This is a question to the blog clinic from Gerry (not his real name) who is a tenant.
Recently, the letting agents phoned me to say that the landlord was re-mortgaging and would want the mortgage valuer to call round. I agreed with this for the next day, and was not told that the landlord would be coming round. So I was surprised when she turned up with the mortgage valuer and came in.
I felt uncomfortable, as I had assumed that she had to get permission first from me, not simply turn up because someone else had permission to go in.
Secondly, I had explained to the letting agents that I had been ill for the past couple of years, and had had short spells in hospital, and had fallen behind on cleaning and tidying, but with my health improving I had been making progress on that.
The day after the landlord’s visit, she dropped a letter through my door informing me she would be giving me Notice To Quit, and because I had breached the tenancy agreement by not keeping the place clean and tidy she would seek possession under Section 8 of the Housing Act.
When I saw the agents about this, they told me that she had said she had wanted to see the property to see its condition (i.e. carry out a flat inspection).
My concern is:
- Was she allowed to enter the property and carry out a flat inspection like that?
- Can she have a Section 8 possession issued under information obtained by entering the property under these circumstances?
- Would a court consider illness and the fact that I have been making efforts recently to catch up on cleaning and tidying up as mitigating factors?
1. I don’t think so. Maybe technically she was not acting wholly correctly in not letting you know that she would be attending with the valuer but I don’t think you will be able to take that anywhere.
Landlords are entitled to carry out inspections under section 11(6) of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1980 as part of their repairing obligations. After all if you have agree to one inspection it should not be putting you out too much to have the landlord there also.
2. There is nothing to stop your landlord serving a section 8 notice based on breach of contract or one of the other discretionary grounds for possession but she is highly unlikely to recover possession on that basis.
Were she to be so misguided as to try, you would have an excellent chance of defending the claim (and getting an order for costs against her as part of the final order). So don’t worry about that.
3. Yes of course the Judge would consider your illness and frankly unless the untidiness was so extreme as to impact on the condition of the property (which is presumably not the case) the Judge would be more likely to treat such a claim almost as a vexatious one.
Judges consider, rightly, that potentially making someone homeless by making a possession order is an extremely serious matter and not something they will do lightly, just because a tenant is not keeping a property as tidy as the landlord would like. If you were knocking the walls down it would be different …
Were I advising this landlord I would tell her to forget about section 8 claims and instead look to section 21. But so long as she has not served a s21 notice on you, you are safe.