Hi there I have been living in my flat for 17 years, nearly 18. Originally my husband sublet from a housing association tenant as short term 'caretaker', and I stayed here with him. A year into our stay the original tenant surrendered his tenancy as he had been living in Copenhagen and had no intention of returning to the UK. At the time, a letter arrived from the Housing Association saying the tenant had surrendered his tenancy...addressed to someone else, who was supposedly also on the tenancy agreement...but had not lived in the property for many years. The housing association never came to collect keys or anything, and we were too nervous about contacting them, and never did, but continued to pay the rent. All along letters arrive from the HA in the name of the tenant who we understood had left his tenancy. Seven years ago, my husband and I split and he moved out. I have continued to pay the rent. ...I'm not familiar with the housing situations etc. and didn't feel able to contact them lest they ask me to leave and I have no where to go. I have been registered on the electoral role and otherwise at this address for the entire 17 years.I've always taken exceptional care of the property and paid the rent pretty much on time until last year when I became quite ill with rheumatic fever. I was out of work for 3 months so I was late on the rent significantly through that period. Then became late late again in Nov Dec as, due to still ill health, had to reduce my work hours by half...so have been struggling this last year. Last week a Court Order for Possession due to rent arrears arrived. Coincidentally I had just paid the entire rent arrears so it arrived the day after. The order however is in the original tenants name. I realise someone needs to respond to the court order, at least, if not the Housing Association, and if no one shows up on the day--in a months time- by default the Housing association takes possession.
I am unsure and unclear as to my legal position, and how to secure myself. I have no where else to go, and will be homeless otherwise! I would like help determining the best steps of action to take right now to address this Court Order, avoid homelessness and ideally, secure tenancy.Any and all advice would be hugely appreciated. Thank you.
Do you have proof that you have been in the building and paid rent for 17 years?
Hi there Law Denning
Yes...initially my husband paid cash and I should have the majority of the receipts...and since 2005 I've been paying directly out of my bank account. Just the other day I sent through the direct debit order which very clearly has my name on it and states that the tenant is of another name.
You are going tohave to face this. There is no easy way out of it. If they decide to apply forpossession or eviction, you are going to have to defend their application onthe basis that you have paid rent for 17 years and therefore you have animplied tenancy. That is why it is important that you have proof of payingrent.
You could go tocourt and plead ignorance and say that the housing Association continue towrite to the old tenant, in spite of you being there for 17 years and mentionthat the direct debit clearly comes from your account. What would not reallysupport that is that you have no proof of writing to the housing Association totell them that the old tenant was no longer there.
This is not a do ityourself job and I strongly suggest you try to find a solicitor who deals withthe landlord and tenant matters on the legal aid basis.
Meanwhile, you aregoing to have to write to the court to say that this person named on theproceedings is not the tenant and that you are and that the rent is up-to-date.Explain that you have been in the property for 17 years and provide proof ofrent payments.
You must write tothe housing Association in the same terms.
I urge you to seea solicitor as soon as you can
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I'm sorry if it wasn't clear in my first outline but I have a letter from the Housing Association stating that they are aware that the tenant has surrendered his tenancy. ....this is from 16 years ago.
In which case, my answer is the same, but it strengthens your position.
Simply tell the HA and Court that the name is wrong on the paperwork.
Sorry, not entirely clear , when you say 'tell' how shall I tell them?The Order of Possession includes two ways to respond
1- an online response code --which is in the tenants name-
2- defence form for a statement and area to put name and address, etc...personal details, along with outgoing and income etc...
So I should just respond to the Order of Possession and put my name on the form? And can I respond to the online channel even though it has the tenants name on or am I committing a crime that way?
So this is the actual order not an application?
You have to apply to have it set aside on grounds that the rent is up to date and the paperwork is in the wrong name.
You need to write to the court. I would deal on paper not online
Yes, as I said in my very first message, this is an Order of Possession.
I'm concerned now that you have given me advice based on something else.
It simply means the process is more advanced
If it is at possession order stage then you must have had lots of paperwork leading up to this stage.
You need to get the order set aside or next you will get an order for eviction and bailiffs will be calling to physically throw you out
I think I'd explained that I had been extremely ill- (rheumatic fever, unable to walk and take care of myself) for nearly 3 months, and why things got very backed up. I had not even gotten through all my mail from the last 3- 4 months until last week, which is where I noticed a Notice for Possession in November...but I had paid the arrears from that, and was a month behind in january. Its been a very hard several months physically, with no support financially or otherwise. And of course, I totally understand the implications entirely, as I said in my original message...and needed to know procedures to help secure my position. 'More advanced', doesn't tell me my position, or what I can do to secure my position. Just telling the court to adjourn the order because I've paid the arrears- in fact am in credit- doesn't give me any idea of my rights unfortunately. ..and I see if I go online I can change the details of the tenant name to my own...but again, this doesnt tell me my legal standing. This is my concern.
I hope CAB can give some clarity on Tuesday.
Your legal standing is that you have to apply to court to set aside the order for possession. It is as simple as that.
You are also goingto have to hit the Housing Association head on with regard to the tenancy beingput into your name.
If you wantsomeone actually local to you and on the ground to assist you, you would bebetter contacting a solicitor as I mentioned earlier, or getting in touch withyour nearest office of Shelter.
Some citizen'sadvice bureaus will deal with this and some do not.