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Landlord and tenant disputes can be can be complex, with a wide array of specific requirements and regulations governing the leases of both residential and commercial properties.

Whether you are a landlord or tenant facing a dispute under a Lease please do not hesitate to contact our experienced Disputes and Litigation Department on our mobile friendly number 033 33 22 1000 or 0800 987 8156 to arrange a meeting and speak to a solicitor. You can also email our specialist team at info@kewlaw.co.uk.

While the specific requirements of domestic and commercial letting vary there are several common areas of dispute that often arise between tenants and landlords. Areas of dispute and litigation on which we can provide specialist knowledge and advice include:-

  • Possession proceedings
  • Removal of unauthorised occupants (squatters)
  • Lease negotiations
  • Leasehold enfranchisement – requests for leaseholders to purchase the freehold of their property
  • Lease extensions – requests to extend the leasehold of a flat prior to its expiration. This is often essential when seeking to sell your property as most mortgage lenders will not lend on a property with a short lease or one that is due to expire. Extensions are usually a 90-year term
  • Lease renewal
  • Assignment of lease (sale/transfer)
  • Sub-letting – seeking landlord consent or taking action in respect of unauthorised subletting in breach of agreed contract
  • Landlord licences or consents
  • Forfeiture for breach of covenant.
  • Rent reviews (amount and suggested frequency)
  • Deposits – payment, non-payment and recovery of deposit payments
  • Lease termination and recovery of occupation – termination of residential tenancies including Assured Shorthold Tenancies (“AST) and Rent Act Tenancies
  • Rent arrears – debt recovery of unpaid rent for both landlords and agents
  • Repairs – advice on contractual repairs, plus covering the cost of structural and interior damage
  • Service charge disputes – advice on acceptable charges and recovery of unpaid fees
  • Prohibited and permitted payment disputes – advice in respect of payments which landlords and agents are entitled to charge in relation to residential tenancies
  • The right to manage – advice on how leaseholders can exercise their right to manage their property
  • The right of first refusal – advice regarding the right of leaseholders to be offered the opportunity to buy their freehold should the owner wish to sell
  • Any issues arising from the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 in respect of premises occupied for business purposes or long residential tenancies.

Recovering possession of property let under a residential tenancy

Our team are also able to support you in relation to the recovery of possession of a residential property let under an Assured Tenancy or Assured Shorthold Tenancy (“AST”).

Unlawful eviction

Under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 it is a criminal offence (liable on conviction to an unlimited fine, imprisonment up to 2 years or both) to:-

  • Unlawfully deprive (or attempt to deprive) a residential occupier of their occupation of a property (or any part thereof);
  • Do any act calculated to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or persistently withdraw or withhold services reasonably required for the occupation of the premises as a residence with the intent to cause the residential occupier to, inter alia, give up the occupation of the premises or any part thereof.

Accordingly where a tenant fails to return vacant possession of a residential property after expiry of a relevant notice it will be necessary to pursue Court proceedings to recover possession of the property.

No fault possession – section 21 possession proceedings

In certain circumstances a landlord can seek possession of a property let under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (“AST”) on a “no fault” basis without giving a reason. In order to do so a landlord must first serve a notice in accordance with section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 expiring on or after the end of the fixed or periodic term.

If a tenant fails to deliver up vacant possession by the date specified in a section 21 notice a landlord can apply for an accelerated possession order if they are not claiming rent arrears i.e. the only purpose of the claim must be to recover possession of the property with no other claim being made. The Court fee for such claims is £355.

Ordinarily in England 2 months’ notice must be given to the tenant that they will be required to vacate the property. However this period has been extended to 6 months under the Coronavirus Act 2020 (currently until 31 March 2021).

A landlord cannot obtain a no fault possession against a tenant in respect of a tenancy that commenced on or after 1 October 2015 if, inter alia, they have:-

  • Not provided a copy of the Government’s “How to Rent” guide;
  • Not served and energy performance certificate and/or gas safety certificate;
  • Not protected any deposit (which must not exceed 5 weeks’ rent) received within an authorised Government Tenancy Deposit Scheme (where the tenancy was granted on or after 6 April 2007);
  • Required and received payment directly (or to a third party) of a prohibited payment in connection with the tenancy.

At present (and currently until 28 March 2021) a landlord using the accelerated possession procedure must file with a Claim Form a notice setting out the knowledge that they have as to the effect of Covid-19 on the proposed Defendant/s and their dependants.

Possession under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988

If possession cannot be claimed under section 21 of the 1988 Act possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or AST can be sought using one or more of the grounds set out at Schedule 2 of the 1988 Act. The possible grounds include but are not limited to:-

Mandatory grounds on which a Court must grant an order for possession

  • Ground 1 – The landlord previously occupied the property as their only or principal home and/or requires the property as their only or principal home and gave notice (unless deemed just and equitable by the Court to dispense with such notice) in writing not later than the beginning of the tenancy that possession might be recovered on this basis.
  • Ground 2 – A mortgagee requires possession of the property for the purposes of disposing of it with vacant possession in their exercise of a power of sale.
  • Ground 6 – The landlord intends to demolish, reconstruct or carry out substantial works on the property (or part thereof) and the intended work cannot reasonably be carried out without the tenant giving up possession of the property.
  • Ground 7 – The tenancy has devolved under the will or intestacy of the former tenant and the proceedings for the recovery of possession are begun not later than twelve months after the death of the former tenant or the date on which the landlord became aware of the former tenant’s death.
  • Ground 7A – Serious anti-social behaviour where there has been a conviction or breach of a previous order.
  • Ground 7B – The Secretary of State has given notice to the landlord in writing that the tenant/s or some other person aged over 18 who is in occupation of the property is disqualified as a result of their immigration status from occupying the property under the tenancy.
  • Ground 8 – Both at the date of service of the Section 8 Notice and the hearing there are rent arrears as follows:-
    • If rent is payable weekly or fortnightly – at least eight weeks’ rent is unpaid;
    • If rent is payable monthly – at least two months’ rent is unpaid;
    • If rent is payable quarterly – at least one quarter’s rent is more than three months in arrears;
    • If rent is payable yearly – at least three months’ rent is more than three months in arrears;

Discretionary grounds on which a Court may grant an order for possession

  • Ground 9 – Suitable alternative accommodation is available for the tenant or will be available for them when the order for possession takes effect.
  • Ground 10 – Some rent lawfully due from the tenant is unpaid on the date on which the proceedings for possession are begun and was in arrears at the date of service of the Section 8 Notice.
  • Ground 11 – The tenant has persistently delayed paying rent which has become lawfully due whether or not any rent is in arrears on the date on which proceedings for possession are begun.
  • Ground 12 – Any obligation of the tenancy (other than one related to the payment of rent) has been broken or not performed by the tenant (or residing at or visiting the property).
  • Ground 13 – The condition of the property or any of the common parts has deteriorated owing to acts of waste by, or the neglect or default of the tenant or any other person residing in the property.
  • Ground 14 – The tenant or a person residing in or visiting the dwelling-house has been guilty of conduct causing or likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to a person residing, visiting or otherwise engaging in a lawful activity in the locality or to the landlord of the dwelling-house, or a person employed in connection with the exercise of the landlord’s housing management functions.
  • Ground 15 – The condition of any furniture provided for use under the tenancy has deteriorated owing to ill-treatment by the tenant or any other person residing in the property

A section 8 notice must identify the specific ground/s being relied upon for the purposes of seeking possession of the property (it is not sufficient to simply state the ground number) and will remain valid for 12 months after it is served. If a landlord fails to commence proceedings before the expiry of a notice they will need to serve a fresh notice and wait for the relevant notice period to lapse before commencing proceedings.

The ordinary notice period in respect of a Section 8 Notice is between 2 weeks to 2 months depending on the ground/s being relied upon. However these periods have mostly been extended to 6 months under the Coronavirus Act 2020 (currently until 31 March 2021), subject to a number of exceptions. In particular where grounds 8, 10 or 11 are claimed the notice period is currently 4 weeks (usually 2 weeks) where there are at least 6 months rental arrears. Where multiple grounds are being relied upon (excluding grounds 7A or 14) the notice period required will be the longest of the relevant notice periods.

If a tenant fails to deliver up vacant possession by the date specified in a section 8 notice a landlord can apply for a standard possession order if they are not claiming rent arrears. The Court fee for such claims is £355 (£325 if the possession claim online service is available).

Secure tenancies

Notice requirements when possession is sought in respect of a property let under a secure tenancy are governed by section 83 of the Housing Act 1985.

Possession claims issued before 3 August 2020

If you made a possession claim before 3 August 2020 you must file and serve a reactivation notice in respect of the proceedings. The deadline to do this is by 4:00pm on 29 January 2021 failing which the claim will be automatically stayed.

Please do not hesitate to contact our experienced Disputes and Litigation Department on our mobile friendly number 033 33 22 1000 or 0800 987 8156 to arrange a meeting and speak to a solicitor in relation to any landlord and tenant dispute.

This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the contents, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by Kew Law LLP.

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