Check out the new websites that we will be moving to soon - [England](https://england.landlordsguild.com) or [Wales](https://wales.landlordsguild.com)
Check out the new websites that we will be moving to soon - [England](https://england.landlordsguild.com) or [Wales](https://wales.landlordsguild.com)
powered by bulletin

Question

Ending a Tenancy (England) | England | Retaliatory Evictions (England)

Retaliatory eviction?

7 Jan 2022 | 14 comments

Tenant been in property 17 years. Last AST signed 12th September 2015. On periodic since then. She has reported me to the local Environmental Health on two occasions hoping, in my view, that she would get the property fully decorated. Environmental Health have inspected the property both times and have asked me to carry out certain works from having a hand rail fitted on the stairs, to painting a step bright yellow as it was a trip hazard, to having a new front door fitted. I have never been served an HHSRS notice, as I have always had the work carried out in good time. My tenant doesn’t keep the property in a clean and tidy state, so I have problems finding workmen to return to the property. I have no deposit from this tenant as she was put in place by a rogue letting agent who defrauded hundreds of landlords and tenants in the Watford area, and subsequently went to prison. I am now at the point where I need to get a managing agent to look after the property, with tenants who will pay a deposit, and pay market rent. I therefore need to evict the current tenant, but I’m not sure of the situation regarding the ongoing situation with Environmental Health. They last inspected the property on Sept 14th 2021, and work is still ongoing. I am hoping to get as much work done whilst the tenant is still there, but I’m not planning on any decorating/flooring work until the property is empty as I cannot be sure that this would not be damaged by the current tenant, and there is no deposit. So my question is, when am I able to issue a section 21? Many thanks and Happy New Year.

Answer

14 Comments

  1. guildy

    Assuming a formal notice has not been served by the council in respect of their inspection in September, the section 21 can be served.

    There is a risk that a defence could be filed on the basis there was no adequate response to the repairs (i.e. they’ve not been done yet).

    However, in order for a retaliatory eviction to apply, the local authority would have to serve an improvement or remedial action notice to trigger. That could be served by the local authority after section 21 (and anytime up to possession order) so you’re taking a risk not getting all the works done before service.

    This article has full information as to when a retaliatory eviction applies.

  2. sambam47180

    Excellent – really helpful as always, thank you.
    I plan to get as much work done as I can before serving the notice, excluding any cosmetic work.
    Final question, the tenant has sent some photos to the environmental health officer of the front windows of the property showing condensation and, what could be, mould.
    As a result of these photos, the environmental health officer has come back to me to tell me that they don’t look fit for purpose, and that I’d need to replace them within the next 12 months.
    The property has full central heating, and when I lived in my property for 5 years and never had this problem.
    My tenant has lots of clothes drying in the property, and the property is extremely cluttered and not very clean. I saw these windows in November, and the mould could well be dirt.
    The windows are fairly substantial single glazed, small wooden framed with some bullseye panes. The downstairs is a bay and I am reluctant to change them as they add character to the property. All windows at the back are double glazed.
    Is there anywhere I can go to get a second opinion, to find out if the condensation problem is with the property, or the way that it is being lived in by the tenant? Many thanks.

  3. guildy

    The problem is that wherever you got any opinion from would have to be accepted by the local authority, which is unlikely to happen.

    To be honest, the days of single glazing are severely numbered now. Energy efficiency is going to be getting more and more intensive as time goes on, and so think the point will be mute. Double glazing will be one of the things needed to meet minimum energy standards in not that far in the future, so it might be worth taking the opportunity and consider upgrading.

  4. sambam47180

    Thanks for the response and yes, I think I may be fighting a losing battle! Will look to upgrade later on in year.

  5. sambam47180

    Dear Guildy
    Going back to my previous questions from January…
    Tenant been in property 17 years. Last AST signed 12th September 2015. On periodic since then.

    She has reported me to the local Environmental Health on two occasions. Environmental Health have inspected the property both times and have asked me to carry out certain works from having a hand rail fitted on the stairs, to painting a step bright yellow as it was a trip hazard, to having a new front door fitted. They have also flagged a problem of ‘excess cold’ as the property built of brick (they didn’t ask me to try to rectify this one)! It’s a terraced house and has full central heating.

    I have never been served an HHSRS notice, as I have always had any work they’ve asked me to do carried out in good time.
    From the most recent inspection by EH, virtually all of the improvements they flagged up were ‘advisory’ and ‘not urgent’.
    I have carried out the work for the majority of the issues, and I received an email from the contact at EH in February stating the following….

    ‘I am happy to close the case, however you still have a duty to ensure the following matters are attended to in order to prevent further deterioration over the next 12 months:

    · Replace front windows
    · Replace rear door with suitable alternative

    I have ordered a new back door, and I have informed my tenant. I have told her that it will take about 6 weeks, and I’ll let her know when I have a date for it to be fitted. She has obviously gone straight back to EH to inform them of this, as I’ve now had an email from EH asking if I have an actual date for the door to be fitted!

    I have not done any work on changing the front windows of my property as I have been told by numerous workmen that the only problem with my front windows is condensation caused by washing being dried inside the property, and an extractor fan not being used in the bathroom by my tenant. As I stated previously, the windows are fairly substantial single glazed, small wooden framed with some bullseye panes, in a bay, which add a lot of character to my property.

    Two questions – Firstly, am I really obliged to change these windows to double glazed windows even though the only evidence that the EH have that they are a problem is a photo my tenant sent to EH showing the condensation last winter? The EH DID NOT flagged these windows up as a problem when they inspected the property.
    The back of the property is all double glazed, it’s only the two front windows on the ground and first floor that aren’t as they add character. I know that you have advised me that double glazing is the way forwards, but I would really like to keep these windows if at all possible.

    Secondly, I am planning to evict the tenant this year as I am now at the point where I need to get a managing agent to look after the property, with tenants who will pay a deposit (no deposit paid as tenant put into property by rogue managing agent), and pay market rent. My tenant seems to have a hotline to the local EH, and keeping up with the ‘improvements’ that they ‘advise’ me to carry out is becoming very complicated, as most workmen won’t revisit my property due to the way my tenant lives, and the way she keeps the interior of the property. I want to make sure that the eviction is not seen as ‘Retaliatory’, so should I be OK to issue a section 21 now that the EH have ‘closed the case’?
    Many thanks.

  6. guildy

    It depends on the notices that were most recently served and whether they were improvement notices. If so, you can’t serve section 21 for 6 months. Otherwise, you will be fine to serve the notice.

    Please see here for information on retaliatory evictions

    In respect of asking for the date the back door will be done, we would just say in line with their request it will be done within 12 months!

    Regarding the front windows, we can’t imagine from what’s described that you’ll achieve a “C” EPC rating without doing them so the point might become irrelevant if and when those proposals start. That being said, no start date has been announced yet.

  7. sambam47180

    Excellent, thank you.
    I’m considering asking the tenant to pay me a deposit to protect the improvements that have been/are being carried out (I have no deposit from this tenant as she was put in place by a rogue letting agent who defrauded hundreds of landlords and tenants in the Watford area, and subsequently went to prison).
    As outlined above, tenant been in property 17 years. Last AST signed 12th September 2015. On periodic since then, so what is my position if I ask her for a deposit now? I would obviously have to register the deposit, and I would follow the guidance on your site for that, but would I have to issue a new contract? It is obviously not in my interest to do that as I want to keep her on a periodic.
    Thanks
    Sam

  8. guildy

    Firstly, you couldn’t insist on a new deposit; it would have to be agreed by the tenant.

    If the tenant agrees, it could be done by a simple email exchange outlining the agreement.

    However, detailed prescribed information must be provided in addition to protecting the deposit.

    Therefore, in our view, a new tenancy would be the easiest solution because (a) it would show the agreement of taking a deposit and (b) our Tenancy Builder includes all the prescribed information by default.

    It would also have the advantage of bringing the terms into the modern day and getting all paperwork up to date.

    You can make the fixed term anything you like, even one month. That way, it would effectively remain periodic. That being said, we would probably do a six-month because what is the likelihood of you wanting possession within six months?

    An EPC is required when the property is “marketed for rent”, but, for renewal, we would nevertheless recommend providing one along with the gas, electric and how to rent guides because if you needed possession later, it would avoid any question as to whether an EPC should have been given with the renewal.

  9. sambam47180

    Thanks for the last response – I’m pretty sure that my tenant wouldn’t agree to paying a deposit, so I think that my best option is to increase the rent, and set aside some money each month to build up a sum that I could use for repairs etc, as and when she moves out.
    The last rent increase was over 5 years ago, and the monthly rent my tenant pays is at least £200 per month under market rent value for the property, so my first question is, am I within my rights to increase the rent by £50 per month (current rent 875 per month)?

    As outlined above, my tenant has reported me to the local Environmental Health on two occasions. I have never been served an HHSRS notice, as I have always had any work they’ve asked me to do carried out in good time.
    From the most recent inspection by EH, virtually all of the improvements they flagged up were ‘advisory’ and ‘not urgent’, and I received an email from the EH contact in February stating……

    I am happy to close the case, however you still have a duty to ensure the following matters are attended to in order to prevent further deterioration over the next 12 months’:

    · Replace front windows
    · Replace rear door with suitable alternative

    As outlined above, I have ordered a new back door, and I am considering changing the front windows, but I have at least another 6 months before this needs to have been done.

    This morning I received another email from the same contact at EH informing me that the council have received further complaints about my property, so the contact from EH is due to ‘visit and asses the current condition’, and has invited me to be there when this happens (this won’t be possible as I live in France and the inspection is next week).
    The letter states that…..
    ‘I will contact you after the inspection about the next steps. Please note that if it is necessary for the council to serve a
    legal notice under this Act, a charge of £262 per notice will be payable to cover costs. If an imminent risk of serious
    harm is identified, the council may take emergency action. You will be liable for the cost of this action. I hope that this
    will not be necessary and that we can work together to resolve any issues.’

    My tenant hasn’t contacted me regarding any problems, and the property was last inspected by the EH in January, and work signed off by EH in February of this year. My tenant just seems to be able to contact them when when she’s not happy with something, and this is causing me huge amounts of stress, and I am starting to feel threatened and bullied by the letters and emails I am receiving from EH. I would like to speak to EH to question my tenants motives, and also question why they seem to act as soon as she contacts them, instead of them advising her to contact me first with any problems which could be sorted out between myself and my tenant. So my second question is, do I have to just accept the situation, or have I got the right to question why my tenant can simply contact EH and get them to act, without contacting me to inform me of any problems with the property in the first instance?

  10. guildy

    We have no problem contacting them and explaining that you’ve had no contact from the tenant and why they haven’t asked them to do that before arranging a visit.

    But, although morally wrong, they’re not doing anything unlawful by acting and visiting.

    You could also remind them that the matter is closed regarding those items and will be done within the 12 months as requested in the email.

  11. sambam47180

    Brilliant, thank you. I will ask EH why they are not asking my tenant if she has contacted me to deal with any problems in the first place.
    Just to confirm, am I within my rights to increase the rent? Last increase over 5 years ago, and tenant paying at least £200 per month under rental value for the property.

  12. sambam47180

    Great, thank you. Just looked back at rent records, and last increase was actually by £25 per month 2 years ago. Looked at your link and under a section 13 I see that it can’t be increased more than once in any 12 month period, so assuming that I can increase the rent now as last increase was 24 months ago? Just want to make sure that I’m within my rights to increase it, even with EH inspecting property.

Submit a Comment

View your previously asked questions. (Will only show questions from August 2020)

(Link above back to topic only works for questions added after end of August 2020)