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Landlord evicting me after I complained about the mould

Damp and mouldHere is a question to the blog clinic from Martin who is a tenant

I am on a rolling tenancy. After months of complaining about mould in the bathroom the landlord & agents failed to do anything about it, I called the council environmental health department.

They came to see it and some time later they applied pressure to the landlord to get it sorted.

I came home tonight to find a notice to leave letter on the doorstep!

Rent is up to date and there have been no other issues, the letter gives no reason for this action but it’s blatantly obvious it’s the landlord’s solution to the mould problem.

I am afraid that this sort of thing does happen, it is called ‘retaliatory eviction‘ and at present (provided your landlord gets his paperwork right) there is not a lot you can do about it.

Although you might check to see that the paperwork served on you is correct.   You say a ‘letter’.  What the landlord needs to serve on you if he wants to evict is a section 21 notice.

You are entitled to stay in your property until evicted through the courts, and your landlord will only be able to do this if he has served the proper paperwork on you first.

Take some advice on this – for example from the CAB, a law centre or Shelter.  If you want to speak to solicitors make sure it is a firm that does housing work.

I suggest you contact Shelter anyway to tell them your story.  They will then be able to use your story to support their campaign against retaliatory eviction.

Picture provided by kind permission of Sandra Savage Fisher of QuaLETY lettings.



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12 Responses to Landlord evicting me after I complained about the mould

  1. The landlord may feel that the mould is due to the tenant not opening windows or drying washing inside.

    The problem with condensation and mould is that one person can live in a property for years with no problems, but yet the next person gets lots of condensation.

    One damp expert told me that it may be as little as the new tenant making 1 more cup of tea a day pushing a property over the edge, however it is more often not opening windows, only heating for part of the day, drying washing inside etc.

    The best you can hope for now is a good reference, so even if the paperwork is not correct all you gain by fighting your landlord is a few months before you have to move out and a bad reference. Ask your landlord if he/she would be happy for you to leave without giving notice, if so, you have lots of power when finding the next property, as landlords don’t like waiting for tenants to move in.

    I think your landlord is being stupid, as the cost of getting the ventilation in the bathroom sorted out so no one can course condensation, is less than the likely cost of finding a new tenant.

  2. The problem with condensation is : when left unattended to, it will only get worse. But this landlord just ignored the problem for as long as he could. And then, when pushed into a corner, he serves an S21. This is not a landlord that cares one bit, I think, about how that damp actually got there. Sadly, sounds like another landlord that just wants a ‘free lunch’.

  3. Have you tried washing it down with an anti mould solution? If it’s the same modern building as the one in view then its surely down to the freeholder of the building if it’s a problem with window.

  4. Two points

    Tessa as far as I am aware a letter is fine. It does not have to be a ‘formal’ s21 in the sense and style most of us know it. I have always believed the letter had to state, as a heading, that possession was sought under s21 and am certain there was a case on this years ago where a Landlord’s letter was thrown out because it did not do this. But I cannot find the case, and have recently been told it is not necessary.

    However the notice letter must be structured, clear and not rambling. And of course correctly dated. As you comment I’d be amazed if a Landlord achieved that in a letter, which also will not contain the saving clause sentence.

    On the problem it is interesting that according to the tenant the Council “put pressure” on the Landlord to cure it. W3re they formal was it a category 2 hazard warning notice? Tenant needs to know.

    Mould is usually condensation and unless there is a complete lack of ventilation, which I doubt in a bathroom as opposed to an ensuite with no window, it is usually occupier generated, and not enough done about it to prevent it worsening.

  5. Thank you for your comments everyone. Ivan the picture is not of the property concerned, it is just a general illustration.

    So far as the Local Authorities warning is concerned, it won’t affect the landlords ability to use section 21 (now at any rate, although I understand that the government are considering amending the law here).

    However it will affect the landlords ability to re-let the property to someone else without having done the work, as the improvement notice (if it is one) will not go away.

  6. Tessa can you answer my point on the letter v formal notice I assume you didn’t because you were researching the case?!!

    And although LL can serve s21 if it was a category 1 hazard he would not be able to re-let it until cured. Unlikely though with condensation.

    Other thing for the tenant to check here is TDP compliance by Landlord, odds are the notice will be invalid anyway especially as it is a periodic tenancy.

    I’ll bet he didn’t re-serve PI

  7. There is nothing to say that a section 21 notice can’t be in letter form. However generally when people say letter they mean just that – a letter. Although it is possible for a letter to hit all the requirements set out in section 21 by accident I suppose.

    The point is that the tenant should check.

    You are probably right about the prescribed information.

  8. Thanks Tessa

    But does the letter need to contain, as a title statement or as a reference in the first line, to say that possession is sought iunder s21 The Housing Act 1988.

    I am certain there was a case where such a letter not stating that was thrown out as you have to state you seek possession under s21. Which is why using the set notice is a better idea

  9. @Industry Observer. S21(4) provides for the notice, or letter if it is in letter form, to specify that it is served ‘by virtue of this section’ ie it has to say s21.

    This is not the case with s21(1) though.

  10. Thanks Tessa knew I wasn’t completely losing the plot. That case must have been a periodic one then.

    Thanks

  11. ah….condensation! Throughout the winter we receive reports from tenants that their is ‘damp’ in their property and we receive angry telephone calls from parents of students demanding that we rehouse their darling daughters because the property is uninhabitable….we then visit the property to find the heating turned up full blast, clothes drying on radiators, the internal bathroom fan switched off and all windows closed!

    Tenants need to ventilate properties in order to avoid condensation. Sometimes all that is required to stop mould developing through condensation is to allow some air to ventilate in the property. It’s amazing how, after a simple advice sheet on how to avoid condensation, the ‘damp’ problem ‘evaporates’!

    Sadly, if the landlord has served all appropriate notice papers (different in England?….we’re based in Scotland) to ask you to vacate I don’t think there is a lot you can do as a tenant.

    That said, I would say that the landlord would be better educating a tenant on how to limit condensation, apply some anti-mould paint to the affected areas and hang onto a good tenant, rather than going through the pain of having to secure a new, unknown tenant.

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About the post 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 a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google



The Landlord Law Blog from Tessa Shepperson

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


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