Hello. I am a a 60yr old single woman living in a sheltered flat managed by a registered charity and I'm the only 1 of 18 tenants affected (so far?). The flat is in a 2 storey country 'manor house' set in extensive but very neglected gardens, in a lovely village where I have made many new friends. My 6 month tenancy is nearing the end, when to the mutual agreement of Landlord and tenant as agreed at the start, I could continue to live in the property, with no renewal charge. I paid 6 months rent in advance through a letting agency. I have given the landlord a signed direct debit paying my rent an extra 1 month in advance of that required. I have been what might be called a model tenant, placing tubs of colourful flowers on the lawns at the front of the property, at my own expense for the enjoyment of others and I fill 2 vases of flowers each week as a welcome in the entrance hall and communal lounge. Also making friends with the other (older) tenants and helping if they ask for help, keeping my flat in good order and even found them another tenant when they recently had 3 empty flats, as my sister liked my home so much, she moved into one of the empty flats. She too is a 'model tenant'. In fact as keen gardeners, we wanted to improve the shabby, weedy, overgrown 1 acre + gardens surrounding our home and another large garden surrounding the adjacent 15 resident care home, that we volunteered to work for nothing, transforming it into a lovely paradise of flowers, foliage and attractive views, some at our own expense. I also volunteered to help with social activities in the care home managed by the landlord. I gave a very nice quality dominoes set, 2 packs of cards and entertained some appreciative residents in games. My landlord surprised me a few days ago by asking if I wished to continue living in my flat, which I do. They responded by verbally asking for a tenancy renewal fee of £300 every 6 months for as long as I wish to live here. They claimed this was required by the letting agency, who have confirmed they no nothing of this and find the amount and frequency excessive. I said that the Government do not pay me enough benefits money to pay this recurring charge and that I could not afford it. I was instantly given verbal notice to quit in 2 months time. That night I researched tenancy renewal fees online and realised that my landlord has no right to claim substantial fees not itemised in our 1st contract, as per UK Government legislation released 6th March this year (I moved in 10th April, so I'm protected against unfair charges). Nor have I been offered a new contract with this fee included. I again spoke with my landlord and asked if they had made some mistake? They said the payment was required by the letting agent as part of a management contract with their head office, which they were unable to change or cancel. Both my local branch and their head office of the letting agency have confirmed to me, that they have no further interest in the property and no expectation of any more fees to be paid to them by myself, following successfully introducing me as a prospective tenant to the landlord. If they were to charge a renewal fee, it would be either £70 or £84 only on a 1yr renewable contract. I have since been given a seeking possession letter by my landlord. I feel that they are acting unreasonably and enforcing a 'gag' clause, which prohibits my asking advice about this from the letting agents (happy to help clarify this issue), local council, citizen's advice, age concern, tenancy solicitor etc and positively forbidden to speak of this to the other tenants, other than my sister, who was present at one informal meeting. Like me, she is very concerned that this charge could be applied to the other recent tenants, then long established tenants. Those who bought a lifetime lease 23 yrs ago when the property was built are presumably exempt but should not be complacent. My landlords are the Benedictine Sisters of Grace and Compassion, a small order offering sheltered housing and care home places in various places across the country. I have a very warm and friendly relationship with the 8 nuns in my local community and occasionally do free copy typing for 1 who is doing religious studies. I'm hurt that they should treat me like this and I believe they have been wrongly advised by someone at their head office, who should have checked their facts and government legislation before issuing a notice of possession. If forced to leave, I will be homeless and I'll incur tenancy checkout fees, lose my significant deposit, gain a bad tenant reference and have to pay removal and storage charges whilst being homeless and applying to my local council and housing associations for emergency housing. It will be probably be in an unattractive and noisy town area, where I will be afraid of renewed ASBO abuse and crime and I will have to have my beloved cat rehomed, as very few sheltered flats permit pets.
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 as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return.
In short you do not want to pay an excessive renewal fee, have I understood you right please?
Yes. On taking my 6 month tenancy, it was verbally agreed by letting agent, landlord and myself that at the end of 6 months, if agreeable to LL and tenant, the tenancy could continue as a periodic tenancy. I asked if there would be any renewal fees or any other recurring charges. The LL said no, the LA said no and it was not written in the contract. I believe that my LL (head office) has been ill advised, is not aware of recent changes to tenancy law and is not aware of the full impact of forcibly serving notice on me to quit and any costs to be incurred on both sides. I have an excellent relationship with my local landlords, 8 lovely nuns who manage my block of 18 flats and the adjacent 15 bed care home, even doing voluntary work for them and renovating 1 acre+ neglected gardens on a nil budget and some of my own expense. As I'm the only tenant who found their flat through a letting agent, my LL is imposing this renewal fee on me, saying they are tied into a management contract with the agents, which cannot be cancelled. Both the local agent and their head office say they agreed a 6 month introductory contract only and if they were going to charge a renewal fee (which they aren't), it would be either £70 or £84 and as a model tenant it would make sense to keep me long term. With my confirmation that the £300 would not be paid because the government doesn't pay me enough benefits money to do so and I was already economising to cover the £575 a month rent with only £100 weekly housing benefit. My LL is therefore singling me out for harassment, both financial and social, fear of eviction/ homelessness/ soaring costs using up all money I cpou
And you think that the law prevents excessive fees - can you name the Act in full please?
Did anyone else witness the conversation about the renewal fee, or lack of it please?
sorry typo can't edit out. I could put towards a removals/ storage and new tenancy elsewhere (not easy to find, as I live in the same house as my dear sister, who I see daily and share meals with and I will probably lose my much loved cat). We are worried that I am just the start of this tenancy renewal enforcement by the LL, who may apply the same to my sister and 2 other new tenants who moved in after me. Presumably the few remaining lifetime lease holders and long term tenants will not be included. A 'gagging' ban by the LL prevents my being able to discuss this with any tenant other than my sister, who is trying unsuccessfully to mediate. They are also furious that I replied to the letting agent letter I was sent, refusing to pay the £300 fee demanded on their behalf by my LL. I have had 22 yrs of ASBO crime and abuse, which has seriously affected my mental and physical health and my life expectancy age 60 is not good. I have notified my doctor of my return to crisis health levels and asked for help if I should need mental health sectioning or have a 3rd heart attack. If my head office LL could admit there has been an error, the seeking possession order is cancelled and they recognise and apologise for the significance of the harassment, serious distress and expense they are causing me, we will be able to continue a happy relationship as before.
Yes. Did anyone else witness that you would continue on a periodic tenancy and pay no fees?
Yes, my sister who also witnessed the 2nd informal demand for the £300 renewal fee, which upon being refused as not in my contract and unaffordable, resulted in immediate verbal confirmation of my 2 months notice to quit, followed by a letter 2 days later. My local LL contact, a very sweet and gentle senior nun, was horrified that I had contacted the agent about the fee. Its causing a huge row at head office and a big headache for the nun returning to her home in Sri Lanka for the 1 month holiday she has been saving her days off for the past 10 years. Her deputy senior nun is equally appalled at the way our good relationship has broken down. I'm on my way to chapel with the nuns in a few minutes, continuing an outwardly good relationship, whilst the dust settles.
You should agree to resign but then refuse to pay the renewal fee. In law they can not evict you if you do not pay the renewal fee. If you are living at the same address, in the same situation then you can sign the document but refuse to pay the fee.
If they try and do anything then you can quote a number of cases: Chartwell Residential v Mr & Mrs Grayston (2010), Chesterton's Lettings v Mr Finney and Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999 which states:
(1) A contractual term which has not been individually negotiated shall be regarded as unfair if, contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations arising under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer.
(2) A term shall always be regarded as not having been individually negotiated where it has been drafted in advance and the consumer has therefore not been able to influence the substance of the term.
Indeed these cases and Regulations have found that charges by Landlords can be unfair. Your security in your property would not be affected, so sign the document and say you are not going to pay the renewal fee and that they should take you to Court.
You can cite the above cases and the Judge should decide in your favour. You have case law on your side and the consumer regulations.
They are clearly trying to rip you off and you should not stand for it.
Can I clarify anything about this for you please?
this is the sheltered housing I live in http://www.housingcare.org/housing-care/facility-info-86605-oakampton-house-great-barton-england.aspx
Thanks for advice, sorry I left to go to chapel with the nuns.
Thank you for your reply and advice. I'm unable to find again the website reporting important changes to UK Government Law on protection of tenant's rights and renewal of tenancy fees, which was introduced on 6th march this year. It called for tenancy contracts to be clearly worded and to include any fees be fully explained. End of 6 monthly contract excessive renewal fees being forced on a tenant or quit the property were cited as a cause for concern, reducing many vulnerable low income tenants to debt and cutting back on food and heating to continue living in their home. If this fee is repeated 6 monthly for the lifetime of the tenancy but not included in the tenant's original contract which was promised as a roll-over continuing contract if satisfactory to landlord and tenant, I believe the landlord or letting agent introducing LL and tenant, to be illegally harassing the tenant for unjustified financial gain. Please confirm, as this will prove my defence if this goes to court.
Alex has been such a help, understanding my complex situation, finding and quoting previous legislation is similar cases and summing up that as I would more than likely win my case, mediation and cancelling the possession order with an apology, may salvage a good tenant/ landlord relationship. Thank you.
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