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Can this tenant defend a s21 claim using estoppel?

non paying tenantHere is a question to the blog clinic from Peter who is a landlord

Having failed to get the court to give me an outright possession order after the tenant disregarded the section 8 judgement, I turned to Section 21 which expires in 2 weeks time.

Possibly the tenant is panicking but he has offered the full rent plus some of the section 8 arrears.He also claims to be doing some redecoration and is replacing the old cooker. Can he use the principle of Estoppel against me and how do I counteract this threat?

The doctrine of estoppel is based on the idea of fairness and people going back on their promises.  It does not operate to stop someone using their legal rights if the other party does what they were supposed to do anyway.

In this case, your tenant is supposed to pay you his rent under the terms of his contract.  He is currently (if he is in arrears) in breach of that contract.  So he can’t, by doing what he is supposed to be doing anyway (ie pay your rent), prevent you using section 21 to evict him.  Not under estoppel anyway.

So far as doing a bit of redecoration and replacing a worn out cooker, these are the sorts of things that a tenants might do anyway (subject to the terms of their contract) so again, I don’t think they would place any special obligations on you.

Particularly as it sounds from your question as if there are still arrears owing.

The sort of situation where you might find yourself facing an estoppel claim is if the tenant (who is not in arrears)  has been doing unusually expensive repair and other work on a property believing that you were going to let him stay there for a long time, and you knew this and let him carry on with the works.  The sort of situation I discuss in my horror story on Landlord Law.

In that story, the tenant had specifically been led by the landlord to believe that she could live in the property as long as she liked, and the work was done on that understanding.  The amount of work done was exceptional and expensive.  This is not the case here.

Note that I explain how estoppel works, along with many other underlying legal rules which affect landlords and tenants, in my Easy Law for Landlords course which you can read about >> here.

About the author

Tessa Shepperson Tessa is a lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. She runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 12th year) and is also a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.


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