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Hi,

 

first of, just to let you know what I have:

 

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (6 month fixed) which started 16 Nov 2011, it's now a monthly periodic.

 

The letting agents, only having just ventured into private letting (monthly) for the first time ever, issued me with an AST which is a bit of a frankenstein AST.

 

By this I mean:

 

  • When dates and "months" are mentioned, they used the lunar (not 28 day calendar) as reference.
  • Tenancy, as quoted "The tenancy begging -3 Oct 2011 and is for a fixed term of 6 months and ends on Mid-day on 03 April 2012 subject to terms in this agreement."
  • Rent, quoted as "Total Monthly Charge £450"

 

Rent is to be paid, in advance for the following month i.e. from the 3rd of the month to the 3rd of the next.

 

Then when they mention under "changes in rent", this is how the terms are listed out:

 

  • We may review the rent due for the premises at any time after six months from the commencement of the tenancy, provided you are given 4 weks notice of such charges
  • We usually increase rents with effect from the First Monday in April each year, but reserve the right to increase on another date. We can reduce the rent at any time.

 

The on the 9th October 2012 (part way through the month 03 Oct - 03 Nov) they wrote to me the following:

 

Dear Adridude,

 

This letter gives you four weeks notice of a rental increase on this property which will commence 06 November 2012.

 

The new rental means your weekly rent will be £114.23 instead of £103.84 (per month £495 instead of £450)....

 

What happened is that the rent change happened mid-month i.e. 03 Mov - 06 Nov was £450 / mo then 06 Nov onwards was £495.

 

The Shelter helpline have told me that how it works on month periodicals is that:

 

1) When notice is served, that notice period starts at the first day of the next period and if the notice period continues into another period, the notice changes take effect from the start of the next period from the notice period end date.

2) Rent changes can only take effect from the start of the period after after the notice period has ended.

 

(or something to that effect) I got a little confused as the council told me a whole other story (which I will explain later in the thread)..

 

Am I right in thinking that, the notice period should have started as of the beginning of the next i.e 03 November meaning that the rent increase should have taken effect as of 03 December 2013.

 

Another question, looking back at the history of my account, this has happened each of the 3 times. In one case I received a letter in April stating that the rent wasn't going to increase that April, but it did anyway in November? Can they do that?

 

Finally, the rent increase in question here has been in dispute since it happened. Whilst disputing it, I notified the Council to get the HB raised to cover it so I don't go into debt because of credit reports etc... so they did. The dispute happened for months and months with no budging from the LL.

 

Finally, the person who was handling the dispute left the company entirely and left it all to a bunch of people with no organisational skills. From here on (mid 2013) noe o the repairs are being done, which I'm also disputing, amongst others things and somehow the whole dispute "vanished"...

 

Early this year I received a letter about "arrears" of about 2 weeks (as HB weren't paying the full amount). I contacted them, set up a payment arrangement and make it VERY clear in writing and with each bank transfer that they are nothing but "TOKEN" payments.

 

I've asked time and time again to review the dispute as the increase wasn't even agreed, plus all their dates are wrong, but they seem more interested in collecting arrears. than dealing with this.

 

Can someone have a nose over this and have a look at how I could approach this?

 

Cheers,

 

A

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Common sense would suggest that a rent review clause that did not specify an amount (or relate it to the inflation rate in some way) would not be allowed. The OFT agreed in 3:102 of this document:

 

http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/reports/unfair_contract_terms/oft356.pdf

 

Alternatively, a rent increase can be proposed by giving a month's notice using a Section 13 notice. Such a rise can only happen 12 months or more after the last rise.

 

Otherwise, assuming you have always made it clear that you do not agree to a rent rise, it may be that the rent rise is invalid.

 

How you approach it is obviously difficult. If you refuse to pay they may issue a Section 21 to evict you.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi,

 

Thanks for the reply and apologies for the long silence... I've had a word with:

 

1) Shelter

2) Community Legal "whatever they are now" lol

3) And a Freebie "first 30 mins" lawyer about this

 

and they all confirmed:

 

1) If you're on a monthly tenancy (AST, fixed term turned periodic), despite what the contract says, reasonable notice is "one term", i.e. in my case "one lunar month" not the "28 day month"

2) When notice is serviced by letter, and not by S.13 of the Housing Act, the notice period STARTS as from the first say of the next period, allowing reasonable notice

3) When the notice has been served and exhausted, its effects can only take place as from the start of the next period after it expired

 

All of the above only applies if the rent increase wasn't even agreed in the first place in writing.

 

Just a on a note to others. This is all very well, but you risk getting serviced a S.21 Notice for Possession (Eviction) if the Landlord/lady decides to be an evil one about it.

 

TAKE HEED OF THE ABOVE.

 

In my case I have backups, so this won't really bother me.. What bothers me is being taken for a ride.

 

Anyway, I'll keep good notes on this as the parent company of this little letting agent is a big housing association which should know better.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just to update any onlookers,

 

There's been some good news. It appears that my complaint directly to their group Chairman has scared the M.D. into a meeting with me next week.

 

I did some research, and between shelter, CAB and legislation.gov.uk it is every clear that:

 

1) The rent increase was unlawful and therefore cannot be applied as a "reasonable notice period" needs to be given and must start on the day after the end of the current period.

2) Reasonable notice is exactly one period.

 

So i've got it clearly backed that this increase cannot be applied.

 

Lets see how this meeting goes.. They've allowed me to record the contents of the meeting provided that they are given copies of the recording at the end of the meeting, which I can do there and then. So this time they won't have a leg to stand on :)

 

Edit, I'll update after the meeting with the M.D. and possibly some excerpts from there recording.

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What has the LL got to say about all this, Is it the LL or agent driving this?

Suggest you speak to LL direct!

As anything you agree with agent, may not be ok with LL.

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  • 1 month later...

The agent is driving all of this. I've got back near to £900 in regards to the most recent arrears and they've apologised, but in the same letter have missed me a S21 (LOL!).. Anyhow, that just gave me cause to go after the other rent increases (all within 6 years) which are also incorrect, getting me another near to £1000 + interest.

 

Then there is the matter that their parent company, the one whose logo appears on the letterheads etc... is a massive housing association which usually deals with social letting. I wonder how interested the local Borough Council will be when I waltz in there with their overpaid HB in my hand :)

 

I'm more than certain that any other "monthly" contract issued was done so with the same shoddy contract template. That would account for quite a bit of the south east seeing as they're one of the more dominant names on the social market (at first glance with google) :D

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