This is a question to the blog clinic from Peter who is a tenant.
We informed our landlord about the broken boiler immediately.
Ten days later with no hot water or heating (early March. Freezing temps overnight. 5 year old child), we requested compensation if we were to move to a hotel, or a rent reduction equivalent to the time taken to fix it.
We were given notice of eviction by reply…. Where do we stand?
This is a classic example of ‘retaliatory eviction’ where a landlord evicts a tenant because they ask for repair work to be done.
Your rights depend on when your tenancy started or was last renewed.
If this was on or after 1 October 2015
Go to your Local Authority and explain the situation to them.
If they can get a Local Authority Environmental Health Officer out there to do a Housing Health and Safety Rating System inspection and if they then issue an improvement notice on your landlord – this will invalidate the section 21 notice. Your landlord will not be able to serve another one for six months.
If it was before 1 October 2015
Assuming the section 21 notice is valid, there is not a lot you can do about it other than find somewhere else to live.
The bad news
Even if you come into the first category, the law does not stop your landlord evicting you forever. Just for six months.
The good news
Even if your landlord is entitled to evict you it will take some time. The notice is two months and then the eviction process normally takes about three to six months. So you have a bit of time. Don’t move out – unless you have found somewhere else permanent to live.
It is also very probable that the notice is invalid – check to make sure that your tenancy deposit was properly protected and the prescribed information properly served on you. For tenancies which started or were renewed on or after 1 October 2015 under the new rules your landlord also needs to have served an EPC, Gas Safety Certificate and the governments ‘How to Rent’ booklet on you.
If you are evicted you will be eligible for Council re-housing – as you have a child you will fall into the category of ‘priority need’.
Note that you will also have a financial claim against your landlord for compensation for his breach of his statutory repairing obligations and this claim will last for six years even if he evicts you.
It’s not easy bringing this sort of claim and your landlord sounds like the sort of person who will avoid making any payment even if a court finds against him. However, even so, it’s a good idea keep evidence of the problems and start keeping a diary.
Summary of advice
I suggest you get round to your Local Authority housing advice service pronto and have a word with them.
If you are lucky enough to have a Law Centre nearby – make an appointment to see an adviser there as they will be able to advise you in more detail and represent you in any court claim.