Discussion Forum
Unscrupulous Landlords

From Warren Ellison
Sunday, 1 February 2009

Just wondering whether anyone else in Hebden in suffering from landlords that treat them unfairly? I have been renting Chiserly Barn in Old Town for 3 months. The landlord suddenly declared that he wants the property back and has given the two of us that have been sharing it a month to leave. He told us that it was because he could get more money for the property if he rents it to one occupier so we offered to increase the rent, he said no and continues to insist we leave. We are both professionals in our 40s and hardly live the high life so there is no issue in terms of damage to the property.

I was wondering whether anyone else has had issues with unreasonable landlords in and around Hebden. It's worth mentioning if only to warn other potential tenants. Rather than allowing landlords to treat a succession of tenents appallingly lets try a "rate my landlord" type thing and hit them in the pocket until they treat us well.

From Rev Tony Buglass
Monday, 2 February 2009

I wouldn't presume to call your landlord 'unscrupulous' as I don't know him. He certainly appears to think himself a sharp businessman. The real question is whether the terms of your contract allow him to simply turf you out. A month's notice is not unreasonable, depending on the terms of the contract and the reasons for termination.

I'm assuming you have taken some advice, talked to CAB, etc? You might have some leverage...

From Jack Hughes
Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The Reverend really doesn't think a month's notice is unreasonable? Oh Lord. Were my landlord ever to give me a month's notice-to-quit, who would wind up looking after the ex-church organ I so relish playing tritones on? That's my main worry. Anyway, this site may be a handy resource for vulnerable tenants, of whom I know a few;


From Burty Glavnesso
Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Hey, don't knock Tony, I'm with him on this - 1 month is a perfectly reasonable notice period. Even assuming someone being evicted has a full-time job (and I guess most evictees won't have a full-time job) they've got 3 full weekends to look for a house and then 1 full weekend to move all their stuff to their new place. How long does it really take to look for a house? Just find somewhere that's free and move in - job done. Asking for more than a whole month to relocate and find a suitable home for you and your family is just yet more pandering to the liberals and the lazy, good on you Tony for being brave enough to speak up about this.

From Rev Tony Buglass
Wednesday, 4 February 2009

I did say "depending on the terms of the contract." I've seen a few with notice to quit as a month by either party. If you don't think that's a reasonable contract, you don't sign it in the first place - unless, of course, that's the only contract going. Or there's a local cabal excluding longer-term lets.

That's why I suggested taking advice.

From Jason Elliott
Wednesday, 4 February 2009

It sounds as though you have been very unlucky here as, fortunately, most private landlords are not like this.

Our landlord is absolutely superb and has replaced the central heating system, provided the occasional services of a gardener when needed, contributed towards decorating costs amongst many other things.

During the three years we have been in the house, the rest has only gone up once, and by only £20 a month at that.

However, it sounds as though things are a little different with you, so you need to be aware that the terms of notice depend on the type of contract you have but, under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (which is almost certain to be the case here) a tenant can be evicted fairly easily if your landlord is claiming you have done something wrong (such as not paying the rent) and you may only get two weeks' notice, and it has to be in writing.

If your landlord doesn't have a reason to evict you, as implied in the case here, Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 as amended by the Housing Act 1996 requires that the landlord provides tenants with a minimum of two months' notice, or the same period for which rent is paid, whichever is longer, in writing, stating that possession of the property is sought. The two months starts when you, the tenant, receives the notice not when the notice was written or posted. As your tenancy is monthly, the notice should end the day before your second month's rent is due.

If you don't leave by the end of the notice period, your landlord can apply for a court order to get you evicted but a Section 21 notice must have been served before a possession order will be issued by the court.

I'm not a lawyer, so, as Tony Buglass suggested, you would do well to get some advice, maybe from the CAB in Albert Street. They're not open all the time but there is a central number in Halifax that will make an appointment for you.

From Anne Williams
Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Not knowing much about Warren’s specific circumstances, it’s difficult to make detailed comments. Regardless of circumstance, tenants have certain (albeit minimal) legal rights that cannot be over-ridden by terms of any written contract, or by a lack of any written contract.

It is likely that Warren has an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, even if he doesn’t have a written tenancy agreement.

To end a shorthold tenancy the landlord must give at least two months' notice in writing under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. If you’ve signed a 6 or 12 month (fixed-term) tenancy agreement, this could be the last two months (but in any case the landlord must still give written notice a full two months before the tenancy ends) .
Anyway it is likely that a month’s notice is not legal.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has issued guidance about unfair terms in tenancy agreements and frequently takes landlords and letting agents to task about this

It is disappointing that Rev Buglass says that one month’s notice may not be unreasonable –it is both unreasonable and unlawful. Without the legal protection which states that some terms cannot be legally written into contracts, many people would have little choice but to agree to conditions that are not fair. Especially in an unequal society, some have fewer choices, or are more vulnerable, than others. Tenants can be in a particularly vulnerable position. Unfortunately Rev. Buglass is trotting out the crude idea that simple agreement on a contract makes everything ok – this idea just doesn’t wash.

Rev Buglass should be ashamed - as I’m sure he aware, according to the Methodist Church website as, last Sunday was ‘Homelessness Sunday’ and we are halfway through ‘Poverty and Homelessness Action Week

Thanks for raising the need for awareness of tenants’ problems - tenants have minimal legal protection, and there is too little awareness of what rights they do have.

From Rev Tony Buglass
Thursday, 5 February 2009

OK, I'm ashamed, deeply ashamed, profoundly ashamed even, of my legal ignorance. (Is that ashamed enough, or do you want a bit more? It's not long 'til Lent...)

I have seen contracts specifying a month's notice on either side, but I'm not a lawyer, so I can't evaluate the legality of a contract. I'm glad you can, and did. I've stored away the knowledge for any future reference.

But I am not ashamed, really, because I did advise him to seek proper advice. And he's getting plenty of it, so that's good, isn't it?