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EPC F help

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« on: April 23, 2022, 11:46:31 AM »

Hi everyone

I need some advice. I have rented out my mother's bungalow and had tenants in situ for about nine months. I now want to sell and so issued a section 21. The tenants have now counter claimed that section 21 is not valid as it is a EPC F and that I am infact renting it with no exemption and that it is illegally rented. They also claim i am in breach of the housing act because of this and cannot use section 21.

I honestly didn't know about this epc situation and hold my hands up. Will the judge deem my application invalid? And if so what do I do next?
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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2022, 12:25:36 PM »

How close are you? Is it an option to go around, put some LED bulbs in every outlet, and get it re-EPCd? Then you have made the improvements and, despite the history, your problem should go away.
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« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2022, 12:33:07 PM »

Hi if I got the epc up before the hearing would the judge still deem it invalid as was epc f at the time of us serving them? They are also claiming the house is unfit for human habitation and wants repairs.

My issue also is I did give them an epc and a rent guide but they have said I haven't and I have no proof. Just my word.
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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2022, 06:10:35 PM »

Did they report any of the faults in the property before you served notice? They must have a copy of the EPC in order to know it is not correct.As Hippogriff says,I would certainly get someone round immediately to remedy the issues that affect the EPC,and get it rechecked.You refer to a judge,so have they actually started some legal action,or is this just talk to scare you? The most important thing is the deposit protection,hope you got that right?
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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2022, 06:28:18 PM »

They are also claiming the house is unfit for human habitation and wants repairs.

Have they made this claim to you in writing?

What exactly are their reasons for saying it is unfit for human habitation?

And, try to be objective, what is your assessment of the condition of the house?







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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2022, 07:32:37 PM »

Thank you for replying. So it went to court and they showed a letter saying house had mould and damp and was cold due to the heating and epc status. I had already said that I was going to serve a notice to quit but they complained before I actually did in writing. The last court date was adjourned and is coming up in two weeks time.

The tenants also have had an epc inspector round the property from the council who has now referred it to environmental health for an official inspection but it is scheduled for after the next hearing due to the work load they have on. In honesty the pictures they have showed court does have a lot of mould and damp in it. At the tops of the walls and ceilings mainly. It wasn't a deliberate thing as I rented it in summer and so didn't really know it woild get like that.

My main concerns are

Do I have to prove proof of service of epc rent guide etc or is my word enough
Does epc f make me in eligible to use section 21 as I have been told if I am not meeting all terms of my landlord obligations eg energy requirements I cannot use it.

And does the fact my tenant complained in writing before invalidate it even if the rest is okay?

I am aware I sound like a dreadful landlord and I am majorly kicking myself now. But here I am.

Best course of action going forward please.

And in regards ro epc I think even if I increase it the council are still going to be checking and serving a notice of some kind for the boiler electrics and condition.
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2022, 07:34:29 PM »

Did they report any of the faults in the property before you served notice? They must have a copy of the EPC in order to know it is not correct.As Hippogriff says,I would certainly get someone round immediately to remedy the issues that affect the EPC,and get it rechecked.You refer to a judge,so have they actually started some legal action,or is this just talk to scare you? The most important thing is the deposit protection,hope you got that right?

And to add they checked the status online thats how they know what the epc is. Or what has been said anyway.
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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2022, 07:36:38 PM »

Did they report any of the faults in the property before you served notice? They must have a copy of the EPC in order to know it is not correct.As Hippogriff says,I would certainly get someone round immediately to remedy the issues that affect the EPC,and get it rechecked.You refer to a judge,so have they actually started some legal action,or is this just talk to scare you? The most important thing is the deposit protection,hope you got that right?

And yes deposit I did do. Thank goodness.
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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2022, 07:59:05 PM »

They are also claiming the house is unfit for human habitation and wants repairs.

Have they made this claim to you in writing?

What exactly are their reasons for saying it is unfit for human habitation?

And, try to be objective, what is your assessment of the condition of the house?


Extreme coldness. Inadequate boiler that only gives hot water when heating is on.
Black mould in all bedrooms and living room.
Faulty electrics
Damp and condensation that has peeled paint from walls and damaged posessions
Single glazed windows that leak and have condensation in winter
 That's the exact list.

They also claim it is causing health issues.
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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2022, 10:30:11 AM »

It would have made a big difference to the advice given here if you had provided all the information. You don't mention if you have had an independant inspection done.Black mould for example is often caused by lifestyle,poor ventillation etc. When you mother lived there was the place in such a bad state? You don't say if you have had the electrical inspections carried out,or what the nature is of the complaints about the electrics. 
You won't be able to evict (or relet or sell for that matter) until you get all these things put right. I would get cracking,and at least have tradesmen round to get the place into shape.I doubt if you will be able to get much done in 2 weeks,but you could maybe request a further adjournment while you .It sounds like you have had your head in the sand,but you can't just leave this any longer.
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« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2022, 10:44:50 AM »

This highlights something that is frustrating.Some of the people who seek advice give the information very sparingly,one little detail at a time. I think maybe they fear that if they tell the full story they will be lambasted or ridiculed.They may well get that,but they will also get information and guidance that is relevant. You would not go to a doctor complaining of a sore throat say, and not bother mentioning the hideous big boils all over your body.Spit it out.I know it's hard to believe,but I am actually less than perfect myself.
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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2022, 01:25:41 PM »

Hi if I got the epc up before the hearing would the judge still deem it invalid as was epc f at the time of us serving them? They are also claiming the house is unfit for human habitation and wants repairs.

My issue also is I did give them an epc and a rent guide but they have said I haven't and I have no proof. Just my word.

Per the Housing Act 1988, Section 21A:
(1)A notice under subsection (1) or (4) of section 21 may not be given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England at a time when the landlord is in breach of a prescribed requirement.

If your notice wasn't valid at the time you served it, then you can't fix it retrospectively. It's pointless even putting it in front of a judge... apart from the comedy value of you swearing that you simultaneously gave your tenants an EPC with a rating of F, and a How To Rent guide that states all privately rented properties must have an energy performance rating of E or above.  :)

Basically you're back to square one. Either you need to fork out the money to get the property up to a minimum standard, and then issue another Section 21 or, if you're in a hurry, come to some arrangement with your tenants whereby they find themselves a better place to live and then you can sell the place to someone who's looking for a bit of a project.
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« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2022, 04:28:07 PM »

Thank you everyone and yes hold my hands up completely mortified at the whole situation. I will have to get the repairs done and then either come to an agreement with the tenant, or re serve it.

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« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2022, 04:32:09 PM »

Hi if I got the epc up before the hearing would the judge still deem it invalid as was epc f at the time of us serving them? They are also claiming the house is unfit for human habitation and wants repairs.

My issue also is I did give them an epc and a rent guide but they have said I haven't and I have no proof. Just my word.

Per the Housing Act 1988, Section 21A:
(1)A notice under subsection (1) or (4) of section 21 may not be given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England at a time when the landlord is in breach of a prescribed requirement.

If your notice wasn't valid at the time you served it, then you can't fix it retrospectively. It's pointless even putting it in front of a judge... apart from the comedy value of you swearing that you simultaneously gave your tenants an EPC with a rating of F, and a How To Rent guide that states all privately rented properties must have an energy performance rating of E or above.  :)

Basically you're back to square one. Either you need to fork out the money to get the property up to a minimum standard, and then issue another Section 21 or, if you're in a hurry, come to some arrangement with your tenants whereby they find themselves a better place to live and then you can sell the place to someone who's looking for a bit of a project.

Thank you for this. I appreciate it. Am I in breach due to the condition or the EPC F or both?

Will I have to do both improvements before re issuing section 21?

Thank you
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« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2022, 05:55:49 PM »


Thank you for this. I appreciate it. Am I in breach due to the condition or the EPC F or both?

Will I have to do both improvements before re issuing section 21?

Thank you

You can find the actual letter of the law here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/section/21A

(1)A notice under subsection (1) or (4) of section 21 may not be given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England at a time when the landlord is in breach of a prescribed requirement.

(2)The requirements that may be prescribed are requirements imposed on landlords by any enactment and which relate to—

(a)the condition of dwelling-houses or their common parts,

(b)the health and safety of occupiers of dwelling-houses, or

(c)the energy performance of dwelling-houses.


I'd say 2c scuppers you as far as the EPC goes, but I'd guess a lot of the other problems - the condensation/damp/mould and consequent health issues - would be at least partially ameliorated by whatever you do to get the rating up anyway, especially now that the weather is getting warmer.

Incidentally, I take it you provided the tenants with a Gas Safety Certificate and EICR electrical report? What were the electrical problems that the tenants reported?

You might find it useful to work your way through a flowchart like this one: https://nearlylegal.co.uk/section-21-flowchart/ - before you issue another Section 21 (if you go down that route).

You might also want to have a read through this, while you're at it: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-energy-efficiency-standard-landlord-guidance#enforcement-and-penalties



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« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2022, 06:02:32 PM »

You cannot evict a tenant who has made valid complaints about the property before you issue notice to quit.This is to prevent "revenge evictions". The usual procedure would be for EH to inspect,then issue a list of remedial work to be carried out within a given time frame.If they re-inspect and are satisfied,you are off the hook and can go ahead and serve 21.This does not mean however that the tenants will just go without further delays.
If you cannot get the council round any sooner,I would request a delay in the court case.
Another alternative would be to pay for an inspection yourself.I am not sure however how much weight this would carry legally.Others on here will be able to guide you better.One thing is certain,you will have to get  some work done before you can re-issue notice. You don't say why you want them out? Unless you plan to move in yourself,you will be unable to do anything else until the house is safe and legal.A friend who is selling her private home has had to get correct EPC  before the agent will take it on.I don't know if that is mandatory,but I doubt if your place would pass a buyer's survey. 
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« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2022, 06:51:30 PM »


Thank you for this. I appreciate it. Am I in breach due to the condition or the EPC F or both?

Will I have to do both improvements before re issuing section 21?

Thank you

You can find the actual letter of the law here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/section/21A

(1)A notice under subsection (1) or (4) of section 21 may not be given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England at a time when the landlord is in breach of a prescribed requirement.

(2)The requirements that may be prescribed are requirements imposed on landlords by any enactment and which relate to—

(a)the condition of dwelling-houses or their common parts,

(b)the health and safety of occupiers of dwelling-houses, or

(c)the energy performance of dwelling-houses.


I'd say 2c scuppers you as far as the EPC goes, but I'd guess a lot of the other problems - the condensation/damp/mould and consequent health issues - would be at least partially ameliorated by whatever you do to get the rating up anyway, especially now that the weather is getting warmer.

Incidentally, I take it you provided the tenants with a Gas Safety Certificate and EICR electrical report? What were the electrical problems that the tenants reported?

You might find it useful to work your way through a flowchart like this one: https://nearlylegal.co.uk/section-21-flowchart/ - before you issue another Section 21 (if you go down that route).

You might also want to have a read through this, while you're at it: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-energy-efficiency-standard-landlord-guidance#enforcement-and-penalties

Thanks so much for this information it is so useful. I am absolutely kicking myself. I didn't have an electrical report but there is no gas at the bungalow only heating is oil central heating but the boiler has not been serviced since my mother died. Possibly for a while before also. The box on the electrics says advised to check 2016 and hasn't been checked since 2006.
 

The electric faults are they claim the plug sockets in the kitchen and hallway short out the whole house. And also kitchen oven shorts out the house.

I have a lot of work to do thats for sure.
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« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2022, 06:54:07 PM »

You cannot evict a tenant who has made valid complaints about the property before you issue notice to quit.This is to prevent "revenge evictions". The usual procedure would be for EH to inspect,then issue a list of remedial work to be carried out within a given time frame.If they re-inspect and are satisfied,you are off the hook and can go ahead and serve 21.This does not mean however that the tenants will just go without further delays.
If you cannot get the council round any sooner,I would request a delay in the court case.
Another alternative would be to pay for an inspection yourself.I am not sure however how much weight this would carry legally.Others on here will be able to guide you better.One thing is certain,you will have to get  some work done before you can re-issue notice. You don't say why you want them out? Unless you plan to move in yourself,you will be unable to do anything else until the house is safe and legal.A friend who is selling her private home has had to get correct EPC  before the agent will take it on.I don't know if that is mandatory,but I doubt if your place would pass a buyer's survey.

Hi thank you for taking the time to reply. I think it is pointless even asking for adjournment as it has been pointed out that the notice is invalid as I was in breech at the time of serving.

I will have to try to negotiate with the tenants or try and get the work done. I plan to sell the house as I can't afford to do the work. But looks like I may have to now!
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« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2022, 07:59:53 PM »


Thanks so much for this information it is so useful. I am absolutely kicking myself. I didn't have an electrical report but there is no gas at the bungalow only heating is oil central heating but the boiler has not been serviced since my mother died. Possibly for a while before also. The box on the electrics says advised to check 2016 and hasn't been checked since 2006.
 

The electric faults are they claim the plug sockets in the kitchen and hallway short out the whole house. And also kitchen oven shorts out the house.

No use crying over spilt milk. Sometimes in life we make bad decisions but unless you're in possession of a time machine, all you can do is learn and move forward.

This is the official blurb about the need for an electrical report: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities/guide-for-landlords-electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector

I dare say the oil boiler is one of the things that's really dragging the EPC down. Are there any "easy wins" in the EPC recommendations, such as loft insulation and low energy lighting?

How does the rent on your property compare to the local market? Would your tenants be in a position to find somewhere nicer if they suddenly found themselves in possession of a couple of grand and a glowing reference? You'd then be free to freshen up the property and sell it or just put it up for auction, cut your losses and move on.
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« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2022, 11:54:11 AM »

How does the rent on your property compare to the local market? Would your tenants be in a position to find somewhere nicer if they suddenly found themselves in possession of a couple of grand and a glowing reference? You'd then be free to freshen up the property and sell it or just put it up for auction, cut your losses and move on.

This is the approach to take... small money out leading to big money in.

Don't begrudge the Tenants their current position. Hold your hands-up and advise them you can start to make the improvements now... likely impacting on their quality of life as you hire various Trades to get on with it... then, once it's all done and signed-off, you'll still need to evict them anyway... it's just that they had weeks or months of disruption and ended up in much the same place.

Or.

You can help them on their way. You can cross their palms with silver in a grown-up businesslike way (not a bribe... let's call it a quid-pro-quo) where they get some help in moving from you (your pocket, I mean) that amounts to them moving in pretty short order to somewhere much nicer than the hellhole you describe... and you sort out their moving costs, and maybe their next Deposit or first month of rent.

In that case, everyone wins. You even have choice, then, of whether to bother going through the rigmarole of doing the work... or selling it onto some eager-beaver property developer as a cash transaction, avoiding any of that red tape you associate with a mortgage buyer. Bungalows are attractive and always need doing-up, par for the course.

Then the large money comes rolling-in and the small money that left was just that. Small money.

All you need to do is be nice, work to a real-world solution, and balance-out the overall equation in your mind without letting pesky emotions get in the way.

QED.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2022, 11:56:42 AM by Hippogriff »
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« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2022, 07:48:01 PM »

Hello thank you to both of you and your valued advice. I have today emailed the tenants and offered £3000 goodwill to move out in four weeks time.

They have declined saying they wish for the repairs to be made and plan to defend the claim in court. They also have said they will be asking for rent back and a reduction  until the epc status is legal and rapairs have been made, and electric has been checked etc alongside damages for their physical health financial loss etc etc etc.

I am thinking now reach out to the council and deal with it head on and spend money i don't have to make the repairs then re serve section notice and get them out then sell it.

How likely is it that the court will award all this to the tenants? And will it have to be a super claim to the hearing for posession?

Seriously worried now as I don't have those kind of funds.

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« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2022, 09:39:20 PM »

If this was going to happen then it was always going to happen... you appear (for what it's worth) to be operating in good faith and offering a good way for them, while rectifying your mistakes or moving on.

I cannot comment on the £3,000. I don't know what the rent is, where you are located, so many variables... but, at some point, it has to become more appealing to take a bird in the hand, than it is to sit through works going on around you, while hating the time that you spend there, and just looking forward to your day in Court to have a portion of cold revenge served.

I can't provide any knowledge of where that break point might be... but the single question I'd ask is whether you've burned your bridges before now and hence you effectively have a "we'll make him pay" revenge situation as it sounds, rather than an objectively let's do what's best for everyone situation?

You offered £3,000.
In the grand scheme of things... what do you expect to gain in a sale? It's obviously a whole lot more than that paltry sum.
How close can you get to considering £3,000 as just the first step in negotiations where the outcome is something where no-one is happy?
What are your lines of communications like with the Tenant?
And why did you try to impose a very short-term timeframe on them? If they decide to leave... let them leave under their own steam (within reason)... this is about treating people with dignity as well.
People would struggle to find a suitable new place (especially a bungalow, I'd say) within a month.
There could need to be some work on your side with tone and expectations (maybe, think on it).

This is not financial advice. Obviously.

But you can counter yourself a bit by concluding you should've spent more money before that you might be looking at spending now... obviously. All a bit distasteful. I think we get that.
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« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2022, 09:17:24 AM »

Thank you, yes I completely hold my hands up this is all my fault but I really did not rent it knowingly. There was some damp and mould but I thought it was due to the bungalow being empty.

I have emailed them again and apologised for the situation and asked them if there was an avenue to work together or re negotiate. I also mentioned that they probably wouldn't want to be in the property during the repairs etc. Fingers crossed.

They have the council round there today. I got an official notice from them after an initial inspection. I have spoken to the environmental health officer and he was a nice chap in honesty and said he isn't out to get me etc. So if they won't move I am prepared to do the work.

I have not much funds currently as have a large mortgage, the bungalow has no mortgage and is mine to sell. I am considering just keeping it on now if the tenants really won't budge.

I need to learn a lot though if I chose to do that. I want to be a landlord that does everything right and this has been a steep learning curve.
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« Reply #23 on: April 26, 2022, 09:54:01 AM »

I would distance myself from the tenants until you get an official report from the council.Do exactly what you are told to do.It sounds like the tenants are doing the legal side themselves,you don't mention solicitors involved on either side yet? The matter of damages for alleged health problems  does need a lot more than just their word for it. They would have to provide and pay for medical reports,not easy when GP's are under pressure.
I would strongly advise against keeping the tenants on if they wish to stay.You are clearly at fault here,but the trust has gone and the relationship would be very uncomfortable for all concerned.
Whenever the idea to carry on as a landlord comes to you,go and lie down in a darkened room until it passes.   
   
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« Reply #24 on: April 26, 2022, 10:34:42 AM »

I have spoken to the environmental health officer and he was a nice chap in honesty and said he isn't out to get me etc.

You just need to watch Slum Millionaires and Mad Dogs on TV to realise that what some Council Officers get to see isn't on your level, even though your place doesn't sound great, it's likely ticks in boxes for most things. The most worrying thing - as always - is the feeling (as a Landlord) of being in someone's sights who has power over you.

Remember - you'll not be forced to turn it into some kind of palace if work goes ahead... just so it meets the criteria as "fit for human habitation" I suppose. Such a harsh phrase if your property gets described as unfit for human habitation. It can cut you to the bone.

I see no harm (if there's an open door) in continuing good faith negotiations with the Tenant.. but don't bank on anything and don't feel too badly if they refuse. That's their right at the end of the day. To succeed at negotiating you need to be talking. There can be emotion in homes and houses, but if two parties are aiming towards a resolution they can live with, there's a good chance. If you reached the point where they just want to "get you" now, it's unlikely of course.

The lose-lose outcome, I suppose, is where you agree on a solution where they leave willingly at some point, but it takes so long the Council somehow still force you to do some work, which doesn't increase the price of the property in any way, and then they eventually leave, you end up having an upgraded house but the work doesn't truly affect market value. I don't know the chance of this, just thinking aloud.

Which then made me think of a Google Review / Question type thing I once saw for an attraction somewhere... a tea-room or something, so I'll lighten the mood:

Person 1: Are dogs aloud?
Person 2: Yes, but only if they're quiet.
Person 1: What?
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