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Despite having the best of intentions and a desire to maintain good relations, disputes between residential landlords and tenants are sometimes unavoidable.
How can mfg help residential landlords and tenants?
We have a specialist team of experienced lawyers who can offer help in the following areas:
- Bringing or defending claims for possession
- Terminating and/or renewing tenancies
- Pursuing recovery of rent and/or service charge arrears
- Dealing with claims for disrepairs
- Enforcing lease obligations
- Dealing with contested rent reviews
- Pursuing claims against guarantors/sureties
Our dual perspective on landlord and tenant issues and understanding of the pressures and concerns facing both sides give us unique insight into the best ways to resolve these disputes. Our goal is to help you find a harmonious solution which is focused on promoting your rights and financial interests. If it is necessary to go to court, we will provide robust representation, giving you the best possible chance of achieving a successful outcome.
How do I evict a residential tenant?
Occasionally, landlords will find themselves in the difficult position where they need to commence possession proceedings against a tenant currently residing in their property. There are a large number of reasons for this, the most common being rent arrears or breach of another tenancy covenant.
The process is a complex and sometimes protracted one which is notoriously difficult to navigate, and any accidental errors can invalidate the proceedings, costing a landlord time and money to rectify.
Close attention to detail is always required in order to ensure appropriate notices are given to the tenant including the most common notices based on Section 8 (fault based) and Section 21 (no fault evictions) of the Housing Act 1988.
In the last few years, the Housing Deregulation Act 2015 has introduced major changes to the ability of landlords to evict tenants. In the case of no-fault evictions, are a number of procedures and statutory requirements that landlords must have followed before even starting the process of evicting a tenant. Examples of these are:
- Placing any deposit received from the tenant in a deposit protection scheme;
- Providing the tenant with a copy of:
- The property’s Energy Performance Certificate;
- The government’s “how to rent” guide; and
- A current gas safety certificate for the property, if gas is installed
The consequences of failing to comply with these statutory regulations are severe, as they will invalidate notices which you will be relying upon when proceeding to seek a possession order from the Court.
We therefore always recommend taking legal advice at an early stage to ensure any notice is valid, and that all requirements for possession proceedings have been complied with from the start, to ensure no hidden pitfalls later down the line.
What can I do if my residential landlord has issued possession proceedings?
If you are a tenant facing unlawful eviction from your residential property, we can provide a robust defence.
We can advise you on the legality of your eviction, and check that your landlord has followed the correct legal procedure. If this is not the case, we can proceed to defend the possession proceedings brought by your landlord in order to protect your right of occupation.
Breach of Covenant
My tenant has breached the terms of their lease. What can I do about it?
A lease is a form of contract, and just like any contract, if the terms are breached then a landlord will have remedies available to them.
The most common breaches relate to unpaid rent, service charges, the condition of the property, or carrying out works to the property without the landlord’s consent.
The remedies available to a landlord will vary depending on the nature of the breach, the terms of the lease, and most importantly, what commercial outcome the landlord intends to achieve.
Remedies include, but are not limited to:
- Seeking monetary damages from the tenant for a breach of the lease terms (for example, recovery of unpaid rent, or damages to repair or reinstate the property and remedy the tenant’s breach);
- Relying on a self-help remedy by entering the property and carrying out any repair works, recovering the cost from the tenant;
- Forfeiture of the lease, but only if the lease contains an express forfeiture clause, and for occupied residential properties, only after obtaining a court order allowing them to do so.
- Possession proceedings, as detailed above.
In most cases, before commencing forfeiture proceedings, a notice pursuant to Section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 must be served on the tenant, which serves to specify the breach, allow the tenant an opportunity to remedy the breach, and require the tenant to pay compensation for the breach.
We can provide you with expert advice about the options available, and work with you to consider your circumstances and commercial aims, in order to identify and proceed with the most suitable remedy for tenant breaches.
What happens if my lease is subject to a rent review?
We provide advice to both landlords and tenants in relation to rent reviews and negotiations.
Tenants should never accept a new rent without taking specialist legal advice. Similarly, landlords must ensure they are following the correct procedure and are able to achieve a figure which is fair to them.
Our advice includes reviewing the terms of the lease to establish the provisions detailing how the rent review should be conducted, taking into account any individual circumstances such as the condition of the property and work that needs to be undertaken, before assisting in negotiations to come to an agreement which is acceptable to both parties.
Lease Extension/Purchasing the Freehold
How do I extend my residential long lease?
The majority of leaseholders who have owned their flats for more than two years have the right to require that their landlord grant them a new lease of their flat. This right arises from the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.
If the lease of a flat has less than 90 years left to run, a leaseholder should consider extending it. Failure to do so may result in increased costs later down the line, and the flat becoming more difficult to sell or re-mortgage, due to mortgage companies refusing to lend on a flat where a lease has less than 80 years to run.
Extending a lease of a flat under this Act is complex and requires specialist knowledge in order to avoid a claim being withdrawn.
We can assist both landlords and tenants by guiding them through the process, whether this be through negotiation to reach an agreed premium for the lease extension, or, if necessary, applying to the Property Chamber of a First Tier Tribunal to determine the amount, and any terms of the new lease that may be in dispute.
Can I buy the freehold of my block of flats?
The occupants of a block of flats can purchase the freehold if more than half of the qualifying leaseholders opt to do so. If a landlord intends to sell the freehold, the leaseholders are given the right of first refusal to purchase it. If a landlord sells their interest without first complying with this requirement, they will commit a criminal offence and may be liable for an unlimited fine. The leaseholders may also be eligible to apply for an order in which the freehold is transferred to the leaseholders on the same terms as it was sold to the buyers.
Our specialist Property Litigation solicitors are experienced at guiding both leaseholders and landlords through the lease enfranchisement process.
Why choose mfg Solicitors LLP for your residential landlord and tenant dispute?
mfg Solicitors is a regional law firm based in the West Midlands. We have a wide range of experience and expertise, including the effective resolution of landlord and tenant disputes.
When it comes to residential landlord and tenant matters, we are more than just legal advisors. Each member of our team is a specialist in their field with the understanding of your rights and obligations, strategic insight, and negotiation skills to find a resolution which works for you. Whether you are a tenant trying to protect the right to occupy and enjoy your home, or a landlord seeking to safeguard your investment, we will adapt our advice to your individual goals and objectives.
Get in touch with our residential landlord and tenant law solicitors for further information and specialist advice.
Alternatively, please feel free to fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.
You can also email us or phone us on 0845 55 55 321.