Here is a question to the fast track blog clinic from Ricardi who is a tenant
Hi there, I am renting a room from someone who is not the landlord since January of 2016 and I do not have any written contract.
The situation in the house has become a bit complicated as we are three of us – one is the person who collects the money of the rent, one lady and myself.
The problems began because the lady she has two dogs in her room but she like to do party, stay the night way of the house which is not bad, but not when you have two dogs to look after and you are sharing a flat with someone else. So she locks the dogs in her room for too many hours what make difficult to sleep sometimes because of their barks.
So I started to complain about it but the lady she does not like to hear any complaint, so what happened is that she threatened me saying that if I do not leave the house in a month time she would put a complaint about ill-treatment to me (I have recorded her saying that by the way), and by that time I receive a notice to quit the house from a solicitors that the person who collect the money of the rent hired.
So the question is, as I asked too many times to him for the contact details of the head landlord and he refuse to give me, what can I do to get the contact of the landlord in a legal way if there is any, because I want to have a talk with him and explain what is going on in the house and offer him more money for the house if he would like and keep it for myself, because he has not idea about I.
I already checked in the Land Register but there is nothing about him, he is an English guy who currently live in Greece so the person who have “the contract”of the house he never seen him face to face, they communicate with emails. What should I do in this case because I am willing to take them to the court if is need it?
When advising a client in a landlord and tenant matter, the first thing that needs to be done is work out whether they have a tenancy or not, and if so, what sort of tenancy it is.
This is important as your legal rights will depend on what the status of your occupation is.
Working out your occupation type
From what you say, it looks as if :
- You are sharing a flat or house with two other people
- You do not have a written tenancy agreement
- There is someone who collects the rent but they are not the owner of the property
There are three main types of occupation for someone who rents a room:
- A licensee
- A lodger (basically a licensee who shares accommodation with their landlord), or
- A tenant
There is a big difference between being a tenant or a licensee, as tenants have far more legal rights. Indeed in a way they own the property they rent.
From what you say it is clear that your landlord does not live in the property and it looks as if you have your own room (ie you are not sharing with another person).
So it sounds as if you probably have a tenancy. It is not actually necessary to have a written tenancy agreement to be a legal tenant as I explain here.
If you have a tenancy it is highly likely to be an assured shorthold tenancy (as most tenancies are ASTs by default). As you are sharing a property with people who are not your family, the property will probably be classed as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). I am not going to say anything more about this, but there is a lot of information about HMOs here.
Finding out who your landlord is
Tenants do have the right to know who their landlord is. This is set out in s1 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which says that if a tenant makes a request in writing to the person to whom he pays rent, that person must provide the landlord’s contact details within 21 days.
I explain about this here.
So probably the first thing to do is to make a formal request to the person who collects the rent. This could be something along the lines of
Re: [put here the room and address of the property you rent]
Please, can you provide the full name and address of my landlord.
I am making this request pursuant to section 1 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 under which you are required to provide me with these details within 21 days.
However if the rent collector does not provide this, there is not a lot your can do to enforce it other than speak to your Local Authority – who will probably be too busy to deal with it for you.
Possible illegal sublet
I should also mention here the possibility that your property could be being illegally sublet to you without the property owner’s permission. I have no idea whether it is or not, but this is a growing problem, particularly in areas such as London where rented property is in short supply.
Often tenants have no idea that this is the case and believe that they are legitimate tenants (which in a way they are) until the property owner finds out and takes steps to evict them.
Rather bizarrely, even if the property is being let without the owner’s permission, your tenancy will still be valid – as against the person who rented it out to you.
However with an illegal sublet, the ‘tenants’ will not have any defence to a claim by the true property owner as their tenancy is not binding against him (or her).
If your room is an illegal sublet (and I am not saying that it is, just that it sounds possible) – getting in touch with the property owner may not be the best course of action from your point of view.
I don’t think there is much more I can say just now. Try giving a letter requesting your landlord’s contact details to the person who collects the rent and see what happens.
If you want any further help or advice, I would suggest you find out whether there is a Shelter Office or a Law Centre near you. They would be the best people to advise you and help you find out what the status of your tenancy is and find your landlord if this is considered advisable.
You will find a list of further possible sources of help here. If you decide to use solicitors, make sure they are a firm which specialises in landlord and tenant work as it is a bit of a specialist area and most solicitors will not know a lot about it.