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

Resolved Question:

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.
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

Do they own the house?

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
The ex husband is the owner of the house, my landlady says the house is leased to her business.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

Do you have an AST?

Customer: replied 12 months 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 12 months ago.
Please, she's in the house now and I really don't know what to do.
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Are you still there?
Customer: replied 12 months 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.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

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

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
I don't know - it's a dispute between them. I just need some legal advice regarding my rights.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

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.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

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

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Should I have given her the key?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

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.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

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

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
I'm looking to leave but I do need to know what my rights are at the moment.
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
While I'm looking around for something else.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

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.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

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 12 months ago.
Ok, so what about this key. She has it now. Should I ask for it back?
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Or should I leave it.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

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

Not your problem.

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
The fact that I signed a letter doesn't matter? He has no grounds to deny me access to the property?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

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 12 months ago.
She was my legal landlady and the owner when I signed my tenancy agreement. I'm on a rolling contract now.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

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 12 months ago.
Ok, thanks for your help.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.

No problem.

All the best.

Please remember to rate my answer,

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