Joshua helped me in March with my dad’s landlord, Harmek Singh Gill. Dad’s 82, lived in a rented house since Jan 1986 with a regulated tenancy (£45pw paid weekly). LL put the house on the market in June 2014 (trying twice to illegally evict dad to gain vacant possession).
End of June, 2015, the estate agent dumped it off their books as Gill wouldn’t accept any offers made (agent considered all reasonable given regulated tenant and state of property).
In May, LL ‘threatened’ dad with rent increase. Valuation Agency Office (VOA) inspector visited and said no improvements had been made so there’s no increase to property’s value, but as Gill hadn’t applied for increase in 6 years, VOA felt the rise in rental market should at least be reflected in new registered rent.
VOA letter 01.06.15 (rec. 05.06.15), stated they valued property at £50pw.
Historically, my parents have taken VOA's letter as notification of increase and paid new rent immediately. However, as LL has never observed rules during 30 years of tenancy, I decided to enforce the correct procedure in order for him to increase the rent. I did some research and believe that to increase the rent he has to supply dad with a correctly completed Form No 1 of the Rent Act ‘Notice of Increase of Rent’.
From 12th June to date LL’s sent many texts saying rent rose 1st June and claiming arrears; I’ve sent letters and a few texts back explaining it hasn’t increased, there aren’t arrears and why.
27th July, LL finally hand-delivered ‘Form No 1’; but I’ve shown this document to the local authority and tenants association and we agree it’s incorrectly completed and so no increase has been applied and the rent remains £45.00 (which I pay).
I’ve a PDF if you want a copy, but Gill’s Form reads:
‘A rent of £50 per week (exclusive of rates) has been (registered by the Rent Officer) for the above premises and takes effect from (left blank by Gill...)
I hereby give you notice that your rent (exclusive of rates) will be increased as follows:-
Present rent £45.00 per week
New rent from 1st June, 2015 £50.00 per week’
However, it’s the belief of Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Tenants Association and myself that the information on the Notice should read as follows to be compliant:
‘A rent of £50 per week (exclusive of rates) has been (registered by the Rent Officer) for the above premises and takes effect from 1st June, 2015
Present rent £45.00 per week
New rent from 17th Aug, 2015* £50.00 per week’
(i.e. *4 wks from Notice date 27th July?)
The Notice clearly states ‘The date at * must not be earlier than the date in paragraph 1 above (1st June) nor 4 weeks before the date of service of the Notice (27th July)’.
It’s my understanding that in putting 1st June, Gill voided the Notice as it backdates the document 8 weeks (27th July to 1st June) and denies dad his 4 weeks’ notice period.
It’s our understanding the LL can claim 4 weeks arrears, which would cover the period from 17th Aug to date of Notice, 27th July, not June 1st.
We believe Gill has to provide my dad with 4 weeks’ notice of a rent increase.
We believe Gill has to supply a correctly compiled, ‘Notice of Increase of Rent Form’ for the increase to take effect (unless I ‘set precedent’ by paying the increase regardless of formal notice).
We believe Gill needs to supply a new Form 1, dated with that day’s date in order to legally increase the rent (so if he did it today, it would be dated 29th Sept, new rent would start 27th Oct with 4 weeks backdated rent claimed from 29th September – in other words, £50pw from Monday).
Can you please confirm what I’ve been telling Gill is correct?
That he hasn’t managed to increase the rent, and so has no legal footing...
Also, Gill’s been bugging Social Services to move dad out whilst LL carries out ‘full refurb’. Environmental Health, Birmingham CC and SS agree it’s a ploy to get dad out so LL can sell the ‘vacant’ property! On their advice, we’ve refused LL’s request.
Dad’s now had a letter (PDF also available) purporting to be from solicitors, 'Ravi, Dilan and Hayer', in Smethwick. It says RDH are working on Gill’s instruction but, and I know this is a strong accusation, I think the document has been faked by Gill. It discusses the rent and repairs, it’s worded quite intelligently, but there’s no case reference or return contact given and form ‘RR-2A’ is referenced which I find deals with apartment lets in New York! But most curious of all is the fact that the signatory is Gill himself, not anyone employed by Ravi, Dilan and Hayer.
A letter written by a solicitor on behalf of their client which is then signatorised by the client; would this even happen, Joshua?
I haven’t contacted the firm; I’m uncertain how to approach the matter. I don’t know what the legal implications are if it is faked...
Yes, I am okay with waiting, but I would appreciate a response within the next few days so I can move forward on it.
Is it likely you will find someone, though?
Is my query that's the issue, or a shortage of people on your site that can answer it?
Oh, that's a bit odd...
Is my query the sort that most solicitors will avoid like the plague, lol?
I thought they'd be champing at the bit to get their teeth into something this involved...
Okay, thanks Nicola.
Thanks for responding. I need to know if I am correct in my understanding of the requirements for the completion of Form 1.
I also want to know if the solicitors letter is real or faked, and what the legal implications are for Gill, if he has faked it.
I will stick to my guns on the Form 1, then. The rent hasn't been increased, and he needs to complete the form properly.
I have also spoken with Social Services, and they confirm Gill cannot use them to enforce dad's removal from the property for the repairs. Dad had a SS review yesterday, and they are happy with the status quo. The social worker said she will ring Gill to tell him to back off.
As for the letter, are you saying you think Ravi HAS written it?
Would a law firm write a letter and get the client to signatorise it?
What would you advise in taking the matter forward? Should I contact Ravi and ask them to respond regarding the queries I have or do you have a better approach?
Thanks for the advice.
If Gill has written the letter himself, besides fraud, would it also be considered harrasment?
And if it is a case of fraud, is it Gill at fault, or the law firm for letting him use their letterhead? We suspect the letter IS faked by Gill, but don't know how he would have obtained the letterhead; it is certainly a genuine law firms stationery (as we have checked RDH out online), and a local printer has confirmed the letterhead is genuine and not a photocopy?
Would the SRA follow up an investigation regarding RDH if they supplied the letterhead?
And, if RDH are innocent in all this, would a private action have to be brought against Gill by either RDH or us, or would the SRA bring it themselves?
In that case, I guess I will contact the firm and see what they have to say about it.
Do you want to be kept updated on it?
I'll be in touch.