Here is a question to the blog clinic from Heidi who is a tenant
We are currently tenants in a spacious one bedroom flat. I am currently expecting my first child, two weeks after the fixed term of our contract runs out.
We want to stay put until the baby is around 6 months old, as she’ll be in our bedroom to start with anyway and I got made redundant in May, so we are relying on my partners salary.
Reading my tenancy agreement I can’t see any problem with it. We can’t sublet, but obviously our child is not a lodger! We can’t keep pets, but a baby isn’t a pet. We wouldn’t be overcrowded as children under 1 don’t count as requiring space.
Do we have to let our landlord know and can they evict us for having a baby?
I realise that section 21 exists, so they could get rid of us with no reason. However, we were never given the prescribed information for deposit protection, which I believe would buy us some time.
There are no other issues with the tenancy, rent is always paid on time and we keep things in good order. I may just be being paranoid, but after a couple of renting nightmares I’m just worried about having to move at 38 weeks pregnant or with a newborn.
I am not aware of any reason why you should have to tell your landlord about this. As you say, for the first few months of its life a baby will not require a lot of extra space.
Your landlord will however no doubt find out about this (presumably he will carry out inspections from time to time) so I would not deliberately conceal it.
So far as evicting you is concerned, this is not a legal ground which your landlord can use to base an eviction.
Realistically there are two main grounds landlords use – the rent arrears ground and section 21. Your landlord cannot use the rent arrears ground if your rent is paid promptly, but can he use section 21?
If he failed to serve the prescribed information then no valid section 21 notice can be served at the moment. However unlike the situation where the deposit is unprotected, you can correct a failure to serve the prescribed information by serving it out of time.
Until he does this however you are safe from section 21 claims.
Doing a deal
Note that as the landlord is also in breach of the deposit rules, you are entitled to go to court and claim a penalty of between 1 and 3 times the deposit sum.
If it looks as if your landlord is going to be difficult, you could always say that you will agree not to bring any such claim if he agrees to grant you a further six months fixed term.
A last resort
Note by the way that even if the worst happens and your landlord does evict you, as you have a child (or are evicting a child if this happens before the baby is born) you will have a legal right to be rehoused by the Local Authority.
This is because (unless you move out voluntarily) you will be deemed to be in ‘priority need’.