NGalloway are now offering a problem solving service to tenants, agents and landlords with complications in their tenancies to prevent a landlord unknowingly carrying out an illegal eviction. Or in some cases being investigated wrongly because the tenant landlord relationship has broken down. Landlords and tenants face the same issues but from different angles.
Illegal eviction is a criminal offence and many landlords are putting themselves at risk in Nottingham because the law is very clear. There are 32,000 privately rented properties in the city which require a licence and any landlord who evicts a tenant wrongly risks making themselves unfit to hold a HMO or Selective Licence as part of the “Fit and Proper Persons” criteria. They also could be liable to civil penalties of up to £30,000 per offence.
Things that could constitute an illegal eviction include;
Harassment and threatening behaviour
Making you leave against your will
Using nasty letters that have no legal basis to scare you
A landlord packing up your things to make you leave
Cutting off the electricity or other utilities so you leave
Stopping maintenance or repairs of the property so you leave
Changing the locks whilst you are out or not giving you a key
Stops you getting in to parts of your home
Download the “My landlord wants me out” guide which describes in more detail what illegal eviction is. Click here
If the tenant who has an AST refuses to leave the property on their own volition then the steps that must be taken by the landlord include;
- Notice – The landlord must issue a compliant S21 or S8 notice
- Court Order – The landlord must get a court order to make you leave
- Court Bailiff – Once a court order is issued then it has to be a bailiff that evicts you
Quick summary of S21 and S8 notices
This is a “non-fault” notice which most letting agencies and landlords use because it does not rely on proving anything. If it is served correctly and is compliant then the judge has to award possession to the landlord.
To serve a compliant S21 notice the landlord has to be licenced if it is a licensable property and have issued it to the tenant;
Energy Performance Certificate
Gas safety certificate (The plot thickens for Post Oct 2015 tenancies)
Smoke alarms have been checked at the start of the tenancy
The deposit was protected in a government approved scheme
This is slightly more complicated because you have to prove one of the grounds and requires evidence that can be challenged at court. Many agencies and landlords avoid this notice altogether because they see it as a risk.
There are 17 grounds in a S8 notice that agencies and landlords can choose from to describe the circumstances why they want possession back from the tenant. The notice period ranges from 0 days to 2 months depending on which ground is used.
Once at court the judge has to award possession if the landlord has used one of the 8 mandatory grounds even if he does not want to. However even if the landlord proves the case on grounds 9 – 17 the judge can use discretion which is why agencies and landlords have been using the “Non-Fault” S21 notices.
Unwittingly agents and landlords have been creating a situation where the government and local councils responsible for housing think tenants are getting evicted for no fault of their own because landlords have been using the S21 route. There is now a campaign for longer tenancies (3 years) and strict guidelines around what is a valid S21 notice.
When a family is made or has the potential of becoming homeless this then places a statutory duty on the Local Authority to assist but they don’t have the housing stock or resources so they end up housing families’ in bed and breakfast.
Currently in Nottingham there are around 80 cases per night where the council are housing people in B&B. The average cost per night is £100 and means a total cost of £2.9m per year. This does not include assisting with transport and extra services. When people become homeless their health and wellbeing deteriorates rapidly and this has an impact on themselves and the community.
This is not sustainable for anyone as councils are experiencing austerity. Agents and landlords need to be working with the councils to prevent tenancies breaking down. Otherwise councils have no option to gear their response to the defence of the S21. This puts considerable stress and costs onto the landlord who is often ill equipped to deal with the situation.
The key difference between the S21 and S8 notices are the intentionality of becoming homeless. If a tenant become homeless via a S8 notice it is likely for a breach of the tenancy. This includes non- payment of rent and antisocial behaviour. The council don’t have to provide housing in most of those cases because the tenants did it to themselves.
Unless there is a negotiated termination of a tenancy then a landlord cannot evict a tenant without following the legal procedure. If the tenant is evicted and they end up at housing aid the council are fully trained and will be checking the validity of the eviction. If they find breaches the council can prosecute the landlord for illegal eviction and ask the court to make an award of compensation to the tenant.
At NGalloway we now offer problem solving to landlords and agents who have complications in their tenancies and we can negotiate with the tenant, landlord, council, neighbours and others to find a solution where everybody wins. In most cases we are able to work closely with the council and the tenant to change behaviour, fix rent arrears and save the tenancy if there is a desire to do this.
We provide a bespoke service to solve your problem.
For more information or an informal chat call 0115 697 2829