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Landlord Legal Issues June 2023

Landlord & tenant lawyer Tessa Shepperson of www.landlordlaw.co.uk answers your questions

Q. I have purchased a property which is subject to a protected / regulated tenancy under the Rent Act 1977. How can I find out if there is a ‘fair rent’ registered? If there is no fair rent registered, can I increase the rent without applying for a fair rent?

A. There is an online register of fair rents which you can find online at https://www.gov.uk/check-register-rents.

If there is no fair rent registered, then you can increase the rent but this is subject to the rules contained mostly in section 52. In essence, these are that:
• The rent increase must be by way of a written document
• The document must be signed by both the landlord and the tenant/s
• It must include a statement ‘in characters not less conspicuous than those used in any other part of the agreement’, which states that the tenants’ security of tenure will not be affected if they refuse to sign, and
• That signing the agreement will not affect their (the tenants) right to apply for a fair rent to be registered
• This statement must be set out ‘at the head of the document containing the agreement’.

Most tenants, faced with this, will probably either refuse to sign or will apply for a fair rent. If you try to increase the rent without complying with these rules, the rent increase is invalid. If tenants have paid the new rent, they can apply for the difference to be refunded to them or deduct it from future rent so long as this is done within two years.

In view of this, it may be better to ‘bite on the bullet’ and apply for a fair rent.

Q. I purchased a property a year ago with longstanding tenants whom I was given to understand are assured shorthold tenants. They are in serious arrears of rent. I want to use either section 21 or section 8 ground 8 (the serious rent arrears ground) to evict them, but they tell me that they have a protected / regulated tenancy. I think they are lying. What can I do? 

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