Here is a question to the blog clinic from Abbie who is a tenant
I have rented a property in London since 1993 and the rent has never increased.
The owner has never done anything to the property, I have maintained it, painted and looked after it as my own. There is a large damp patch in the dining room that I have been asking to be repaired for nearly 2 years now.
I have now been told that the owner has passed away and that nothing can be done until they sort out the estate.
- I have not had a contract since 2004.
- Can I insist on repairs as a paying tenant?
- Do I have any rights?
- Can they continue to refuse to do repairs?
- Do I have any rights as I have been there so long?
- Do I qualify as a sitting tenant? If they decide to sell the property where do I stand? Do I get first option to buy it?
- Can they give me notice at any time?
You may be in quite a good position.
Tenants who first moved into their rented properties between January 1989 and February 1997 may have the stronger rights of assured tenants.
If your landlord failed to comply with the procedure (or if he did but his executors do not have the paperwork and are so unable to prove it) then you will have an assured tenancy (or they will not be able to prove that you don’t which is effectively the same thing).
Assured tenants have long term security of tenure as they cannot be evicted under section 21.
This means that:
- If you threaten to sue the landlord (or his executors) for compensation and for an injunction ordering him to do repairs work, he will not be able to evict you first
- The landlords/executors cannot evict you under section 21 to allow them to sell the property with vacant possession. So unless you move out voluntarily they will only be able to sell the property with you as a sitting tenant
- If the landlord/executors want to sell with vacant possession you may be able to negotiate a payment in exchange for moving out – but note that you do not have any RIGHT to such a payment, you will only be able to negotiate this if they are anxious to get the property back
- You do not have any rights to buy the property
- If the repair work is done, the landlord/executors will be entitled to a higher rent (for example via the rent increase notice procedure under s13 of the Housing Act 1988) so if you are on a fixed income it may be better to leave things as they are
Note also that you don’t get any special rights just because you have been in the property a long time.
If you are an assured tenant, you may be able to find a solicitors firm willing to act for you on a no win no fee basis if you want to get the repair work done.