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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10915
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Good morning. I live in the Westminster area in a two-floor

Customer Question

Good morning. I live in the Westminster area in a two-floor rented maisonette flat which I moved into in 1976, having lived in the flat below for ten years previously. I am now semi-retired, 73 years old and, so I am told, a sitting tenant. A few years ago a housing advisor for Westminster told me that my flat had not been registered by the landlord, and accordingly said I was due a one-year rebate. This was admitted by the landlord and I have been refunded the amount they owed. They apparently have altered my tenancy to a statutory one since then.
There were various jobs done in the hallway and common parts area of the entire building after around 2003 to conform to new regulations... new lights, new intercom, decoration and fire equipment. Rent was not increased during this period, but I was given an unexpected and huge rent rise in the region of about £6,000 two years ago, which I imagine was to make up for the lack of increase every two years while improvements were being made. I was given no warning. For me this is a vast amount for a pensioner.

In February this year the landlord again asked the VOA to increase my weekly rent from £440 to £500. VOA refused because it appears the landlord had not provided the correct information. However, last week another rent increase was mooted, this time for £613 per week, a vast increase since the previous attempt.

I realise I live in an expensive area of London, but I am wondering whether the landlord can keep putting up the rent, so-called fair rent, for someone who has been living in the building for nearly 50 years and is now on a pension. Do I have any recourse to negotiation? I know that sometime VOA do not agree to the rent proposed, but if they do this time, I will not be able to afford to stay in the building much longer, and my entire life and work arrangements have been built around this flat. Also, I do not have any contact which says I have to contribute to the common area upkeep. The landlord, on the other hand, is doing absolutely nothing to improve my unfurnished flat. I have recently recarpeted and decorated the stair area at my own expense, and asked the landlord to replace my electric boiler in the bathroom, which is in the region of 25 years old and using too much electricity. He is doing nothing about it.

Please help me to know what rights I actually have for appeal, if any, to this new rent increase.

M. Hill
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 2 years ago.
Hello,

I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.

I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.

Thank you!
Nicola
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

 


Hello.


Thank you for trying to solve my questions. I am rather running out of time, as I go away the middle of next week and have to reply to VOA before then.


I have been told by the Westminster Housing expert that there is nothing I can do to stop the landlord applying for higher rent every two years, but that the VOA are the arbiters of how much he can expect to squeeze out of me.


It has to conform to the fair rent rules.


 


If you think there is anything else that will help me deal with this, then I can wait another couple of days. If not , then please cancel my request and any payment that may have gone through.


 


Perhaps you will let me know your thoughts on this.


 


Thank you,


 


Mary

Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 2 years ago.
Hello Mary,

We will continue to look for a Professional to assist for the time being.

You can still request a refund at any time.

Thank you for your patience,
Nicola
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Hello my name is Alex and I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return You do not need to wait here as you will get an email when I reply.

Do you still need help?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Good morning,


 


Yes, I would appreciate a second opinion as to whether or not I have a case. I know VOA don't necessarily allow the increase as demanded, but I have had one very large increase already two years ago, and it looks as if my landlord is overly taking advantage of a pensioner. Can I do anything?


 


VOA wrote on 7th May and want a reply within 14 days as to whether or not I want a meeting with him and the landlord, but I may not have a case. What do you think? The landlord has done nothing at all to improve the flat since 1976 and is still not replying to my query for a new boiler in the bathroom, so all the improvements are mine. I don't think his expense on the common parts should be anything to do with my rental.


 


I have thought of trying to get him to buy me out, as I can't go on like this. Should I wait to attempt this until after the rent is settled, or would it be easier to ask now? And does one normally go through a solicitor to get the best deal for this step, or can I simply write to the landlord myself?


 


Your thoughts much appreciated, but I am urgently in need of a reply, if that is possible.


 


Many thanks,


 


Mary

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Do you know what type of tenancy do you have please?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It became a statutary tenancy in July 2013. This was after the landlord was obliged to pay me back a year's refund because he had never registered the building. Before that it was just a simple payable monthly contract with no description. I know the landlord owns the freehold of the entire building, which was a family home, now let out into 3 flats and an office on the ground floor.


 


Mary

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
The Landlord can't get you out of the property without a Court Order.

However if he tries to seek a Court Order he will have limited grounds in which to evict you. If he has tried to charge you higher rent and the VOA have set the amount - you only need to pay the amount set by the VOA - nothing more.

If he tries to charge you more then you can complain to the VOA and he will have to go through that process. However you only need to pay rent set by the VOA.

His agreement will only allow him to vary the rent on limited occasions so he can't just go ahead and try to put it up when he wants, he must do it in accordance with the agreement.

For more information please see:

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/eviction/eviction_of_private_tenants/eviction_of_regulated_tenants

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Alex

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
If this answers your question could I invite you leave feedback on my service which I hope has been excellent today, if you need more information or help then please click reply.

Please remember that I am always happy to help if you have future questions, even if I am in Court I can normally respond within a few hours. For future information, please start them with ‘For Alex W’.

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