For years there have been complaints about the unfairness of landlords mortgage companies being able to evict tenants, if the landlord falls behind with his mortgage payments.
We have discussed a number of these cases on this blog, perhaps the worst example being this case here. However hopefully this sort of thing won’t happen again (or if so, it won’t be as bad), as the private members bill introduced in the last parliament, has now been made law, the Mortgage Repossessions (Protection of Tenants etc) Act 2010.
This gives tenants the right to apply to the court for an order that the date for possession be delayed for two months, to allow them time to find somewhere else to live. It also requires mortgage companies to serve a notice on tenants before the apply for a bailiffs appointment, so that they will know to do this.
The act has now come into force and there are new regulations, The Dwelling Houses (Execution of Possession Orders by Mortgagees) Regulations 2010, setting out exactly what needs to be done by the mortgage company and the tenant:
- if the mortgage company wants to enforce an order for possession it must first serve a notice at the property
- this notice must be in a prescribed form, which you can see at the end of the regulations
- if you receive a notice like this and you are a tenant, you should immediately contact the mortgage company
- the mortgage company should give you at least two months to find somewhere else to live
- they may also consider allowing you to stay on in the property, for example if you pay your rent to them rather than to the landlord, but this is not something they have to do if they do not want to
- if you have difficulties contating the mortgage company, you should make an application to the court asking for the two months
- the form also suggests you take legal advice on your situation
This new act is a step forward for tenants rights, as at least it means that never again (hopefully) will tenants suddenly find the bailiffs at the door and be expected to move out within a couple of hours, as happened here.
Note that if the mortgage company is not prepared to give you any more than the two months, you will may be justified in withholding rent, particularly if you are being evicted during the fixed term of your tenancy. This will be a major breach by your landlord of the terms of your tenancy agreement, for which you will be entitled to claim compensation and the re-reimbursement of any expenses you incur as a result, for example removal costs.
However it may advisable to take legal advice on this, and as always any rent withheld should be kept in a separate, interest bearing bank account (ie don’t have a party and spend it all) until matters have been resolved.
Has anyone had any experience of these regulations in action yet? Do you think they will, in reality, make much difference?