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Letters with a Landlord: The Eviction Chronicles

Have you ever asked yourself, “What rights do I have as a tenant?”

My partner and I currently live in an ex-local council, shared two-bed flat in Hackney Wick.

Unfortunately, not for long!!

We will be leaving at the end of our Tenancy Agreement, after managing to bat away the Landlord’s attempt to illegally evict us.

The following chronicles my Landlord’s attempt to serve us notice to quit in contravention of the 1988 Housing Act.

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(Image courtesy of Stewart Chambers)

Please DO NOT take this as legal advice, but I hope it’s an example that other renters can learn from to try and avoid issues like this happening at all. As you negotiate renting a property, do your best to understand your rights as a tenant and pay particular attention to the various clauses in your tenancy agreement.

This situation caused my girlfriend and me a tremendous amount of stress. Frankly, we can’t even consider our flat “home” any more. Hopefully sharing this experience will serve as a helpful message to landlords to understand they should not mess around with the lives of their tenants unnecessarily and help renters by providing some useful info in the event the worst happens.

For more information or advice, check the UK Government’s website Private renting for tenants: evictions or reach out to our friends at the non-profit Generation Rent, who help support the rights of private renters.

All names have been changed (other than mine and my partner’s) to keep the other parties anonymous.

Here’s to happy housesharing – hope this doesn’t happen to any of you!

Nick

Co-founder

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On Sat, Jul 12, 2014 at 5:31 PM, The Landlord wrote:

Subject: Notice to Quit

Hi Nick & Kristina

I am writing with regret that I have to give notice for you to leave the flat as of today (12th July 2014).

Having lost another couple very quickly I am reconsidering the letting of the flat based on a whole let basis. As you have previously indicated that you could not take on the whole of the flat I am giving you a months notice to leave.

You have paid rent for July and would be responsible for rent up until and including the 11th with an exit date of the 12th August 2014.  I will return your deposit on the day you leave and as soon as the room has been checked. I will finalise the amount for the outstanding rent in due course.

Best regards

The Landlord

 

On Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 9:53 AM, Nick Katz wrote:

Subject: Re: Notice to Quit

Dear Landlord,

Thank you for your email of 12th July.

I am disappointed that you are seeking our eviction at this time and I appreciate that you are citing extraneous reasons rather than any fault on our part. I don’t wish to cause you any distress so let me explain that I am going to approach this email in two parts. The first is to assert our rights as we see them and the second section is my proposal for an approach that accommodates both your needs and ours.

Firstly, I don’t believe your email of the 12th July is a valid Notice to Quit under the 1988 Housing Act, which I have reviewed. If we consider our tenancy to be a supplementary agreement to our first tenancy with you then the Notice to Quit is not valid because it is for less than two months. If we consider our agreement to be an Initial “new” tenancy, unrelated to the first, then the Notice to Quit would be invalid because you have not stated the grounds for our eviction within the assured period. We have no duty to accept your written notice as valid until it is issued in a legally valid form.

That said, we understand your position. We have heard nightmare stories of tenants who have clung onto tenancies to the very last day and we don’t want to be forced into that position through a lack of any other choice.

Our view is that a little flexibility would enable us to vacate your property more quickly voluntarily than if you pursue a statutory eviction. Our proposal is as follows:

  1.       You undertake to return our deposit in full on our last day in occupation. We will allow an informal inspection in advance of you agreeing to this so you are sure there is no reason to withhold the deposit at this time. For the avoidance of doubt we are proposing you waive your right to claim any damages or fees against our deposit on the strength of good faith between us. Our ability to have this cash at our disposal makes it easier for us to secure a deposit for an alternative home.
  2.       We undertake to leave as soon as possible, however, landlords often want the “soonest available” tenant in and rarely are willing to wait 1-2 months. We would like you to waive your right to one month’s notice from us and accept 2 weeks instead. This means we can crack on straight away in looking for an alternative home and take the next suitable place that is available at two week’s notice – rather than commencing our search two weeks before the agreed end of the tenancy once you have issued a valid Notice to Quit.
  3.       Commitment to a positive landlord reference of us in advance, including stating that we were accommodating and flexible with you when you needed your property back at no fault of our own.
  4.       Agreement that we retain all our rights under Law, for example your obligations to maintain the property, in the time between agreeing these terms and our departure from your property.

As I stated before, our belief is that we have the right to two months’ notice on receipt of a valid Notice to Quit, which we have not yet received. We think we would be able to get out of your hair much quicker if you agreed to the terms above.

Please do let us know what you think.

Nick

Nick Katz, FRICS

Co-founder & CEO

Locatable.com

 

On Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 8:25 AM, The Landlord wrote:

Subject: Re: Notice to Quit

Hi Nick and Kristina

Thank you for your response. The Housing Act on notice to quit does supersede my earlier email on this matter and you should therefore ignore it.

However, for clarity and for the reasons I outlined in my original email I am prevailing on the sense of reasonableness that you and I entered into this contract and if you need 2 months to move you may exercise this right with no movement of terms on my part outside of this. Having to frequently re let the other room in my flat was not what I expected to do and so I must find a solution to this issue and that means asking you to leave. Please confirm if you are intending to leave the flat given my request.

In any event I will seek to end your tenancy at the end of November as per your existing contract. I will not consider a change in the terms of this contract. However, as above, if you wish to end your tenancy prior to this time, the terms set out in the signed agreement still stand.

In the meantime I will begin to show the other room in the flat in the coming weeks as Colette and Jacques are leaving. Can you please ensure that the flat as always remains tidy and clean. On previous visits to the flat I have noted that the communal lounge and kitchen have a lot of personal items belonging to yourself and Kristina; as this is a shared flat I am requesting that you remove these items into your own room. Any new tenants will be signing up to the sharing of areas such as the lounge and kitchen and in agreement with myself have access to the full use of all  furnishings/equipment which is included as part of the tenancy. Your personal items in the communal areas could potentially be problematic. I would appreciate if you could address this issue by the time that Colette and Jacques leave in the first week of August.

Best regards

The Landlord

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