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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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, I'm a Regulated/Protected tenant of 30 years. I have just

Resolved Question:

Hi, I'm a Regulated/Protected tenant of 30 years. I have just had a Rent Officer meeting with landlord. New Landlord took over 3 years ago and effectively agreed to the terms of my tenancy contract. I have no written tenancy contract but have been told that I still have an implied/inferred contact as all the consistent behaviour of last 30 years would prove. The Rent Officer at the meeting made statement that the new rent registered would no include water rates, which have always been included for 30 years. Previous landlord made this clear to new landlord who accepted the liability as terms of my contract. Previous Rent registration clearly includes water rates in the rent. There was a change in law V12010, I have researched which allows rent officer to not include this therefore landlord can seek extra charge on top of registered rent. Does rent officer have authority to overrule my tenancy agreement that has been in place for 30 years. Surely any change to my contract must be by mutual agreement and not unilateral decision of one person, or a judicial ruling if this was taken further. Does this fall into Contract Law, which 30 years of consistent behaviour would prove and the exact wording and RR1 form from previous landlord and present landlord that water is included in rent?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts :

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

Alex Watts :

In short no.

Alex Watts :

Your tenancy agreement is a contract.

Alex Watts :

The contract can not be changed without your consent or approval.

Alex Watts :

Therefore both parties are bound by the terms of the contract.

Alex Watts :

The only way it can be changed is if there is a clause in the contract which allows it to be changed.

Alex Watts :

So unless there is such a clause, or you agree then no it cant be changed

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

JACUSTOMER-06wnhngp- :

Hi Alex,

Alex Watts :

Hi

JACUSTOMER-06wnhngp- :

As I do not have a contract in writing, is this more problematic? I was told by judge who specialises in housing law and is a lecturer at a University that not having a written contract does not negate my tenancy contract as the implied/inferred contract would still be permissible in law. To verify my terms I can prove by the rental payments and the RR1 form from first landlord that clearly says the water charges are included, and the new landlord also in writing has accepted this. Would this be enough proof.

Alex Watts :

That is correct. Just because its not in writing does not mean that you have anything other than a protected tenancy

Alex Watts :

If water charges are included in the first tenancy, this cant be changed.

Alex Watts :

They can not change the terms without your consent

JACUSTOMER-06wnhngp- :

I was always told that not having a written contract puts me in a very strong position. When my first landlord attempted to get me to sign one just before he sold the property I refused as it didn't cover all the terms I had enjoyed over the extensive period, as I already stated, I am a tenant now of 30 years. I am very worried about this, but can I argue with the VOA Rent Officer that she does not have the legal jurisdiction to apply this, as this is a new proviso than came into operation in 2010, surely it doesn't override my tenancy contract?

JACUSTOMER-06wnhngp- :

Thanks

Alex Watts :

You are correct.

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

JACUSTOMER-06wnhngp- :

Yes, I now have to argue this in writing before she registers it, I'm concerned that they will argue that they can now in law determine who pays this cost, even though it has always been borne by the landlord.

Alex Watts :

Indeed.

Alex Watts :

You have a historic tenancy which helps.

Alex Watts :

You have never paid water charges before separate, which also helps/.

JACUSTOMER-06wnhngp- :

I'm not sure how this site works, as I am paying just for this question or for a weeks worth?

Alex Watts :

The thread is for this question only. If you want to ask me more questions can I ask you to post a new question?

Alex Watts :

That way I am credited for the time spent on each question

Alex Watts :

But any billing questions etc can I ask you to contact customer services as I have no access to that

JACUSTOMER-06wnhngp- :

Can I rate you after the outcome of my arguing with the VOA about my legal rights? Does that mean I would have to pay again?

Alex Watts :

Once you rate you can come back to the question at any time (although the site may say the chat ends).

Alex Watts :

If its related to the same question and topic then you can ask follow ups for free

JACUSTOMER-06wnhngp- :

is there any chance of getting the exact legal wording to help me compile my complaint letter to VOA? As you've stepped out who answers me now? how do I bookmark your profile, does that mean I will always get you for any property law questions? thanks

Alex Watts :

If you want me for future questions then you simply ask for me: Alex W.

Alex Watts :

Sadly I can't draft the letter for you as it is against site rules.

Alex Watts :

You simply say that you are a protected tenant. You have been there for 30 years.

Alex Watts :

The contract is implied by law and implied by conduct.

Alex Watts :

You have the rights of a protected tenant and as a matter of contract the contract can not be amended without your consent.

Alex Watts :

Therefore on this basis that the water was always included, the terms can not be changed to exclude water

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

JACUSTOMER-06wnhngp- :

Thank you Alex, I wasn't asking for you to draft the letter, just any legalise that I could quote. Yes, that does help. I will crack on with the letter, can I let you know how I get on? thanks

Ash and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Alex,

I just wanted to double check a point of law. The Rent officer, when questioned said the landlord's right to seek extra charges on top is contained in 1977 Rent Act Section 70 and the VOA - Valuation Office Agency information site states following:

Determination

Water rates or water charges

V1 2010

Section 71 (1) of the Rent Act lays down what must be included in a registered rent. It establishes that anything payable by the tenant to the landlord must be included in the registered rent even if it is under a separate agreement from the main tenancy agreement.

** IMPORTANT**

However, Section 71 (2) excludes “rates” from this principle and states that if the landlord is responsible for rates the rent registered must be “as if the landlord wasn’t responsible for them but the registration must note that he is”.

This means that the rent is calculated exclusive of rates but the register must state that the landlord actually pays the rates.

Section 71 (3) then allows the landlord to add the cost of the rates to the registered rent.

In summary, if the landlord pays the rates, he can add the cost to the registered rent. If the tenant pays the rates then they do so to the billing authority directly.

IMPORTANT**Water Rates

Most rates ceased many years ago and local government taxation is now via council tax (which can be included in the registered rent under s71(1) as explained above).

‘Rates’ are defined in s152 as including “water rates”. This means that if a property is individually rated and the landlord pays the water rates, the rent officer registers the rent exclusive of the water rates but the landlord recovers them on top of the registered rent.

Does this constitutes 'legislation'? And if so, does this give the right now for landlord to seek extra charges even though that have always been included for last 30 years, or to reiterate, does/would my implied contract take priority in Law - if it came to a legal fight?

Thanks

you said I could ask more questions on this thread, as I can't afford another question.

If that is not correct, and I will be charges again please let me know.

Thanks

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
The Landlord can't charge you extra for it because there was simply no provision to in the agreement.
Thus the Landlord has to absorb it
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Alex,

Gosh, this site is not easy to navigate!

I've just read your reply, just found it!

Ive now signed up to JustAnswer for a month, as I wasn't sure if you'd get a continuation of the original thread.

I wrote a letter to VOA, but as you will read from the info I've pasted, it says they '‘Rates’ are defined in s152 as including “water rates”. This means that if a property is individually rated and the landlord pays the water rates, the rent officer registers the rent exclusive of the water rates but the landlord recovers them on top of the registered rent.'

'Rent officers need to be clear about whether they are dealing with ‘water rates’ which are not included within the registered rent or ‘water charges within the service charge’ which are included in the registered rent.'

Sorry Alex, I just need absolute clalrification, especially as the VOA is a govt agency, they are obviously applying changes with legislation.

Would I argue that as they were always included, this should be considered as 'service charge'.

Thanks, ***** ***** I can find my way back to this thread!

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Yes you argue just that.Its included in your agreement!
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Alex,

thanks. I don't mean to be a pain, but as you know in law, if I don't cover all the bases and miss an important part, it could cost me, quite literally, as well as being incompetent. I want to be absolutely sure.

I'm just not sure how much power the VOA has, as they are a government agency and they legally Register Rents, therefore, the information I pasted comes from their own VOA Website, in the Handbook for Rent officers when considering a Rent Registration decision.

Can I ask you to directly address the wording quoted, will they counter argue that this is now the law re water rates for all tenants?

Many thanks

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
The VOA are not lawyers!
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Alex, please don't get frustrated.

As you can imagine, I need to water tight when it comes to objecting to their inclusion that the landlord can now seek extra charges.

I've written a letter outlining my implied contract and what right they have to force me to relinquish those terms that have been in place for 30 yrs, I just get an awful feeling this won't be the end.

anyway I can update you on the outcome, do I just write on this feed?

thanks for your help, thus far.

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Sure.
Alex