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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70813
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I urgently need advice. I'm a tenant in a property that is

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Hi, I urgently need advice.
I'm a tenant in a property that is under dispute between the landlord and her ex husband. He is the owner but my tenancy agreement is with her. Today he came and changed the front door lock and made me sign for the key on the condition I do not provide it to anyone else. Tonight she has turned up and made me hand the key over to her so she can go to the police with evidence of breaking and entering.
I really need to know what my legal position is.

Do they own the house?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The ex husband is the owner of the house, my landlady says the house is leased to her business.

Do you have an AST?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This has been a long-running dispute as part of their divorce. I'm just very concerned that I shouldn't have given her the key. I've not been notified of any chance in my tenancy agreement. I have an assured shorthold tenancy.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Please, she's in the house now and I really don't know what to do.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Are you still there?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She's having the locks changed again and she will give me a new key. I just need to know what my position is.

Then the situation depends on whether or not she has a right to rent the property.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't know - it's a dispute between them. I just need some legal advice regarding my rights.

If she doesn't then he could try to evict you. Probably you would avoid eviction for the term of the AST if you could show that you were paying rent without incident though.

If she did have a right at one point and it has expired then the court is not going to evict you.

She may well end up paying costs if she has done this without authority.

Your rights depend on her right to rent. It is not going to be possible to ascertain that.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Should I have given her the key?

If you want to leave then a court probably would uphold your decision in the circumstances.

Give that the husband has attended and changed the locks that would tend to suggest you are being misled.

Just don't make a statement if the police attend. Don't get involved in her stupid childish domestic squabbles.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm looking to leave but I do need to know what my rights are at the moment.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
While I'm looking around for something else.

It isn't break in and entering anyway and that isn't an offence in the UK per se.

She is just trying to use the police to get revenge - like, in truth, most accusers.

Well, as I said, they depend on her rights to rent.

But he isn't going to be able to evict you that quickly even if it is all a hoax on her part.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, so what about this key. She has it now. Should I ask for it back?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Or should I leave it.

No, don't bother. Leave her to it.

Not your problem.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The fact that I signed a letter doesn't matter? He has no grounds to deny me access to the property?

Well, it is not that simple.

The letter you signed when he was there is a non issue. Whatever you signed doesn't change your entitlement to stay if indeed she did have a right to grant this tenancy.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She was my legal landlady and the owner when I signed my tenancy agreement. I'm on a rolling contract now.

Yes, but it depends what has happened to ownership of the property now.

You will never know.

If you are periodic then the actual owner could give notice but they can't just turn up and evict you.

Just refuse a statement when the police attend. Don't be dragged into her relationship nonsense.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, thanks for your help.

No problem.

All the best.

Please remember to rate my answer,

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