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Can a Landlord legally do this?


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Hi all,

I hope someone can help me with this one. My son took out a 6 month tenancy in October '97, but because of a mix up with Housing Benefit the landlord sent him a Notice to Quit letter in December stating that he would not be willing to let him stay on after that. My son tried to find somewhere, but was unable to by April and so continued to stay in the property waiting to be evicted. (Not right I know, but better than being homeless.) During this time the majority of his rent was paid by Housing Benefit, with him paying the shortfall.

He was finally able to find a new place and let his landlord know. He now says that he was on a periodic tenancy and had to give 4 weeks notice. As such he owes 4 weeks rent. I signed the original agreement as guarantor and now he says that original contract still stands. Can he do this after giving notice to quit?

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Unlike some posters here and elsewhere who often seem to give black and white answers without quoting sources, yours is definitely grey.

 

There are two schools of thought. First is that as your son was served notice (which should say something like "after xx/xx/2008..) by the landlord, after the notice has expired he can leave on any date, just paying a daily rate until he vacates. Second is that regardless of notice being served, as it has gone periodic, the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 s5 comes into play and notice must end the day before the rent day, and be a minimum of four weeks.

 

It would have been helpful if you had given more detail on what comprised the landlords Notice to Quit. It is quite possible that this was invalid, in which case your son would need to give notice.

Edited by Esio Trot

On some things I am very knowledgeable, on other things I am stupid. Trouble is, sometimes I discover that the former is the latter or vice versa, and I don't know this until later - maybe even much later. Read anything I write with the above in mind.

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Thanks so much Esio Trot - I've been worried sick about this. The whole episode has been a nightmare from beginning to end. When Housing Benefit lost my son's claim the landlord told him he didn't believe he'd put one in and immediately started demanding money from me as guarantor. When the claim was found there was no apology for calling my son a liar, just a comment that Housing Benefit are always losing claims! My son has mental health issues and got this tenancy through his support worker, but the landlord has hassled both my son and I constantly. I'm sorry for the rant, it's just such a relief to be able to explain our situation.

In reply, this is the wording on the letter sent to my son. I'm not sure if it is a legal Notice to Quit, but it does imply that he is not willing to let my son go over to periodic tenancy. What do you think?

We are writing to give you written notice that you must vacate the above property at the end of your tenancy agreement. Usually we would allow tenants to remain in a property as long as they wished under a periodic tenancy but as your case has caused such a disproportionate amount of administration and as we have not received any response to a number of our letters, and have encountered reluctance to respond to matters relating to the housing benefit department, we have decided we must find a more suitable tenant for this property.

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That is not a valid notice. Whether this means that he now has to give notice is a topic for debate....I disagree with Esio that it means he does, but a) I can see both sides and b) I cant think of a valid LEGAL argument that says he wouldnt have to give notice, so I would be inclined to go with Esio on this one...

7 years in retail customer service

 

Expertise in letting and rental law for 6 years

 

By trade - I'm an IT engineer working in the housing sector.

 

Please note that any posts made by myself are for information only and should not and must not be taken as correct or factual. If in doubt, consult with a solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

 

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I don't think you will need to see a lawyer - you might not get that much information anyway as most lawyers are generalists, and landlord/tenant law is a field in itself.

 

One key element that has not been raised on your thread is deposit protection. The contract was entered into after the mandatory scheme came into force, so was your son's deposit protected?

 

If it wasn't then the landlord has a big problem. If it was, then there are rules for the landlord to follow before he can get his hands on any of the deposit, and if there is no agreement then it goes to an independent arbitrator (at no cost to your son) to decide deductions, if any.

On some things I am very knowledgeable, on other things I am stupid. Trouble is, sometimes I discover that the former is the latter or vice versa, and I don't know this until later - maybe even much later. Read anything I write with the above in mind.

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Hi Esio Trot,

I've no idea if it was protected - how would I find out and why does not having protection mean trouble for my landlord and not my son? When we handed it over the landlord did say that if it was a gift from me to my son that was better for him than if I was loaning ot to him, but I don't know why.

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Sounds like the landlord is trying to duck and dive.

 

Was there a receipt given for the deposit?

What does the tenancy agreement say about the deposit?

 

With effect from 6 April 2007 if any deposit received is not protected, then any notice that the landlord gave or gives is not valid. Also, there could be a liability for him to pay three times the deposit as compensation to your son as a penalty for not protecting it.

 

Any deposit must be protected in one of three schemes. Type "deposit protection" into a search engine and you will get chapter and verse. If the deposit was protected then within 14 days your son's landlord is required to give him information about how it is protected and with whom etc.

On some things I am very knowledgeable, on other things I am stupid. Trouble is, sometimes I discover that the former is the latter or vice versa, and I don't know this until later - maybe even much later. Read anything I write with the above in mind.

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Hi Esio Trot,

Have checked with my son and it is protected. He's reading through the paperwork to see what it says. We're not sure if the landlord is withholding it for 4 weeks because he argues the tenancy doesn't end till then, or if it is to take the 4 weeks rent he claims my son owes. The worry is that now my son has moved out and handed over the key anything could happen to the flat and be blamed on my son so the landlord could keep the deposit and demand 4 weeks rent (which I'm afraid I wouldn't put past him). I'm wondering if my son is entitled to ask for the key to be returned until the date the landlord states is the end of the tenancy.

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The deposit protection may not be valid if it was not done within 14 days of the initial receipt of the deposit by the Landlord. The LL would also have had to provide details within that time.

 

I seem to remember reading that if someone is served with a notice that is 'incorrect', they can either ignore it, or act on it. If they act on it, it should be assumed that it was valid if the tenant chooses to 'rely' on it. Can someone confirm this?

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