Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I ask did you ever sign any form of formal tenancy agreement or lease for the flat?
When I first came in I signed a simple paper with the buisness letterhead on it stating the rent would be £350. I had a rent book but it wasn't used after about 6 months.
Thanks. From what you say you moved in in 01/97. However you say you moved in earlier than that. For the avoidance of doubt what year and (if you know it) month did you actually move in?
I did move in in Feb 97. I have council tax proof from Jan 98. I am still searching for rent book and original letter for proof of 97 - but that was definitely the time.
Very sorry but I have to rush out - an emergency has arisin with my daughter.
I should be bac k in an hour.
No problem. I hope all is ok. I will prepare something in your absence. Please come back to me if you have queries on your return.
Based on what you say above finding that evidence of a move in date of Feb 1997. You are right on the cusp of when the tenancy laws underwent a significant change. If you moved in on or before 27 February 1997 then you may be an assured tenant. If you moved in after 27 Feb 1997 then you are likely to be an assured shorthold tenant with far fewer rights.
If you can show that you moved in before 27 Feb 1997 and the landlord cannot show that he gave you something called a s20 notice then you are likely to be an assured tenant and must be very careful in renegoting any new tenancy and should not agree to sign anything without checking the document with either citizens advice or an advisor from shelter to ensure you do not lose protected tenancy rights. Such rights can be valuable because if you are an assured tenant then the landlord cannot force you to move out providing you pay your rentexcept in very limited circumstances and also you can force the landlord to bring the property up to required minimum standards without threat of eviction.
In terms of rent the rent the landlord can charge whether you are a shortold tenant or an assured tenant as above will be market rent. i.e. the equivalent rent for a similar property in its present condition to other properties in the area. You can fairly easily do some research using services such as rightmove and zoopla to find the market level remembering that if the property is in poor condition this will impact the rent level. Also remembering not to sign anything until you have had it checked as above if you are an assured tenant or think you may be.
If you are an assured tenant although you are liable to pay a market rent as above, you can seek to leverage your position on the basis that the landlord cannot simply evict you so if you cannot agree on a rent figure he has no choice but to seek a determination from a property tribunal which is a lengthy(ish) process and has some limited costs assosciated with it. This may persuade the landlord to accept a lower rent than he may otherwise demand and he may be reluctant to bring the property up to standard and may prefer to accept a lower rent than spend money to be ableto charge more (assuming you are content to remain without improvements of course).
The starting point would therefore seem to be to obtain evidence showing your move in date so as to establish yourself as an assured tenant to give you a strong grounding. From there conduct market research on rents as above, and consider a low end proposal for rent to the landlord using a combination of the market research you conduct and the above points.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you?
Hello. I hope all is ok with your daughter. Have you been able to review the above?
I'm back now thank you. I see you have sent me your thoughts but I can't easily read - only one line at a time in the box above. Can you please advise me how to open it.
I am sorry you are having difficulty reading the above. Would you like me to ask that it is emailed to you instead as there are six paragraphs of information?
Thank you it would be very helpful to email me.
Certainly. If you have no further questions right now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. This will complete the thread and allow me to contact customer services. If there is anything else I can help with or answer once you have had a chance to read the above information, please reply back to me at any time. I will be pleased to assist further without further charge.
Thank you so much. I will do the rating.
Many thanks. Do let me know if I can clairfy or assist further.