worst situation due to landlord!! (any tenants' rights lawyers?)

(175 Posts)
oinkyoink Thu 10-Jan-13 10:21:11

i am in such a bad situation and thought i would come on here for advice and opinions... we are renting our house since last february 2012 and the landlord mentioned it would be a long-term let which was great. as we had the contract for the first year feb 2012 to feb 2013 which was to be renewed annually with 8 weeks notice, we emailed the landlord in october 2012 to let him know we really wanted to stay in the house and avoid any last minute dramas of being given notice. my dd who is 3.5 will be starting reception in Sep 2013 and so I have just submitted her application based on this address.
what did the landlord do after replying in Oct to our email to say yes that would be fine to renew in Feb 2013 for another year? He called us on 20 Dec to say he had a last minute change of mind and needs his house back. (we had a great Christmas... not).
I have applied for my daughter's school based on this address and I am in a bad situation whereby the catchment for the school is extremely small and so we can only basically move along this road or along the road parallel to this one. We have approached the landlord to explain that we need to be here until end of May due to having to send proof of address after the school offers are made on 17 April. he replied to say sorry, he is not being unreasonable in wanting his home back and good luck with our daughter's schooling. How nasty can one person be? It is a crucial time for us as a family and he doesn't give a damn. I am not sure what to do now... He has said we can stay until end of March but this doesn't help. I have worked so hard at trying to get my daughter into a good school and I cannot give up now. Apart from the schooling issue, we are a young family with two children who have been upheaved out of their home. We do not have family in the UK. I am very stressed out as you can imagine.
Opinions appreciated.

EllieArroway Thu 10-Jan-13 10:49:32

Sarah The LL has not actually served notice, so he is breaking the law. You're irritated at the wrong person.

So he told you in December he couldn't renew the contract, but you could stay until March? That seems entirely reasonable to me. He may be in a difficult situation and need to sell, you don't know. Just because he has a big house doesn't mean he is able to be charitable - perhaps he is making a loss on the rent and has to sell.

You'd be the unreasonable one if after being clearly notified that he could not extend the contract you refused to move based on the notice not being on the correct piece of paper. That would be spiteful and mean, and would not help you if you need to find a new place to rent. The rental market is a small world, and no one wants tenants who refuse to move despite ample notice.

oinkyoink Thu 10-Jan-13 10:53:41

Ellie we are assured short hold tenants, yes deposit protected and rent due on 26th each month. Thanks - may I ask where all your knowledge stems from?
I am wondering if we wait a while, and then put it to them that we weren't served written notice then we may be able to buy some time too?

EllieArroway Thu 10-Jan-13 10:54:16

Yes, because landlords breaking the law is entirely reasonable, isn't it, worsester?

marchwillsoonbehere Thu 10-Jan-13 10:54:58

To be fair Ellie I think Sarah was irritated at the hyperbolic tone rather than the legal nuts and bolts. Certain amount of sympathy with her (Sarah) tbh.

Yes LL should get his paperwork act in gear but it sounds like he is not a heartless 'nasty' villain at all and (some may find this hard to believe) there are worse things than not getting your child into the first choice of infants' school. Within months this will be water under the bridge. Not to say I don't sympathise with OP at all, I do, but the tone in the first post was soewaht histrionic.

I definitely think you should double-check with the schools before making any plans to not move out, etc.

It's possible that things aren't as bad as you fear, that the only thing that matters is where you live at the time of application.

Getting into a big showdown with your landlord could impact your renting abilities for years, you don't want to do that unless you absolutely have to.

Mosman Thu 10-Jan-13 11:00:11

I would stay put and I say that as a landlord myself, your daughters education is too important, pay the rent, keep the house nice but I would not be moving before the date that suits your family.

Out of interest, I just looked at the admissions policy for my old council in London, and they decide on applications based on address at time of application.

pluCaChange Thu 10-Jan-13 11:01:12

What Hecate and Ellie said, and this is very important : has he given you written notice? If not, it's not valid.

Even if oral notice were valid (and it's not), I can't see how 20 December to Fe ruary is 2 months (legally should be 2 months unless it's not an Assured Shorthild Tenancy but some illegal creation of his own).

If you are still within your tenancy (until Feb '13?), he can still give you written notice, but it has to be 2 months. The sneaky thing to do would be to wait till his incompetent and invalid " notice" expires and then let him know it's not legal so he has to do it again, giving you 2 months. However, that would probably infuriate him, and although he'd be utterly wrong to harass you, you have a child, so get it sorted beforehand so he doesn't explode. Citizens'Advice, Shelter, and the primary school admissions department of your local educational authority (renember - you haven't dobe anythinv wrobg) should be abke to help. if yiu're in a union, yoi may have subsidused legal cover. Your council may also have soneone in the housing section who covers private rentals and may help

pluCaChange Thu 10-Jan-13 11:04:33

you'd be the unreasonable one if after being clearly notified that he could not extend the contract you refused to move based on the notice not being on the correct piece of paper

Or any piece of paper at all! hmm

oinkyoink Thu 10-Jan-13 11:04:48

yes agreed that it is not best course of action to stay past the end of the tenancy...

offers are made on 17 april and then you must accept by 2 May. then you receive a letter from the school requesting proof of address and this is the bit i am concerned about as if we leave end of march we will have diff address

the school info booklet states that "changes of address after 15 Feb will not be used for admissions purposes until after 17 April 2013, but can be used for correspondence" - i am slightly confused by this... 'until after 17 april 2013' - can someone explain?

FairyJen Thu 10-Jan-13 11:06:47

You said agent had called you? Is it private rent or through an agency. If it's the agency it should be them that give written notice etc based on the instruction from the LL.

EllieArroway Thu 10-Jan-13 11:08:48

Worked in this area, oink.

Right. Regardless of what people like worcester say, if your landlord has not served you with a Section 21 notice then you have not been given a valid notice. These laws are there for a reason.

The Section 21 can be given at any time during the life of the tenancy, but it must give AT LEAST 2 months clear notice. The notice must be dated very, very specifically to expire on the last day of a rental period & say that possession is required AFTER that date.

So, the only legally valid notice he could give you would say that possession is required AFTER 25th of whatever month at least two months hence.

There is still time for him to give you legal notice for the end of March. If he sent it today it would need to say that possession will be sought AFTER 25th March 2013.

I'm sorry, I have to go to work now but this clarifies things further:

www.letlink.co.uk/letting-factsheets/factsheets/factsheet-21-section-21-notice-requiring-possession-of-an-assured-shorthold-tenancy.html

Your tenancy is currently an assured shorthold one. It will automatically (without you or LL needing to do anything) a periodic one after 25th Feb.

Also, for clarification, and because it is very, very important (lots of Section 21s are slung out of court for having the wrong date on them) a rental period runs from the day your rent is due to the day before the next one is. For you this is 26th of the month to 25th of the next.

oinkyoink Thu 10-Jan-13 11:09:13

Mosman thank you for your understanding comment, much appreciated - we are also landlords (not in UK) and I said to my husband that if we had a young family renting our house in this situation I would let them stay for the extra couple of months, sign the document and be done with any hassle of getting proceedings started if they don't move

for the record I am the least high maintenance woman you have ever met, but my child's education is extremely important to me

FairyJen Thu 10-Jan-13 11:09:56

I think it means that up till 15th feb you school placed will be based on address you reside at during time of application. After this if you are in the process of moving you can use a different address for letters etc.

The appeal process for school places begins around April so if you wanted a school in your new area the time to appeal this is 17th April.

I would call someone at the schools and ask them to clarify. The document I looked at said that you have to inform them of changes of address so that they can send you letters, but decisions are made based on address at time of application. (But other places may be different?)

It definitely sounds like they can't change their mind once offers are made, so is it possible to go back to your landlord and ask him if you can stay until the end of April? That is only one more month, not two, so maybe he would consider it.

BreconBeBuggered Thu 10-Jan-13 11:12:56

Wouldn't you still have proof of address documents even if you had to move out at the end of March? Council tax bill, that sort of thing, or is it a more esoteric system in this kind of situation? Sorry if I'm being thick - I've moved house twice in similar circumstances wrt school applications, but the catchment criteria weren't quite as tight.

he replied to say sorry, he is not being unreasonable in wanting his home back and good luck with our daughter's schooling. How nasty can one person be? It is a crucial time for us as a family and he doesn't give a damn

He isn't being nasty, it is one of the pitfalls of renting. he isn't actually doing anything wrong. Maybe your family staying an extra 2 months just isn't viable for him, nothing to do with him not giving a damn.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 10-Jan-13 11:14:31

Sorry you are in this situation. If you do end up leaving before the deadline have you considered bending the rules slightly and using a post office redirect for 3 months to ensure you still get correspondence at this address?

EllieArroway Thu 10-Jan-13 11:14:36

I do agree, however, oink that reasoned negotiation with your LL should be your first step, rather than barging in with all legal guns blazing. Yes, you have a perfect right to remain in the property until a court bailiff shows up (probably likely to be about 5/6 months from now) but you probably will lose a decent reference & they are worth their weight in gold.

brianhaddock Thu 10-Jan-13 11:20:13

If it were me i would call up and speak to the school admissions people and ascertain exactly what documents you will be required to submit as proof of address (devise a non elaborate story about hearing different things from folk and wanting to get your ducks in a row now). I don't recall having to supply any document that proved we were still living at the address we applied from. I'm fairly sure it was a more general 'recent' or 'within the last 2 months' type request. If they confirm this then you have no reason to be concerned about not being able to accept a place offered, even if you have moved.

I am pleased though that i am not alone in being cross at the advice being given to stay beyond the additional month offered and force your landlord to evict. As the majority of posters have stated, your landlord has done nothing wrong and has in fact allowed you to stay an extra month. To force him to go down the legal route, consulting and appointing a solicitor and paying court fees will amount to several hundred pounds. We had to do it recently for my mother, where the required notices has all been served correctly, it costs plenty and is a complete PITA. I believe though that depending on who the landlord uses to undertake the process, some of these costs can be reclaimed from your deposit (or so we were advised anyway - irrelevant in our case as the place was trashed and the whole deposit was handed to mum) so you should keep this in mind too. He wants his property back for whatever reason and he is completely entitled to request it.

Yes, you have a perfect right to remain in the property until a court bailiff shows up (probably likely to be about 5/6 months from now)

Actually, no she doesnt have the right at all!! The LL has done nothing wrong, he is just not re-newing the tenancy. Why should the OP ignore this, and stay till the bailiffs arrive just because she is worrying about schools etc. if you rent there is always a change the contract will not be re-newed, it's just one of the downsides.

The LL will instruct the bailiffs if the tenants don't move out on the specified day,, it doesnt take that long once the ball is rolling so OP certainly would not have another 6 months anyway.

oinkyoink Thu 10-Jan-13 11:25:08

thank you all for your comments, it has really helped me (esp with a husband whose head is in the sand on this).

I will check with the school dreaming and see if there is actually an issue re address change then if there is, I will attempt to negotiate with landlord a little longer. If he isn't willing I will see if there is benefit in using the legal side of things as we have not been given a written section 21 notice, we only received a call from the agency (upon his instruction) to say we have to leave at end of tenancy. Very strange considering they are a high profile and apparently professional agency.

Thanks again! If anyone else has any useful comments, please post.

I am sure the agents would have done everything properly if they are a decent one.

If you stay past the date your contract finishes the LL will give you a dreadful reference and no other LL will touch you.

My useful comment would be start looking for somewhere now and stop looking for ways to stay squat in some one elses house.

I think that sounds like a good plan. Good luck!!

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