original name(s)).
Let's say the property was let jointly to A, B, & C, and A & B moved out (without giving notice) and C still lives there (and has let rooms to D & E) - in this scenario, A, B & C remain the legal joint tenants. Even if the occupiers are now C, D & E.

If either A or B served notice to quit after the fixed term expired (i.e. after the tenancy became periodic), then their notice would have ended the whole tenancy, and the LL, by accepting rent from C, D & E would have granted them a new (periodic, orally granted) tenancy.

Any notice seeking possession must be served on the actual, legal tenants, (with all the names on a single notice). So, if the first scenario applies (as it would appear to), that's A, B & C.


In addition to the standard Section 21 (4)a procedures, is there anything that I can do to expedite this process or progress it smoothly?

If the first scenario applies, you can apply for possession under s.21 via the so-called 'accelerated' procedure, which is paper-based and doesn't require a hearing. But all paperwork must be in order, and if the T defends the application there will have to be hearing, so it won't necessarily be any quicker.

You can also serve a s.8 notice, as MTG suggests. The notice period is only 14 days, after which you can apply for possession. A further benefit is that you can claim the unpaid rent in tandem with the possession claim.

Either way, the whole process is never going to be quick. Read this blog post (by a firm of landlord and tenant solicitors) about the length of possession proceedings - http://blog.painsmith.co.uk/2011/11/30/how-long-do-court-proceedings-for-possession-take/

It is essential, above all, to ensure that your notice is valid and correctly served. If it isn't, you could get all the way to the hearing stage, then lose because your notice was defective. (There are many ways in which a notice - particularly a s.21(4)(a) notice - may be defective, so if you're not sure, ask).