This is a question to the blog clinic from Harry who is a landlord.
So, in short, I rented my house to my father in law in good faith while I moved into a new property with my then partner, regrettably without out any tenancy contracts or paperwork!. I am no longer with my partner and yes you guessed it my x father in law is no longer paying me any rent (last 4 months).
I have taken legal advice, but I am told without any gas certificates or energy assessments completed there is little we can do, the problem I now have is when I ever I try to get these task completed he won’t answer the door!. I have tried myself to speak to him, send him letters all of which get ignored! it would seem my options are very limited and potentially extremely expensive, I am told to budget around 20k!!!
Any advice would be very much welcome, clearly I have made some very obvious mistakes, however, I desperately need to find a way out of this position.
This is a classic example of why you should NEVER rent to relatives or in-laws!
Or if you do, why it should be treated like any other tenancy with a tenancy agreement signed and all the proper paperwork served.
You are certainly in difficulties as regards using section 21.
At the moment though you don’t need to use section 21 as there are serious rent arrears. You can bring a claim for possession based on that.
However, if your father in law paid the rent arrears, this would place you in a position where eviction would be very difficult.
The problem is, you need to do a gas safety check before you rent to ANYONE. Even if you take in lodgers you need to do one. So the fact that the tenant was your father in law at the time and that this was a family arrangement with ‘no intention to create legal relations’ will not be any help.
Getting the Gas Safety Certificate Done
Sending a series of letters informing your ex-father in law that this is a legal requirement and is for his own safety might do the trick.
If he still won’t let you (or rather your gas installer) in to do the check, threatening to go to court to obtain an injunction might persuade him to agree, particularly if you make it clear that you will be asking the court to order that he pay the costs of this.
We have a legal kit which provides all the guidance for this, including a DIY guide for getting a ‘gas injunction’ (as they are called).
Then when the gas installer goes in, see if you can get someone in to do an EPC at the same time.
Once you have this you will be able to serve your section 21 notice.
If you are unable to get the EPC done with the gas inspection, then it is possible that in your proceedings you could argue that an EPC was not needed when your ex-father in law went in – as at that time ‘there was no intention to create legal relations’ ie create a tenancy.
A tenancy would only have arisen when your relationship with your ex-father in law changed (if indeed it has – there is a possible argument that he is still not a tenant).
In our Gas Access Kit, we also have guidance on obtaining a possession order on the basis that a tenant is in breach of the terms of their tenancy agreement by not allowing you in to get the inspection done.
The problem here is that you do not have a tenancy agreement! It is possible that you may be able to do this though on the basis that it is an implied term of your tenancy agreement – but you would need advice on this.
However, I suspect a Judge would be sympathetic as after all gas safety certificates are for everyone’s safety, not just the tenant.
NB Find out more about my Gas Access Kit.