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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25471
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I am a tenant in a residential property with a resident landlord

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I am a tenant in a residential property with a resident landlord and a resident landlord tenancy agreement (excluded tenant) provided by the resident landlord association. My tenancy is for a 12 month fixed term with a one month notice period. It's just me and the landlord. There are no other tenants.
Last week I reported a possible issue with the stairs to the landlord as one appeared to be a bit loose. The landlord got a tradesman to attend a day or so later who said that he couldn't repair it as it looked like dry rot and a specialist should look at it. The landlord got a specialist to look at it the following day where extensive dry rot throughout the underside stairs (obscured from view unfortunately) was found. Apparently it requires emergency repair work as it may be unsafe.
The emergency repair work involves removing the whole stairs, chemical treatment, and new stairs and will take about 6 weeks to complete! The landlord has scheduled this for just a weeks time because it's an emergency and apparently neither of us can live there while the work is going on (the toilet and shower is upstairs for one, although my bedroom is downstairs).
So I've been told I have to leave my house in just a week's time for around 6 weeks. I don't want to go, or at least I want a lot more time.
What can the landlord do? Can the landlord evict me for refusing to leave to allow the repair work to be done? If so, how? Does he have to take me to court or can he just change the locks when I'm out since I'm an excluded tenant? The landlord is also threatening to do the works on schedule whether or not I'm in the house since they are just working on the stairs and not my room (which is downstairs), can he do this even though as soon as they start work I can't access the toilet or shower upstairs?
Any advice appreciated!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

May I ask if there is any provision in the lodgers agreement that deals with the house being uninhabitable or you being required to leave because of the same?

Customer:

No, this is a pretty much a carbon copy of my basic tenancy agreement if you want to take a look. http://www.secureguaranteedrent.co.uk/Excluded%20Tenancy%20Agreement%20Lodgers%20Agreement%20-%2007022012.pdf I have 7 months left on my fixed term if that helps also.

Joshua :

Thanks. If you could give me a few moments...

Joshua :

Thanks. There is nothing in the agreement that covers this position. As a result...

Joshua :

Although you are not a tenant you have a contract with the landlord that he provides accomodation defined in your agreement

Joshua :

If he is not able to provide that accomodation because of property disrepair, he is in breach of contract.

Joshua :

If the repairs can be conducted with you in situ (albeit this may be more expensive than with you not in situ) the repairs must be carried out with you there. If this is not possible then the landlord willbe responsible for your reasonable costs of alternative accomodation of a reasonable equivalent standard though you must mitigate those costs so far as possible.

Joshua :

I note you have gone offline. Would you like to continue?

Customer:

I'm still here!

Joshua :

I'm sorry - thanks.

Customer:

What about the provision in the agreement that says they just have to give me back my rent for the period that I couldn't live in the property?

Customer:

At D5. Won't that be deemed sufficient compensation?

Customer:

I've been looking at this advice guide from citizens advice - http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/housing_e/housing_repairs_in_rented_housing_e/housing_moving_out_while_repairs_are_done_e/moving_out_while_repair_work_is_being_done.htm

Joshua :

There is no such clause on the document I am looking at - section D only contains 4 clauses. Such a clause will limit the landlords liablity to a refund of rent. Are you able to reconfirm the link to the document you are looking at?

Customer:

Yeah, it's definately in the agreement I linked to. There are 8 in section D under "We agree to do the following", and D5 says "Give you back any part of the rent that you have paid for any period that the property could not be lived in or accessed because of fire or any other damage that we are insured for."

Joshua :

Sorry you are right I have downoaded the agreement to an external pdf viewer. It appears not to have fully loaded in the browser window I was looking at. The clause you refer to operates as a limitation of liability for the landlord which prevents you from claiming costs beyond that of the rent for the period in question. I am just reviewing the other additional clauses

Customer:

No worries, computers are prone to doing things like that! I'm very grateful for your help.

Joshua :

There does not appear to be anything further relevant to these circumstances. If the landlord is able to show that the work cannot go ahead with you situ and it would be dangerous not to carry out the work then the landlord can require you to move out. He cannot just exclude you from the property as this would be an unlawful eviction and if you refused to leave then the landlord would need to seek a court order to carry out the repairs and temporarily exclude you.

Joshua :

In order to obtain such an order he would need to show exactly as above, that the work is necessary and cannot be carried out with you in situ.

Joshua :

You would likely be responsible for the costs of alternative accomodation during this period less the refund of rent. I say "likely" because interestingly clause D5 is not worded as most habitation clauses are worded which provide that in the event of a property being uninhabitable the landlord may elect to either refund rent for that period or pay for alternative accomodation at his discretion. Here the clause simply states that he will refund his rent but makes no mention of alternative accomodation. Because of this there is a potential opportunity to claim he is liable for your additional costs. However there is some room for interpretation on the point so outcome of a claim is not certain

Customer:

What happens if the workmen just turn up as scheduled and start work to remove the stairs with me being there? Can the landlord do that even though it would deprive me of access to the toilet and shower facilities?

Joshua :

If the landlord starts the work whilst you are there he would still be in breach of contract in failing to provide bathroom facilities. In these circumstances you could seek damages for breach of contract. This would be calculated as a percentage of the rent (because you still have use of the bedrrom and kitchen/lounge). The amount you could claim would likely be in the region of 40-50% of normal rent for the period. As above in order to exclude you the landlord would need to seek a court order.

Customer:

Someone suggested to me that I call the police if he starts work to remove the stairs while I'm there. Would this be a police matter?

Joshua :

In terms of how to proceed, you could start by confirming that the work is necessary. If you consider it is you could ask that the landlord is responsible for rent of alternative accomodation and if he refuses, you could consider a claim for those additional costs on the above basis though the outcome would likely vary depending on the judge. You can also sek confirmation as to the schedule for finishing the work

Joshua :

The police have very little expertise when it comes to housing matters and their views will vary widely from officer to officer. Generally if you can show a lodger agreement they will support a lodger who has been excluded but I have come across situations where they have support the homeowner because it is "their house". Strictly if he is preventing access to the bathroom this a breach of contract rather than a unlawful eviction and therefore not a police matter but the police may (or may not) be willing to help. You could seek an injunction in the county court to prevent the landlord doing the work if you believe it is unnecessary but this would cost upwards of £200 and can cost more if the landlord defends the application with a solicitor

Joshua :

Alternatively you could seek an agreement to terminate the tenancy and seek alternative medium / long term accomodation as a permanent solution.

Customer:

I'm really grateful for your advice! So basically the landlord can't evict me without a court order, but if he starts the work while I'm there and removes the stairs preventing access to the bathroom I can take him to court myself, and he probably doesn't have to give me any more compensation than refunding my rent for the days I couldn't live in the house?

Joshua :

Ultimately it is worth remembering that if you choose to stay you have to live with the chap again after the dust has settled so it is unlikely you will wan to get into a lengthy or hostile dispute as this could seriously prejudice your future relationship with him.

Joshua :

Correct the landlord cannot exlcude you without a court order; you could seek an advance injunction to prevent him carrying out work without an order though it would cost to do so and may be refused if he can show it is necessary and makes an application to exclude. You can claim damages as a percentage of rent if he starts work with you in situ

Joshua :

If you do move out he must refund you the rent for the period though because of the wording of the clause, it does not make a claim for additional costs impossible though the outcome of such a claim is uncertain as it is a matter of interpretation

Joshua :

Have I been able to help you with all your questions on the above?

Customer:

I'm very grateful for your help! You've answered all my questions and I'm very happy with your advice. What do I need to do now to complete the question/answer process? Just rate you highly below or do I need to do something else?

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though. If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me

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