Affordable Law for You is aware that when landlords let properties and tenants lease property problems can ensue as a result of either party breaching the letting agreement. These are contractual rights enforceable through the courts. Certain rights have also been provided through legislation. The Disability Discrimination Act, Sex Discrimination Act,Race Relations Act and Occupiers Liability Act 1957 will all apply to anyone letting, selling or managing premises whether they are private landlord or a council. There are also various housing acts which regulate the relationship between the landlord and tenant and give additional rights to a tenant. Further problems can arise when the question of succession to the tenancy are disputed.
A landlord is responsible for:
This list does not cover every landlord responsibility
- Keeping the structure and exterior of the property in good repair, including drains, gutters and external pipes
- Keeping installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation in good repair and proper working order
- Keeping installations for space heating and water heating in good repair and proper working order
- All furniture a landlord provides must be fire resistant. Furniture must meet the fire resistance requirements in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988
- The fire safety of furniture
- Landlords should be signed up to the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (if a tenancy was agreed after 6th April 2007 then a landlord must safeguard the deposit under the terms of an approved tenancy deposit scheme, one of the penalties for failing to do this is that the landlord will not be able to serve a Section 21 Notice upon a Tenant until it can be proved that the deposit is being held in accordance with the authorised scheme and the Tenant has been provided with the correct information in this regard) Landlords or agents must use one of three approved Tenancy Deposit Schemes namely: Deposit Protection Service (DPS), My Deposits and Tenancy Deposit Schemes. If tenants' deposits are not protected, then a tenant will be able to take you to court and you may have to repay them their deposit plus three times the amount of their deposit. If you are a new Landlord and are not sure of the best way to safeguard your tenant's deposit visit Deposit Protection for further information.
If a landlord does not complete repairs after being informed of them by the tenant, then the tenant can sue the landlord in court. The court can award damages and order other repairs to be done.
A tenant is responsible for:
This list does not cover every tenant responsibility
- Paying the rent as agreed and taking proper care of the property
- Bills for gas electricity, telephone, etc if this was agreed with your landlord in most cases, paying the council tax, water and sewerage charges
- The premises should not to be used for illegal purposes
- The tenant should not permit or cause nuisance
- The tenant will refrain from causing nuisance or interfering with the quiet enjoyment of neighbours
- Where a person is lawfully permitted to be in the premises by the tenant, the tenant is responsible for any act or omission caused by that person
- Keeping the premises in a reasonable state of cleanliness having regard to the condition of the premises at the beginning of the tenancy
- Notifying the landlord of all damage to the premises
- Not intentionally causing or permitting damage to the premises
- Leaving the premises in the same condition as it was when the tenancy began having regard to fair wear and tear
If a tenant does not satisfy reasonable conditions imposed by the landlord, they could be breaking their agreement and the landlord might be able to regain possession of the property.
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990
a local authority may take action to require the owner of a property which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance to remedy the defects.
The Housing Act 1988 requires the local authorities to take action where a property is in such a state that it is unfit for human habitation. If the council accepts that a property is unfit for human habitation there is a range of measures. The local authority can:
- Serve a repair notice
- If necessary prosecute the landlord for non compliance and carry out the works in default
- In extreme cases they can order a house to be closed down or demolished, in which case they may re house the tenants
- If the property is subject to closure while the repairs are carried out or a demolition order, the tenant will be entitled to alternative accommodation (though it may not be permanent housing) and compensation
- Tenants can only carry out certain improvements with written permission from the landlord who can impose conditions or refuse permission, however the landlord cannot impose conditions or refuse permission without good reason
Secure Tenancies and Non Secure Tenancies
Secure Tenancies are the most common form of tenancies provided by local authorities
To qualify as a secure tenancy, the following conditions must apply:
- The dwelling-house must be let for residential purposes, and let as a separate dwelling
- The landlord must be a Local Authority or other designated public body (as defined by HA 1985 s 80(1))
- The tenant must be an individual and occupy the dwelling as his or her only or principal home. If there are joint tenants, each must be an individual, and at least one of them must occupy the dwelling house as his or her only or principal home
There are exceptions to this as follows:
- Long tenancies (over 21 years and other limited types)
- Introductory Tenancies
- Premises occupied by way of employment
- Tenancies granted pursuant to a Local Authority's duties to provide temporary accommodation for homeless and asylum purposes
- Tenancies of Agricultural holdings and licensed premises Tenancies to which the LTA 1954 PtII Applies (business tenancies)
- Student lettings
Non Secure Tenancies - The most common use of non-secure tenancies will be in respect of a local authority's duty to provide temporary accommodation for homeless people.
If you engage in anti-social behaviour as a tenant then your tenancy can be granted a
Demoted Tenancy Status.
The demoted tenancy was introduced by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 and it enables Local authorities and housing trusts to deal more effectively with anti-social behaviour. It initiates a two-stage regime which entitles landlords to apply to demote an otherwise secure tenancy.
Then, during this demoted period, the landlord may seek possession of the property (provided it follows the statutory procedure).
Assured and Residential Lettings
A letting of residential property is automatically an assured shorthold tenancy unless agreed otherwise in writing.
Such a tenancy means that:
- The Landlord has a guaranteed right to get the property back after six months if they wish
- The Landlord may charge a 'market rate' for rent, that is, the going rate for similar property in the area
- The Landlord can seek possession if the tenant owes at least two months or eight weeks rent
- The Landlord can evict tenants who are causing a nuisance to local people.
- See also the section on assured shorthold tenancies
A resident landlord letting is one where the landlord and the tenant live in the same building. This includes conversions where both parties live in different parts of the same property however purpose built flats are excluded. Residential lettings and Assured Shorthold tenants differ in that someone who lets from a resident landlord, does not have a right to challenge the level of rent that he or she has agreed to pay and the tenant can be given less notice to leave if the landlord wants to end the letting.
If a Landlord has been informed of repairs that need to be done at the property but he has not dealt with these then if the right procedure is followed, the tenant can do the work and take the cost out of the rental payments.
Joint Tenancy and the right to succession in Council Properties
If the tenant dies, it may be possible for the the tenancy will vest in accordance with the statutory rules.
There are no statutory succession provision for a fixed term tenancy which will vest in the normal course of administration of the tenant's estate; however, a periodic tenancy is subject to the provisions within HA 1985 s.89. In such a case, the tenancy will vest in any person who is qualified to succeed the dead tenant. A person will be qualified to succeed if:
- The person is either the tenant's spouse or another member of the tenant's family. (If the latter, the person must have resided with the tenant for the 12 months prior to the tenant's death)
- The person occupied the premises as his or her only or principal home at the tenant's death, and...
- ... the tenant was not such a successor him or herself. (Accordingly, only one statutory succession is permitted - though if the deceased tenant succeeded at a time when the tenancy in question was not secure, a second succession will be allowed - Birmingham CC v Walker)
When a Council tenant dies it may be possible for a husband/wife/civil partner or other family member to take over the tenancy. This is known as succession. A person who has succeeded to a tenancy is called a successor. Succession can only occur following the death of a tenant. If the deceased person was a joint tenant, the only person who may be able to succeed the tenancy would be the remaining joint tenant.
A succession can only happen once. This means that if the deceased person was a successor (including a previous joint tenant), there cannot be a succession by another family member. The Council's policy on succession reflects the legal position and rights of successors as laid out in the Housing Act 1985.
Rights of Tenants in Mortgage Repossession Cases
If you are a tenant of a landlord who has had their property re-possessed you may not be aware of this fact until you are served with notice from a mortgage company seeking possession of the property.
Under the Mortgage Repossessions (Protection of Tenants etc) Act 2010, you can apply to the court for an order allowing you further time (up to two months) to vacate the property and arrange alternative accommodation.
How We Can Assist You
Affordable Law for You can assist you by:
- If necessary undertaking a search at the Land Registry to establish who owns the property in dispute
- Preparing a Letter before Action
- Preparing a Claim Form, Statement of Claim and Schedule of Special Damages (and if personal injury is involved assisting you with obtaining a medical report)
- Preparing a Defence and Counterclaim
- Preparing a Section 8 Notice
- Preparing a Section 21 Notice
- Preparing an Affidavit of Service of the Statement of Claim, Section 8 Notice or Section 21 Notice
- Preparing a Schedule of Defects
- Preparing a Schedule of Rent Arrears
- By completing the Allocation Questionnaire which will be sent to you by the court
- By preparing proposed directions (a timetable) of how your claim will be conducted during court proceedings
- By preparing statements in support of your claim
- By preparing updated counterclaims
- Assisting you to obtain medical evidence
- Researching the appropriate value of your claim so that you can put forward a Part 36 Offer to settle your claim
- Completing and lodging the Listing Questionnaire
- By preparing and checking trial bundles prior to the trial date