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LL selling flat - what's our obligation?

(64 Posts)
TheFantasticFixit Sun 26-Jan-14 23:35:41

Our (private) landlord, who is fairly decent has decided to out our flat on the market.

TheFantasticFixit Sun 26-Jan-14 23:50:19

Argh... Sorry. Pressed send too soon!

So the flat is going on the market. We have decided to leave before the 2 month deadline and have given a months notice back, mainly because of the viewings etc.

During the tenancy we have made requests for some minor repairs to be done that have been put off - basic stuff like painting, floor issues etc and unsurprisingly the LL now wants to sort this stuff out before viewings take place. Only he is only giving one day in a week on a basis of 'I'm coming then, that's it' attitude. It's not convenient on the day he has chosen AT ALL as we have guests and irritating that he suddenly springs into action now.

However, the main issue is the viewings etc. we've already accommodated three separate valuations of the property. He has not been in attendance for those but rather expected us to be here for EA to come in and answer any questions that the EAs have had. Stupidly, for good relations I did it.

He's now emailed to say that he will instruct an EA tomorrow and to expect contact from them regarding viewings. To be honest, I need this like a hole in the head. I'm 34 weeks pregnant and have a toddler. (So not drip feeding - I'm now at home for maternity leave following a leave of absence from work for anxiety). What are our obligations for the viewings?
Do we have to accept this for the next 3 weeks?
Do we have to accept photographs being taken and published in details? We rent on an unfurnished basis so everything in the property is ours.
Is there anything we can do to minimise the disruption - ie restricting times for viewings etc. I'm particularly concerned about evening viewings clashing with tea/bedtime for our toddler.

I know that technically we don't have to tidy up for viewings but honestly I couldn't bear people coming into our 'home' and feeling judged by them so have the added stress of ensuring the property is tidy all the time - no mean feat heavily pregnant and with a toddler in tow!

It feels like we have all the pain and stress of the viewings/early sale for absolutely no gain and no say about what is happening - and as this is London, we pay a LOT of money for this to be our 'home', right up to the last day!

beaglesaresweet Mon 27-Jan-14 00:15:16

It's asolutely normal to name a time slot that's convenient to you - even non-tenants do this. Say, only lunchtimes or only saturdays, or even let then arrange one open day like a Sat - it's the usual for London as people usually offer very quickly, often after one open day. At least then you have to tidy up once (hopefully). LL can't force you to do anything else - and if you are pg he really NEEDS to be considerate.

RCheshire Mon 27-Jan-14 01:40:53

Our rental was up for sale for 2 years whilst we were tenants. We had baby and toddler for some of that. We were quite firm on exactly which times/days were acceptable - and we weren't very flexible, not through awkwardness but because very few times are good when you have two napping at different times!

We certainly didn't tidy up (although I understand some maybe more houseproud than us!).

They had photos from the empty house before we moved in. Certainly not sure how I'd feel about photos of all my furnishings/belongings.

greenfolder Mon 27-Jan-14 06:50:20

Nope, you are entitled to quiet enjoyment. I had thIs when we rented one house,similarly with a small baby and toddler. I tolerated it for exactly one week. One woman came to view in the dark at teatime and tutted when I would not describe the garden to her. After that I told ea that they could do viewings after we had gone.

JackieBrambles Mon 27-Jan-14 07:39:46

Definitely suggest open day - we sold our flat that way in London. A Saturday is best - we had 22 viewings in a 2 hour period and sold the Monday after so it could be v quick if they do it that way. Be firm with the EA - they will understand re the toddler (we have a baby too).

Not sure you can do much about the pics of your stuff though.

TheFantasticFixit Mon 27-Jan-14 09:27:34

Thanks all. The open day sounds like a great idea and I'll definitely suggest that to them. We have that clause in our contract about allowing access with 24 hours notice and the LL is now determined to exercise that right. Obviously it means everything needs to effectively go on hold and both of our birthdays are this month - so there goes any guests staying over at the weekend hmm

I wish that they would wait until we have gone to do the viewings, it's so bloody invasive!

Notawordfromtheladybird Mon 27-Jan-14 09:48:16

The LL doesn't have that right at all. Just because it says that in your contract doesn't mean he can enforce it. In other words, if you refused and said you would prefer all repairs take place in 3 weeks (and point out as LL deemed them non urgent as you reported these at x day and he is only now arranging repairs x days later), there is absolutely nothing the LL can do. He cannot force entry even with a 24h notice. You would call the police and he'd be given a warning/talking to by them. They certainly couldn't enforce a tenancy contract. Your LL would need a court order to enter.

I suggest telling him your current medical condition doesn't allow you to accommodate all these requests.
Give him an open day slot of a Saturday.

I would also not agree on your belongings being photographed. If he can't wait 3 weeks for you to move out, he can use the photos that he has when he advertised before you moved in.

Most LLs try their best not to piss off the tenant because they know the tenant can flat out refuse all the viewings etc. Your LL doesn't seem to realise this. hmm

specialsubject Mon 27-Jan-14 10:28:56

I agree - why is he making your life so difficult when you are leaving anyway? And it is London, it's not like the place will take ages to sell!

normally I suggest co-operating with viewings, but you don't have to and in this case I'd refuse, just offering an open day. You'll be gone in 3 weeks so it really isn't hard for him.

don't talk about birthdays (irrelevant for adults), but if you have guests already arranged that IS an issue. And no, you don't have to tidy up.

it is his house, but your home until you leave.

TheFantasticFixit Mon 27-Jan-14 10:57:37

Special - It is massively disappointing that he has developed this attitude. Up until now we have found him in general to be a good landlord, if a little tardy with minor requests for work.i think that they pay their mortgage with our rent if that makes sense and are now panicking that their income will drop and so are hoping to sell very quickly.

Ladybird (love your nn, my DD's favourite book!) thank you for your great advice regarding the contract. I hope not to have to exercise our rights but fear that when agents get involved it may come yo that. We have had an experience with agents being very dismissive of tenants in situ before and the agency that our LL has chosen certainly sadly lived up to it during the valuation. They didn't acknowledge me at all after I had let them in and just said 'bye' as they closed the front door after letting themselves out.. Odd!

HaveToWearHeels Mon 27-Jan-14 12:19:37

Just say the time is not convenient, nor will any time in the next 3 weeks.
It doesn't matter that he has given you 24 hrs notice, if you are not there to let him in he can not force entry.
As a LL I would just wait until you have moved out, far, far less hassle. Even if we are re marketing to let we wait for existing tenants to move out, so much less hassle.

thesaurusgirl Mon 27-Jan-14 13:41:20

Your biggest problem will be the agents and not the landlord. The agents smell a sale and have few legal obligations, whereas the landlord could find him/herself looking at a criminal charge for harassment and a long void besides.

If you want to be reasonable, agree to the open day, but remember you're doing them all a favour, they're not helping you.

If you're not much inclined to help, go on to MSE and there's a draft letter there you can email to both the agents and the landlord saying you are exercising your right to quiet enjoyment and exclusive occupation, and will no longer be allowing viewings. Change the alarm code if you have one; if you haven't, change the deadlock and change it back at the end of the tenancy.

Remember, as long as your deposit is protected in a scheme you'll be fine. Threats to keep your deposit count as harassment.

<Was tenant for 15 years, veteran of deposit disputes, never lost one>

thesaurusgirl Mon 27-Jan-14 13:46:02

Agree with Heels, smart landlords always sell empty. Professional deep clean, lick of paint, set dressing, viewings whenever you like - adds more to the asking price than they lose in rent.

Most are amateurs who think they're Sarah Beeny and fall on their arse as soon as it becomes more complicated than paying the mortgage.

specialsubject Mon 27-Jan-14 16:55:32

indeed. Selling a tenanted property to anyone except another landlord is very difficult because there is no guarantee that the tenants will go when they say.

yes, he probably does pay the mortgage with your rent. No-one is a landlord for fun, or for huge profit - usual returns are 3-5% gross.

(not suggesting that's you, OP!) Why doesn't the silly sod just wait 3 weeks?

specialsubject Mon 27-Jan-14 16:56:02

oops. I meant I'm not suggesting that the OP is not going to leave when promised.
blush

TheFantasticFixit Mon 27-Jan-14 18:48:23

Thesaurusgirl - thanks for the draft letter tip. I REALLY hope it doesn't come to us needing to use it. I've emailed the LL stating our position and what we are prepared to accept now and so we'll see what his response is. Have also requested that we share the cost of carpet cleaning if they are damaged or made grubby through the traipsing of people's wet shoes etc.

We want to be as reasonable as possible - we are leaving anyway and don't want to go on a bad note but equally I'm not prepared for the LL to take the mick and pretty much give us a nightmare just to suit himself. We wouldn't stay beyond our move date Special (wink I knew what you meant!), and will ensure that when we go we leave the property in good order and professionally clean. We are excellent tenants, the LL has never had any issue with us and in fact the property is in better order than when they lived here.

The point about the agents is really key though - I know that they will become pretty ruthless when chasing a sale and will see tenants in situ a hindrance. Like I said, the agency the LL has chosen were the rudest out of the three and very dismissive so I'm not expecting great things.

Interesting points though about giving access to the LL - I think I may have to remind him of our rights as he is really trying to hold us to the standard AST contract. He has keys and has previously said a few times that if we aren't in he will just let himself in to do XYZ when he informs us which day he is going to come for stuff that needs doing in the flat. I'm assuming from the advice here he can't do that if I don't agree it is convenient for us then? The only reason I mentioned birthdays is because obviously we would plan guests staying to celebrate with us on those two weekends which now he clearly wants to use for viewings/ sort out remedial work.

I'm not massively impressed that he is just assuming that I will tolerate paint fumes at 34 weeks pregnant either but I know that really is getting petty! blush

RCheshire Mon 27-Jan-14 19:08:46

He can only let himself in without your permission to make emergency repairs or if life is in danger. Tarting up prior to sale does not count

specialsubject Mon 27-Jan-14 19:43:46

absolutely. It is TRESPASS to go in without your permission in the circumstances that you mention. There are very few occasions that allow a landlord to 'just go in' - there's another thread where the tenants have probably done a runner and the landlord still can't go in legally!

you may want to put your point in writing. He'll just have to wait until you leave.

he may have keys but he is not allowed to use them.

Notawordfromtheladybird Mon 27-Jan-14 19:46:02

The shelter website is really good. You can even call them and they will answer specific questions. It says on there that harassment is a criminal offense. I'd be repeating that to any EA in advance. smile

HaveToWearHeels Mon 27-Jan-14 22:14:27

Exactly what specialsubject says, he may have keys but is not allowed to use them unless you have agreed. ie we hold keys for our properties that are local, just for convenience really. Over the years tenants have locked themselves out, called us and we have been able to pop round or they have come to ours for the spares. We would never let ourselves in unless agreed with the tenant before hand. Sometimes when Gas checks are due we have called the tenant and they have said it's OK we can let ourselves in, saves them having to put themselves out.

TheFantasticFixit Mon 27-Jan-14 22:21:32

Thank you so much, this is such a relief to know. We've been gritting our teeth with his visits at times that were super inconvenient - once when my daughter was ill for example - assuming that he had the right to be so direct about when he was coming. Having said that, he used to suggest visiting at 9am on Saturday mornings.. Who honestly thinks that is a sociable hour to expect you to be up/ dressed and ready for their visit? No thanks (I'm very lucky in that I have a toddler who loves to lie in until 9! wink)

I definitely feel more in control of the situation now, thanks to your advice though.. Guess we'll have to see how it I golds from here but I'm really hoping that if we are assertive about what we can tolerate it will go smoothly!

Notawordfromtheladybird Tue 28-Jan-14 13:55:43

I'd be pointing him (and copying / pasting) that shelter website. He may genuinely believe that he has the right to enter as long as he gives notice and can call police if you refuse. When I first came to this country, I too didn't realise people could put any silly condition into a tenancy contract. I assumed anything in that contract was enforceable by law, otherwise it couldn't be on the contract. Since it's such a common clause, he may think it's enforceable. I didn't know until I had to rent my place out temporarily and read up on it in detail grin

thesaurusgirl Wed 29-Jan-14 13:38:32

Specialsubject and others: trespass was a common law offence and is nowadays treated as a civil offence. You'd have to dispute through the civil courts and it's not just not worth it.

The recommended legislation for tenants is the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. You need to make sure that the agents and landlord are aware of your objections to unauthorised entry in writing; after that you just ask the police to come and have a quiet word if you have arsey emails, texts, letters or visits in person.

Agree with others that if your LL has been a good sort, his attitude now is probably due to ignorance rather than malice. Give him the benefit of the doubt. In any dispute, being extremely polite in all communications makes things substantially easier in court wink.

specialsubject Wed 29-Jan-14 13:57:45

good stuff thesaurus !

laughingeyes2013 Wed 29-Jan-14 14:07:57

I can sympathise with both sides. On the one hand you are heavily pregnant and have a busy life with house guests and a toddler, as well as your own health problems to contend with.

On the other hand, your landlord is probably losing sleep over how he will afford to pay the mortgage and bills on an empty property with no income from it as well as all the costs of his current home.

In between tenancies on my flat, I am always so grateful to tenants who clearly do their best to help me out with viewings, and have felt let down. by those who say I can show people round once a week. Not everyone who is keen to see the property can view it on the designated day and it can delay things horribly for no good reason.

I suppose I have always pride myself on the fact that I repair things immediately as though I still live there, and have always made concessions where I can at a tenants request.

However the law does say a landlord can enter a property if they give 24 hr notice with tenants consent, or immediately in an emergency. It is commonplace for contracts to state you WILL give reasonable access for viewings to re let or sell the property. If you've signed that contract you are guilty of breaching it if you aren't allowing reasonable access. However the landlord can only enforce it by way of court and that takes time.

Like I said I can see both sides. In an ideal world the landlord would have considered your estate agent preference if they were quite rude (but did he know this?) and would meet you halfway regarding painting and photos, and visits of viewings.

But, inconvenient as it it, I think it's reasonable for you to try and meet him half way too, so maybe as for the painting to be done in 3 weeks as it would be much easier to do when he property is empty, but also offer a few various times of viewings and maybe go out at those times so no one is disturbed? That way your visitors can be free to enjoy their stay with you, and you don't have to sniff paint all day long! But your landlord can see you're both meeting somewhere in the middle.

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