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(21 Posts)
Dummymumm Thu 07-Aug-08 00:12:49

OK i have emailed shelter but i wondered if anyone else has any experience? here is the message i sent them.

i have an assured shorthold tenancy with my landlord for 12 months. he renewed it in november 2006, but didn't renew it again. i don't know if this still makes me an assured shorthold tenant or another type of tenant? this is relevant at present because i am having problems with my landlord. he is failing to maintain this property to such a degree that i now feel it is unsafe to continue to live here. environmental health are currently taking formal action against him for some of these problems.

i suffer from mental health issues and trying to raise my children in this house is becoming unbearable and the thought of having to go through months of legal action each time i need an essential repair to be carried out is making my depression and anxiety more acute. some of the repairs have been outstanding since the start of the tenancy. they include unsafe electrics, damp and no front door currently. the boiler was condemned in march after environmental health ordered a gas test.

our household income is low at the moment. i am not working and we have a 2 year old and a baby. my partner is in full time employment but we are receiving partial housing benefit (£53.64pw, rent is £133.85pw). we have applied for council housing but are considered to be low priority. both of our credit ratings are extremely poor. we have no savings or assets and no way of borrowing a deposit to move to another private rented property. the situation is having a devastating effect on our family and we are now desperate to move. the only way we can see of doing this is by withholding the rent from now on, so that we can raise the funds for a deposit on a new home. obviously this is going to lead to the landlord serving notice upon me.

i need to know what the minimum required notice is that he can serve upon me bearing in mind that we will then be in rent arrears. i am confused about whether it is 2 months or 14 days? i believe that we could find another property within the 2 month period but it is unlikely if he can serve 14 days' notice. he has my £1200 deposit to cover the last 2 months rent and we haven't damaged the property in any way (far from it, we have paid out of our own pocket for some repairs)

also, does my landlord have a legal obligation to provide me with a copy of the rent account? he has never done this and i would like to check it as housing benefit were paying him directly for most of the tenancy. he has claimed not to have received payments that i have proof of (my bank statements and counter receipts from paying cash into his account).

sorry, i know it's long but i am desperate to know where we stand.

mammya Thu 07-Aug-08 00:17:41

I am no expert, but I think that if you have continued to live in the property after the contract finished and that your landlord hasn't served you a notice to quit, then your contract is deemed to have been renewed tacitly.

Also I know that it is not advisable to withhold rent.

Hopefully someone will come along with more useful info. Shelter have been really helpful to me in the past when I have had problems with my landlord.

Good luck, I know how rotten it is to have a bad landlord.

fortyplus Thu 07-Aug-08 00:27:55

Have you spoken to the Housing Needs office at your local council? I work in Housing but I don't know much that will help you, I'm afraid. I do know that it will be hard for him to evict you when you have a child - even if you haven't paid the rent for a while.

I think you'll find that if you are paying rent and he hasn't given you notice then your tenancy continues indefinitely. We used to rent out my grandad's old house and that's what happened with that - the tenancy period in our case was 6 months and basically just gave us the chance to get rid of a bad tenant after that time. In our case the tenant had to give us one month's notice but we had to give them two months. That was back in 1999 so things may have changed now.

My advice would be print a copy of your e-mail and go to the council tomorrow and fill out an application for Social Housing. If your current property is not of a lettable standard and you have two young children then you ought to be a high priority.

SheSellsSeashellsByTheSeashore Thu 07-Aug-08 01:02:02

okay first off he has to go serve you with a notice of evtciton for 1 month after which if you refuse to leave your property he has to go to court to seek an evcition notice, the courts have a waiting list so this will take at least two weeks and after that the courts give you notice of at least 28 days so as far as eviction goes you are fine short term but dont forget that most private lanlords need references from previous landlords are you willing to explain why you owe money?

after the 28 days all councils have an obligation to house/shelter you (even if only in a b and b) for at least 28 days while you look for alternative accomadtion.

and lastly i suspect we have the same landlord <though if we did you would be asking "can my landlord force his way into my home to threaten me in front of my dc's?"> how did you get enviromental health onto him? i could do with that.

fortyplus Thu 07-Aug-08 01:11:36

They don't have an obligation to house anyone who is 'intentionally homeless'. eg teenager slaps his mum who throws him out - he didn't want to be homeless but homelessness was caused by his own 'unreasonable' action so council has no obligation to offer accommodation.

So... it's best to get advice from the Housing Needs office first about how she will stand under the circumstances. Most likely they will visit her flat to assess its condition and allocate priority based on that.

Where I work a guy came in who lived in a houseboat that was sinking and they wouldn't rehouse him!

SheSellsSeashellsByTheSeashore Thu 07-Aug-08 01:17:39

yes but you will not be found intentionally homeless if you refused to pay rent because of lack of repair to your home and they *are^ required to at the very least provide you witgh shelter while invetsigating whether you are intentionally homeless.

fortyplus Thu 07-Aug-08 01:47:18

I'd still be wary... I've seen too many people leaving disappointed. We have 10,600 properties and 5,000 people waiting for them. So an obligation to provide 'shelter' would only be a B&B - hardly an improvement on the current situation.

Landlords like this make my blood boil - it's why people are so desperate to get council housing - there is an obligation to meet the lettable standard.

Having said that, something like the OP's problem re: no front door seems crazy, but a legal test case against a council as landlord determined that it was not unreasonable to take seven days to replace a missing front door!

SheSellsSeashellsByTheSeashore Thu 07-Aug-08 01:58:06

yes i understand that! but was i was trying to say to the op is that the coucil have to at least provide you with something for at least 28 days after a court eviction notice has expired. so that imo give you at the very least three months after actual eviction notice was served.

i was lucky my landlord, it seems, realised that no one else would be dim enough or poor enough to rent his house from him and never went down the route of court order evictions. though he did keep trying to tell me that i didnt know "who he was" or "who he knew" hmm tell me about it lovey we all know some one grin

but i was advised by the council that it takes a long time to evict some one legally. though sadly illegal evictions still take place there are tougher penalties to disuede landlords from going down this route.

fortyplus Thu 07-Aug-08 02:23:29

Yes - courts are reluctant to issue an eviction notice when young children arec involved. I just think that her landlord is taking her for a ride but she needs some good sound local advice from Housing Needs so she knows exactly where she stands. And I agree that her landlors is likely to want to keep her there - if the proprty is so bad then it will be hard to re-let.

Dummymumm Thu 07-Aug-08 09:30:03

hiya, i HAVE applied for social/council housing but there is such a high demand and we simply get a few extra points for the repair issues. i called environmental health and they just came out, inspected and took photographs, served an 'informal' notice. since he has failed to complete catagory 1 and 2 hazards, he is now being served a 'formal' notice. my front door has been broken since april. glass missing so someone could reach in and open door from inside.

i applied for a warm front grant and got approved for cavity wall/loft insulation etc over £2.5k worth of improvements that wouldn't cost him a penny or inconvenience him in any way. landlord has refused to sign their forms. therefore, i don't think he would provide a reference even if i did carry on paying. a copy of my rent account would prove this to any prospective landlord?

Dummymumm Thu 07-Aug-08 15:54:23


LIZS Thu 07-Aug-08 17:43:47

Under the tenancy (the Assured Shorthold conditions just roll on after the term expires) he can give 2 months notice wiht no reason. However if you don't pay the rent other regulations come into force as you would be in breech of the contract so he could , for example, apply for an eviction order.

Dummymumm Thu 07-Aug-08 21:21:13

that is what i need to clarify first - if i do go into arrears how long is the minimum notice he has to give?

it seems so unfair as he has been breaching the contract since the start of tenancy by not completeing repairs. i have tried to think of other ways to raise a deposit and i can't. if i withhold rent, i can do it in about 4-6 weeks.

Dummymumm Thu 07-Aug-08 21:53:10


LIZS Fri 08-Aug-08 08:43:36

He can start sending letters as early as a week overdue. In practice I suspect it could take longer than a month to go through the various formal letters, give you notice to quit(which could be as little as 2 weeks) and start court proceedings to repossess and sue you for the unpaid rent. Shelter or CAB are probably your best sources of specific advice. If you receive HB but don't pay the rent it can be reported to the council.

willweeversell Fri 08-Aug-08 20:57:25


Really feel for you and your family.

I know little about housing issues but wondered if yoiur gp would be willing to write to the council to say your totally inadequate, no, hazardous accomodation is having a detrimental effect on your mental health? This should bump you up the list surely. Also do your dc's or Dp have any health issues that could be attributed or exacerbated by the housing?

TBh, and its just my personal opinion, I could not live under these conditions and I think I would withold my rent and then look as hard as I could for something else.

Hope someone else can offer some more concrete advice!

fortyplus Sat 09-Aug-08 11:50:15

Dummymumm - good luck - haven't been online since Thurs. I still think that your best bet will be to talk to Housing Needs at the council. Even if they can't offer you social housing they will advise you of the local situation. eg where I work we promote private landlords offering property to people in housing need via rent guarantees, etc. So if your current home is unfit then they should help you even if they're not in a position to offer social housing. But do be very wary of withholding rent without taking proper advice first. I would suggest that you send a registered letter to your landlord giving him 28 days notice to carry out the essential repairs or you will start to withhold rent. BUT - ask your local housing needs officers or citizens advice bureau whether they agree that this is appropriate action in your case. smile

Ready4anotherCoffee Sat 09-Aug-08 11:58:25

At a tangent I know, but does your local council offer a rent gurantee scheme for people who need a home, have no deposit, and can't wait or don't qualify for social housing?

good luck with it.

fortyplus Sat 09-Aug-08 12:10:25

Wasn't that what I just said? wink
'eg where I work we promote private landlords offering property to people in housing need via rent guarantees, etc.'

Dummymumm Sat 09-Aug-08 23:27:07

sorry, been busy looking for a house! the council Private Tenancy Advice service have said that even if he wants to start possession proceedings he still has to give statutory notice, but shelter agree with other posters that it could be as little as 14 days. we think we have found a house, just have to go through agency checks etc. we have worked out that it will take about 4 weeks to raise the deposit, so i am now thinking of 'getting in first' as such and giving the landlord our required notice. at the moment i have no arrears as i have been paying full rent whilst waiting for hb assessment. if he tries to evict us now i just have to hope and pray that proceedings take long enough. the council have had copies of environmental health reports and have my gp/hv details as they like to contact other agencies directly to find out further details of health problems.

we do have deposit bond schemes but most landlords wont accept them.

thank you to all of you who have posted advice. it is much more stressful than i would have anticipated before experiencing this situation first hand xx

makkapakkamoo Tue 12-Aug-08 20:16:21

Quick update (it's DM btw) i have found a new house! Yippee. We went to look at it on saturday and the agency phoned today to say we have passed all their checks. My current landlord hasn't contacted me yet about rent arrears (i stopped last friday's standing order) but even if he serves the 14-day eviction notice now, and then goes to court for possession, we should be settled in a safe, warm and secure home. Thank you again to everyone who posted x

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