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Landlord Selling Property

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« on: June 26, 2021, 11:50:55 AM »

I wonder if anyone can help me.

I have lived as a tenant in my property for over 5.5 years. 2 months ago my landlord informed me he was selling the property. He issued a section 21 and asked me to vacate by 22 November 2021.  There are various issues regarding the Section 21 and itís validity. I asked if it will be sold with me in situ and he said no.

I asked the landlord to withhold the sale and viewings until I had left but he insisted there was a couple of clauses in the tenancy that allow either himself or his representatives to enter for viewings at reasonable times with 24 hours notice. I suffer with mental health issues and the thought of many people constantly viewing until I vacate makes me very anxious. I tried to negotiate and asked for 48 hours notice between the hours of 12 and 6pm and for these to be limited without too many in one week and to try to lump viewings together. I also asked to a reference to help me acquire a new property. He agreed to the 48 hours notice and the times specified but said he couldnít guarantee how many viewings there would be. He also said that any reference would depend on Ďhow things goí. I have spoken to CAB and Shelter and they have pretty much said that as he has a clause in the tenancy there is not a lot I can do and just play ball to get a reference.

His estate agent is now in regular contact with me and has visited on several occasions regarding the valuation of the property and for photos and video to be taken. I have asked for communication to be via email. In the past week these have been constant and already the estate agent is trying to bend any times/notice period stipulated and asking me to ring their office. They have also requested that I ensure the house looks nice and that I leave the property during viewings and take my dogs with me. On the first viewing they turned up 15 minutes early. I had just arrived back and needed to sort myself and the dogs out but the estate agent kept banging on the front door. I didnít answer until it was the allotted time. At other times, random people are just coming and looking through my windows and pulling in on my drive.

It does feel like I am under attack and I donít know what to do. I potentially have another 5 months of this unless someone buys it or I manage to find another property soon. The issue is that I was initially told that this house would never be sold. The coronavirus pandemic has affected my self-employed earnings and also my credit file as I have been unable to pay my debts so I am in a precarious situation regarding obtaining a new tenancy. I decided to study a degree during lockdown so I have student income now but donít know if this income would be taken into account. My family have offered to act as guarantors if needed and lend me money to make advance rental payments but I would like to avoid getting them involved if possible. I have spoken to the council and they have told me that I would only be entitled to a one bed flat, possibly 2 but that my dogs would be a problem,

I suppose my question is do I have any rights? I have never received prescribed information regarding the deposit. I tried to track it down online and I believe I have traced it but cannot access it as I donít have a login. Also the landlordís EPC certificate is an F rating and hasnít been updated since I moved in in October 2015. No electricity check has been done since July 2015. If I say his Section 21 is invalid he could just issue a new one for a lesser period because of the govt reduction in notice period. He could also cause me issues with a reference etc and probably make my life very difficult but at the same time I am very unhappy with how he and the estate agent are dealing with this, with very little empathy regarding my situation and acting in quite an aggressive way.

Sorry this is long-winded but I hope someone might be able to help. Thankyou  :)
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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2021, 02:12:33 PM »

What does the clauses you referred to actually say?

If deposit wasn't protected or prescribed information served correctly, then you can sue for a penalty. If it's been 5.5 years, then the time limit is coming up, so up to you whether you want to push it now to get an extra penalty. He can't issue you a valid s21 until either the deposit has been returned, or you have sued and the case end.

EPC and EICR are all possible penalties for the landlord, but that's really just a case of whether you want to report the LL or not. The associated penalties here doesn't go to you.

You can try having a clear word with the LL/LA, something along the line of "I'm trying to work with you, but if you won't stick to conditions we've agreed, I'm going to start refusing access for viewing etc.". It's not like they could legally force access in practice.
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2021, 02:40:53 PM »

Realising, fully, that you "feel under attack"... but you're really not. Tenancies run for different lengths of time and the average in the UK is about 18 months, believe it or not. Often both a Tenant and Landlord would desire a long term tenancy and this one looks like it has worked out well for both of you for a period approaching 6 years... but, just like your circumstances have changed, the Landlord's circumstances may have changed and someone who says this property will never be sold cannot be taken seriously. You can't pin your hopes on that, you can only look back and think maybe you could've been more skeptical.

From what you've said it sounds like you and the Landlord could both have a merry dance in delaying this Section 21. You could delay things by a very long time... but if you are worried about feeling under attack now, you might prefer to be as amenable as you can and put most of your efforts into finding somewhere else suitable. My heartfelt suggestion is that no-one should ever want to stay where they're not welcome.

Whatever happens here it feels like you're going to have to accept that a) someone might buy the property and b) that person is unlikely to be a Landlord who will "step into the shoes" of the existing Landlord. Any buyer will, therefore, insist on Vacant Possession... this could be your trump card... if a sale is agreed, and you're still there (very likely)... then a Completion Date will be set... and Vacant Possession will be insisted upon. The Landlord can try to tell any buyer your Section 21 expires end of November and it will be empty... any savvy buyer won't take that as a guarantee... assuming it was even valid, you could stay on afterwards... assuming it's not valid it will get thrown-out of Court and the Landlord will have to start all over again... at this point the sale would probably fall through.

So your trump card - if a sale is agreed, and at the right time - is this...

  - in exchange for a stellar reference
  - and some assistance with moving costs and your next Deposit

You would be happy to vacate. Otherwise... (?)

I do feel you are going to have to look at accommodating viewings though... in practice you could put your foot down, change the locks, hunker down, and refuse all access... it's true, you can do that. But your relationship is totally destroyed at that point and the Landlord will realise al that much sooner that there is a fight on his hands. The Landlord is right when he says he can't guarantee how many viewings there would be. No-one could. The choice in front of you is whether to accommodate and bite the bullet in finding somewhere else ASAP (you can serve your own notice if something good comes up earlier than November)... or whether you intend to delay and obstruct the Landlord for as long as you can (and it could be a very long time) but not forever.

I would try to find out more about your Deposit. If it was protected then you should at least have been written to by the Scheme in question at some point (email). If you think you've found it but can't login - use the Scheme's facilities for either forgetting a password or getting something sorted. While the Prescribed Information is important, you should definitely find out for sure whether it was ever actually protected.
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« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2021, 02:42:24 PM »

Oh, and use your family resources. You not wanting to involve them is by-the-by... plenty of people out there do not have such help available. It should allow you to focus on the thing that is most important to you - finding somewhere else in as short a time as possible (and, thereby, leaving your Landlord in the lurch at the same time -  ;) - he probably didn't expect to get Vacant Possession quite so soon... and no incoming rent for the months between now and November or later).
« Last Edit: June 26, 2021, 02:46:02 PM by Hippogriff »
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« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2021, 02:48:02 PM »

Prospective Landlords like to hear from prospective Tenants that the reason they're looking for somewhere new is because their current Landlord is selling-up. We know this happens. And, if taken at face-value, it means you are not just moving for the sake of moving... you'll probably stay put, which we like... and you're unlikely to be a whack-job, which we like. "Current Landlord is selling..." is a good reason for wanting a new place. We like that.
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2021, 02:58:11 PM »

KTC

Thankyou for your response! It is very much appreciated  :)

There are 2 clauses he mentions:-

1. To allow the landlord to display on a suitable part of the Premises a notice for selling or re-letting and to permit the Premises to be viewed at any reasonable time by any person who is or who is acting on behalf of, a prospective purchaser, prospective tenant or prospective mortgagee of the Premises
2. Upon not less than 2 dayís notice (except in an emergency) to permit the Landlord and the Landlordís agents and any other persons authorised by the Landlord to enter onto the Premises (with or without workmen and with all necessary equipment) for any or all of the following purposes:-
(i) to examine the condition of the Premises (or the Building) or any adjoining or    neighbouring property
(ii) to repair, maintain, alter, improve or rebuild the Premises (or the Building) or any adjoining or neighbouring property
(iii) to comply with any obligation imposed on the Landlord by law

When I read this again the first clause seems to cover letting agents I suppose but do you think it covers actual people viewing?

You mentioned that they couldnít legally force access in practice - is this still the case even with the clauses above? It seems this tenancy was based on a notice period of 2 months if given by the landlord and yet with the new covid notice period of 6 months - it would seem a long period to have to put up with viewings - just wondering if it could be impled that only viewings could be done in the final month of the tenancy?

Also who would I approach regarding the lack of prescribed information for the deposit?  His solicitor who issued the Section 21?

Thankyou!
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2021, 03:12:44 PM »

Hippogriff

Many thanks for your response as well. There is a lot there to think about and it is interesting seeing this perspective.

Yes thatís my dilemma. I donít want a fight on my hands but just want to enjoy the rest of my time here as it is a long period to have to accommodate viewings.  Also I do worry if I havenít found somewhere in time as I am having a lot of knock-backs due to the pets.

But I like your trump card - that is something I hadnít even considered. So if I went down the route of the sale going through and making Ďrequestsí would you currently just forget the issues with the prescribed info for the Deposit or would you pursue that as well. It would be very handy to have it back early to go towards the new prospective tenancy. I paid £1500 deposit on a house that costs £600 per month so it is quite hefty.

Do you think the following would make me acceptable for a tenancy?
-  a landlords reference,
- proof of rent payments paid on time for 5.5 years (and also on previous tenancy for 2.5 years)
- guarantor
- extra months up front - not sure what to offer or what I could borrow for this bit

Thankyou!
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« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2021, 03:38:46 PM »

I forgot to say - I definitely didn't get any emails or written information regarding the deposit. I have looked through my old emails and I know I didn't receive one. I got one for my  tenancy on a previous property and I logged in straight away to make sure it was there but I didn't get one with this property and just assumed they used a different deposit company who didn't do this. I also don't have any paperwork regarding it except on the tenancy agreement where it says I should paid £1500.

Also the original tenancy in Oct 2015 was with my landlord's father who was getting elderly and this was replaced in July 2017 when my landlord took over - so not sure how that affects the deposit scheme and if it give me more time if I do take it further.
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2021, 03:58:45 PM »

Don't talk to anyone, yet, about the Section 21 you have received (except maybe here). It's a long time away.

Also, put the Deposit on the back burner for - only - the time-being... just, if you decide to act on what you believe is a failure to protect it properly, don't run out of time (6 years from the date the Deposit was taken I believe). You shouldn't have to pay such a large Deposit again, now that the Deposit Cap legislation is in place (5 weeks maximum).

Concentrate your efforts on finding somewhere else with (as you say)... a positive (glowing!) reference, no rent arrears (part of the reference, you'd imagine), guarantor, rent up-front (only if required)... which I think should be OK - the only issue is that it's a tough rental market out there right now... so I'm suggesting you start sooner rather than later.

I still think it's better for you to find a new place... tell your Landlord you're legging it in, say, August... and leave him hanging, sure, he's got vacant possession... but he then needs to sell quickly, otherwise no income at all (once you're in a new place you can start your Deposit angle). I find this more desirable than you coming to November, having no new place and having no other option than to play silly buggers... challenging the validity of the Section 21, having it kicked-out, having had all those people viewing... having (maybe) them come around to measure for curtains etc., having everyone feel badly towards you because the sale cannot proceed because you're still living there... and whatever might happen happening.

I'd prioritise your tasks as:

1) get that glowing reference from your Landlord / Agent ASAP... you are a little bit shackled without it... they may want you to wait, that's unfair if so, because they want the date you leave to be as close to the date the buyer Completes as possible... cake-and-eating it comes to mind.
2) assess your financial situation... what you have and what you can pull together... also in terms of Guarantor... know what you can offer if you feel you need to sweeten the deal at any stage.
3) start looking for properties... remember that Landlords and pets are supposed to get on these days... but, still, many will want to enforce a blanket ban, others (like HeavyKarma) would welcome you with open arms.
4) hopefully get a property... set a date as soon as possible.
5) serve your Landlord at least 1 month of notice.
6) move (taking some delight that your Landlord has an empty property he probably hasn't sold and no rental income).
7) focus on Deposit non-protection... but there's nothing to stop you finding out more about this right now, of course.
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« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2021, 04:00:23 PM »

1. To allow the landlord to display on a suitable part of the Premises a notice for selling or re-letting and to permit the Premises to be viewed at any reasonable time by any person who is or who is acting on behalf of, a prospective purchaser, prospective tenant or prospective mortgagee of the Premises

I'm going to have to say that's a pretty comprehensive clause that I haven't seen before. Actually all the more reason for you to have suspicions when they promised they would never sell notwithstanding someone's changing circumstances after all this time as pointed out by Hippogriff.

The landlord and tenant have competing rights regards to landlord's access. Yes, the landlord per the contract an explicit or implied rights to access, here for example for viewings. But equally, if the tenant refuses to actually grant entry, they can't physically force their way in. The only recourses then for the landlord is go to court to enforce their rights or for damages for loss (minimal), or of course eviction. Any legal attempts for enforcement will take time, be expensive, and probably ends up with an order with condition similar to what you already agreed - notice in writing in advance, once a week etc.

Quote
it would seem a long period to have to put up with viewings - just wondering if it could be impled that only viewings could be done in the final month of the tenancy?
The quoted clause doesn't have any time limit specified, and it's highly unlikely any can be implied onto it. It'll all be a matter of what's "reasonable". In any event, landlord's notice doesn't end a tenancy, so there's no "final month" of a periodic tenancy.

Quote
Also who would I approach regarding the lack of prescribed information for the deposit?  His solicitor who issued the Section 21?
You send the landlord a letter before action per the legal pre-action protocol - "hey you didn't comply with the law, pay me £X to settle this or I'll take you to court". And if talk doesn't get you anywhere, bring a claim to court. Shelter have more information.

The time limit to bring the claim is 6 years from the time the deposit should had been protected, which in practice mean 30 days after the start of each tenancy / renewal / extension. If you're going to go legal, it wouldn't be a bad idea to formally contact the 3 schemes in writing for written response confirmation that the deposit isn't protected.

What do you mean by replaced in July 2017? Did you sign a new tenancy with the son as landlord? If so, the time limit is less of a worry as claim for that associated penalty got plenty of time. I'm going to assume you have no plan to sue the father. The immediate difficulties you may have is having to argue that the deposit was received by the son in 2017 since it's not a straight forward replacement tenancy with the same landlord.

Was your tenancy a fixed term tenancy or a periodic tenancy from the start? If there was an initial term, does it say anything about it continuing e.g monthly once the initial term ends?

It's clear the landlord requires vacant possession to sell, or having to worry about the condition of the property during viewings can't be good for the landlord. You could consider suggesting that the landlord pay you a sum of money to leave early instead of possibly dragging it out or fighting over when they can have viewings. They may or may not be interested.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2021, 04:02:57 PM by KTC »
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« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2021, 04:39:59 PM »

Thankyou Hippogriff.  :)  All of what you said makes sense and I will try to put all that into action. Thanks for all your help!
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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2021, 05:00:12 PM »

Thanks for your response KTC.

Yes the clause is a bit damning  :)  Just not sure what is reasonable for viewing - Im allowing everyday except Friday - 12 until 6pm - do you think that's a bit lenient?

Regarding the deposit - I paid £1500 in Oct 2015. I didn't receive any information about it in writing or any emails. I assume it was actually placed in a Deposit Scheme - it's just that they did not issue the prescribed information relating to where it was held/logins etc.

The original tenancy was in the Landlord's father's name for a fixed period of 6 months, after which it became periodic. He decided he didn't want to be a landlord as he was in his 80's and the son took over the tenancy, issuing a replacement tenancy agreement in July 2017. His father died around 2019 I believe.  No extra information regarding the deposit was received.

It was only when I found out that he was repossessing the property that I started looking into the deposit. When the section 21 arrived, the accompanying solicitor's letter said that enclosed was:-

 'a copy of the statement confirming that the deposit you paid upon commencement of your tenancy is held in a Deposit Protection Scheme'.

However, all this was, was a receipt to the landlord from the letting agent they used for my tenancy, showing that the receipt of the 1st month's rent in advance and their fees charged to the landlord. At the very top it just says 'Bond (Held by "New Scheme" DPS £1500). No other information regarding the deposit.

So I think I might have a case, it's more - like you say, whether the son taking over the tenancy makes it less straight-forward. I think, like Hippogriff suggests, that it might be wise to take this issue further once I have left the property.
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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2021, 05:26:16 PM »

Also, I have since done a search on DPS and it found a deposit with my name, postcode and tenancy start date for £1500 so I'm quite confident it is there but can't access it as I need to acquire this login from the letting agent or landlord.
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« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2021, 06:38:08 PM »

I can only say I really relate to this.Issues with anxiety and looking to find a landlord who accepts dogs/kids.been there,done that.I know it's hard,but swallow your pride and accept any help offered by family.Follow the advice given by Hippogriff, remember that the landlord is another human who maybe hates this as much as you do.I really wish you and your dogs the very best of luck.x   
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« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2021, 06:40:31 PM »

The original tenancy was in the Landlord's father's name for a fixed period of 6 months, after which it became periodic. He decided he didn't want to be a landlord as he was in his 80's and the son took over the tenancy, issuing a replacement tenancy agreement in July 2017. His father died around 2019 I believe.  No extra information regarding the deposit was received.

Well, even if it's protected, they need to serve the prescribed information. It could be attached to your tenancy agreement though so you'd want to check that.

If he "took over" and become landlord first and serving you the relevant notice saying so, and only after issue you a new tenancy that's easy. If he become landlord via issuing a new tenancy under his name, then yeah slightly more work. However, the purported s21 notice being served with confirmation of deposit makes it hard for the landlord to later argue that there is no deposit for this tenancy.

Regardless, give DPS a call during the week and see what they say about obtaining access.
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« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2021, 07:59:25 PM »

Thankyou KTC, Hippogriff and Heavykarma for all your responses. My head has been spinning with all this and you have all took the time to give me valuable advice and for that I thank you  :)
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