Over a third of properties in England in Wales are rented and just over half of those are properties are owned by private Landlords (2011 Census data). That’s over 4.2m households. Even though the majority of Landlords treat their Tenants fairly and abide by the law, there are some who are unscrupulous and treat their Tenants badly. If you are unlucky enough to have one of these as your Landlord, it’s vital to know your rights. Many Tenants don’t realise that Landlords have responsibilities towards them and even when they do, sometimes they are too scared to question them or complain for fear of eviction. If you’re one of these Tenants and have a problem you need to discuss, we’re here to help.
Whether it concerns an Assured Shorthold Tenancy or a bespoke Agreement, a Tenancy Agreement will clearly set out your rights and expectations as a Tenant as well as those of your Landlord. As such, the Agreement acts as a contract between the Landlord and Tenant and should be signed as an indication of acceptance of its terms and a willingness to comply.
Once signed, both parties enter into the agreement and can therefore be held accountable to their rights and responsibilities. If any terms of the Tenancy Agreement are broken, the breach of contract may mean that the other party are well within their rights to take legal action against the breaching party.
Our experienced Landlord and Tenant solicitors provide expert guidance on all aspects of Tenancy Agreements, offering a practical solution to every obstacle. We regularly advise and assist when terms have been breached, helping Tenants to safeguard their Tenancy.
Landlords have the right to obtain a Rent Deposit from Tenants as a form of security and protection as the property comes off the market. The deposit should be held throughout the tenancy in a government-backed tenancy scheme and either returned to the Tenant at the end of the agreement or withheld to cover any rent arrears or repairs for damages caused by the Tenant.
Landlords must protect the Tenant’s deposit by placing it in one of three schemes within 30 days of receiving the sum and also provide the Tenant with certain prescribed information.
The scheme that is to be used must be disclosed to the Tenant. If your Landlord fails to pay the deposit into a scheme, you- the Tenant could take court action against your Landlord to claim compensation. A failure to comply with obligations on the part of the Landlord could also potentially affect their right to regain possession of the property. If your Landlord has failed to protect your Deposit or your Tenancy has come to an end and your Landlord is refusing to return your deposit monies- our expert Landlord & Tenant solicitors can assist to resolve your problems.
In some cases, a serious dispute with a Landlord could result in eviction. In these circumstances, it’s vital that Landlords must have fulfilled their duties as the Landlord by providing the Tenant with all necessary documents and information, upholding the responsibilities outlined in the tenancy agreement as well as any others that are prescribed by law. Failing to do so can significantly delay the eviction process or strip the Landlord of their right to evict.
Landlords may evict a Tenant with the aim of recovering the property through serving a Section 8 Notice or a Section 21 Notice.
A Section 8 Notice can be served in situations where a Tenant has breached their contract and you intend to repossess the property to avoid any further breaches, losses or damages.
Depending on the ground(s) it is served on, a Section 8 Notice can expire on the same day it is served or within a time frame of two months. The most common reason for serving Section 8 Notices is rent arrears, although there are many other valid reasons for doing so.
In order to serve a notice for unpaid rent which relies on a mandatory ground for possession, the Tenant must be at least two months in arrears. If the Tenant reduces their arrears to less than two months at any time before the matter comes to court, the court can refuse to grant a possession order. Our specialist Landlord & Tenant solicitors can advise you on the right approach to suit your circumstances and of any potential grounds for defending eviction.
A Section 21 Notice has to give two clear months’ notice and be in a prescribed form. There are also various legal requirements that need to be met. These vary depending on a number of factors – for example, the start date of the tenancy.
A Landlord does not have to specify any reason for serving a Section 21 Notice, and usually, no court hearing takes place. Many Landlords look to rely on Section 21 as means of evicting their Tenants- we can act in your best interest by scrutinising whether defective notices was served or whether the correct legal procedure was followed at all by the Landlord on inception of the Tenancy. If any of this can be proven- it will affect the Landlord’s ability to potentially evict you under the Section 21 method.
What is meant by ‘unlawful eviction’?
The statutory starting point is the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
Section 1(2) states when someone is guilty of this offence:
“If any person unlawfully deprives the residential occupier of any premises of his occupation of the premises or any part thereof, or attempts to do so, he is guilty of an offence unless he proves that he believed, and had reasonable cause to believe, that the residential occupier had ceased to reside in the premises.”
The terms ‘eviction’ and ‘deprivation’ have been interpreted in a relatively intuitive manner by the courts, a key factor being the lack of access.
If you have been excluded or removed from a property by your Landlord who has failed to obtain and execute a warrant for your eviction, then you may have been subject to an illegal eviction.
A Landlord can normally only make a Tenant leave their property by executing a court issued warrant for their eviction.
There are several steps a Landlord must take to obtain a warrant for your eviction. They must comply with all these steps before they can lawfully require you to leave your home.
In most cases your Landlord will need to serve you with Notice Seeking Possession or a notice to quit before issuing possession proceedings. The notice will give you a fixed period of time to vacate the property, after which a claim for possession can be issued.
After this your Landlord must obtain an order for possession from the Court, and then if you have not vacated the property by the date specified in that order, they must obtain a separate warrant of eviction before being able to lawfully evict you. The eviction warrant will specify an execution date, which is the date that court bailiffs can attend the property and execute the possession order.
If your Landlord has not followed this procedure, you may be able to bring a claim for illegal eviction. In such a claim you can seek the following:
The following are examples of behavior that could be challenged in a claim for illegal eviction:
What do I need to do?
If your Landlord has evicted you from the property without obtaining and executing a warrant you should seek urgent legal advice.
You may be able to bring a claim against your Landlord for unlawful eviction, seeking an injunction order to compel your Landlord to allow you back into the property, as well as seeking compensation.
You should keep any evidence you have following the unlawful eviction, including receipts for any additional expenses you have incurred; for instance the cost of having to book a hotel room after you were excluded from your home. These kinds of expenses may be recoverable from your Landlord.
What are the penalties for this offence?
The offence carries a maximum punishment of two years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine and can be tried in both the magistrates’ and crown courts.
A Rent Repayment Order (known as an ‘RRO’) is an order made by the First-Tier Tribunal requiring a Landlord to repay a specified amount of rent. An application for an RRO can be made by either the council or the Tenants of the relevant property.
On what grounds can an application for a Rent Repayment Order be made?
You as the Tenant(s) or the council can make an application for an RRO because you consider that your Landlord has committed an offence. You can make your application for the RRO even if the Landlord has not been prosecuted for the offence.
The person applying for the RRO must be able to demonstrate that the Landlord has committed one or more of the following offences:
It is often the case that Tenants make an application for an RRO because they consider that their Landlord has failed to obtain the relevant licence for the property (for example, a HMO licence) or/and have failed to comply with the housing management regulations.
Tenants/Local Authorities can reclaim a maximum of 12 months’ rent. Once an order requiring rent to be repaid is made, the Landlord will be required to make the payment within 28 days.
If your rented Home, through social housing or a Private Landlord, has fallen into a state of disrepair or in simpler terms deteriorated, from what it was when you moved in, and your Landlord has failed to repair your home, then our specialist Landlord & Tenant solicitors can help you to re-claim your rent and any costs in you repairing your rented home.
This is not limited to physical deterioration. It can be a rat infestation, it could be a mould problem, it could be a broken boiler, it could be a leaking gutter. Whatever the problem that prevents you from enjoying your rented home as a home, our experienced team of solicitors are here to help you and guide you to ensure that you are compensated for what is your legal right.
If a complaint has been made to a Landlord about disrepair such as leaks, damp, infestations or an issue with installations such as no heating or hot water and that complaint has been ignored, a solicitor can pursue a claim for specific performance which is an order from the court that the required repair work must be completed.
Ordinarily a solicitor can work with the Landlord to get the repair work done, without any involvement with the court. A Tenant might also be entitled to a percentage of their rent back for the period of time they have lived in disrepair.
Benefits of instructing us for your Disrepair Claim:
In some cases, disagreements relating to a tenancy may lead to a dispute. Whether the property in question is residential or commercial, conflicts between Landlords and Tenants have become all too common. Issues that may lead to a tenancy dispute include:
Landlord & Tenant Law is an extremely complex area, and it can be difficult to understand.
Attempting to resolve an issue without legal advice will cause problems, and fixing these problems is often more costly
In this scenario it appears that your Landlord has followed the correct procedure. You should check the terms of the order and check the date that the warrant was due to be executed, but it is likely that you have been evicted lawfully.
Yes, it sounds like you may have been unlawfully evicted. Unless your Landlord has obtained a court order for possession and a warrant for your eviction they must not change the locks to the property.
Yes, you may be able to recover some or all of the additional costs you incur as a consequence of the unlawful eviction. This can form part of your “special damages” claim and the court can order your Landlord to pay towards these costs. It is very important that you keep evidence of the additional costs you have incurred, such as receipts. You may need to make a homeless application to your local authority if you are not able to afford temporary accommodation.
It will depend upon what pressure your Landlord has put you under. Depending on the circumstances and the evidence you have it may be that you have a valid unlawful eviction claim.
Your Landlord should not have deprived you of access to your belongings and you may be able to claim compensation for the damaged / missing items.
No. Only County Court appointed bailiffs or High Court sheriffs have the right to lawfully enter your property and to remove you. Bailiffs from private companies cannot lawfully execute a court warrant and cannot make you leave. You should seek legal advice immediately if your Landlord takes their own steps to execute a warrant, even if they have got the warrant lawfully.
In order for any issues in your rented property to amount to disrepair, there must be deterioration. Deterioration is when parts or the entire property are in a worse condition that it was at the time you moved in.
Your Landlord must keep the house in a good condition, failing to do so would result in a housing disrepair claim.
If any new work is done in the property by the Landlord after you have moved in, and the new work deteriorates, then it isn’t a housing disrepair claim.
Yes, as outlined above, a Tenant has the right to seek compensation for disrepair in a rented property, which has been ongoing for a time period without being resolved.
If you have notified the Landlord that there are issues that need to be fixed and they refuse, you should try and negotiate with them. This can be done through the letting agents or directly, depending on your agreement.
If your Landlord still refuses, this can then be escalated through solicitors. You may be eligible for compensation as a result of this issue, and the possible resulting ill health or damage to your belongings.
If you have caused damage to the property then the Landlord may not be liable.
The amount of compensation depends on the severity of the disrepair, and how long it has lasted.
There are a number of things which could make a property unfit for living. Some examples of these conditions include: