Landlord and Tenant Disputes
Disputes between landlords and tenants are common. These are often the result or rent arrears but can also occur when one of the parties breaches the obligations outlined in the lease/rental agreement, or in case concerning lease renewals, subletting and dilapidation. Our specialist dispute resolution experts have experience of representing both landlords and tenants, always opting for the best route to a cost effective, satisfactory outcome.
Being a residential landlord is not easy and the scope for disputes to arise is huge, whether with your tenant over unpaid rent or anti-social behaviour, with your local council over standards of accommodation or concerns about safety.
To tackle any of these disputes effectively, you need a thorough understanding of your rights and obligations and of the options available to achieve a swift and fair resolution. You also need a clear idea of how much pursuing a particular course of action will cost, whether this is justified by the possible benefits to be obtained and if there might be another way to achieve your desired outcome without exposing you to unnecessary risk.
At Wilkinson Woodward, we are fortunate to have experienced property disputes lawyer James Hodgson as part of our team and he is on hand to provide guidance and support to private sector landlords on a broad range of matters. His advice is practical and pragmatic, easy to understand and implement, and geared towards helping you achieve the best possible result in the shortest time frame.James can also help with writing watertight lease agreements which will help to avoid disputes arising in future.
Drawing on James’s expertise, we can help residential property landlords to:
- recover rent arrears, including from former tenants;
- resolve disputes over the handling or return of a tenancy deposit;
- commence standard possession proceedings to recover a property on grounds including non-payment of rent;
- commence accelerated possession proceeding to recover a property on grounds not including non-payment of rent;
- commence proceedings to effect the eviction of a squatter or unlawful occupier;
- apply for a warrant or writ of possession where a tenant refuses to leave despite a court order telling them to do so; and
- dispose of tenant belongings that have been abandoned or deliberately left behind.
A large number of the matters we deal with involve repossessing residential properties where tenants have failed to comply with the terms of their tenancy agreement or have fallen into substantial rent arrears.
In these cases, it is vital that you seek legal advice before asking your tenant to leave. There are strict procedures that need to be followed and, if ignored, could result in an order for possession being refused or you being prosecuted for unlawful eviction.
Assured shorthold tenancies
For example, where a tenant occupies a property under an assured shorthold tenancy the procedure you will need to go through is as follows:
- if you want to regain possession at the end of a fixed term, then you need to serve a section 21 notice giving the tenant two months’ notice to leave;
- if you want to regain possession within the fixed term then you will need to prove non-compliance with the terms of the tenancy agreement and serve a section 8 notice giving the tenant between two weeks’ and two months’ notice, depending on the term(s) they are alleged to have breached;
- if the tenant fails to leave by the date specified, then you can apply for a standard possession order directing them to leave or, in some cases, an accelerated possession order but only where you are not also seeking to recover unpaid rent; and
- if they fail to go as ordered, you can apply to have them forcibly removed by a County Court bailiff or a High Court enforcement officer.
However, there are a number of additional rules that apply and which mean that you should always take specialist legal advice when trying to navigate this complex area of law.
For example, if you are serving a section 21 notice in respect of a tenancy where the fixed term has already expired, then, as well as ensuring that you give the tenant at least two months’ notice to leave, you will also need to ensure that you allow them to stay for any extra period that will be covered by their final rent payment.
Likewise, when considering whether to apply for a standard possession order in respect of a tenant who also owes you unpaid rent, it is important to be aware that you may still be able to utilise the accelerated possession procedure to regain control of your property more quickly if you agree to park your rent claim and pursue it via a separate county court action.
For further information, or advice on your own residential landlord and tenant dispute, please contact James Hodgson on 01422 339600 or call in to see us at our offices in Halifax, Huddersfield or Brighouse.