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Landlord Legal Issues January 2016

Tessa Shepperson of Landlord Law answers your questions

Q. I need to put the rent up but the tenants are not willing to pay my new rent. I have served them with a section 21 notice but they say that under new laws this is not valid because one of the walls has a crack in it. Are they right?

A. Probably not. They are probably referring to the new 'anti retaliatory eviction rules' in the Deregulation Act 2015, which came into force on 1 October 2015. This provides for a section 21 notice to be invalid for six months after service of any improvement notice served by the Local Authority.

Improvement notices are generally served after the Local Authority has found a category 1 or 2 hazard after carrying out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System inspection. Under these inspections, properties are assessed against 29 'hazards'. One of these is risk of 'structural collapse' - which may be relevant if the cracks in your property are due to subsidence.

However, these new rules only apply to tenancies created or renewed on or after 1 October 2015 - so are unlikely to apply
to you. Plus the new rules are dependent upon the Local Authority serving a notice. So, just the existence of the crack in the wall is not enough.

Q. My tenant, after initially agreeing to a new 12 month fixed term, is now refusing to sign the tenancy agreement saying that she wants to opt for a periodic tenancy. What does this mean, will I still be able to evict her and how can I increase the rent?

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