Here is a question to the blog clinic from Lisa who is a tenant.
I moved in to my privately rented house in December 1989. I have lived here since then. Now my landlord wants to sell it and is sending agents with potential buyers to view it. Do I have any rights?
I only signed my lease for a year and never signed another one.
We was going through a letting agent but they went bankrupt and so I’ve lost out on getting my deposit back and rent in advance which would have been £1200.
I really don’t want to moved as this has been my home for nearly 25 yrs and I’m finding it hard to find somewhere else to live.
Can anybody give me advice on my rights if I have any please
You do have rights, rather strong rights actually.
Assured rather than assured shorthold tenancy
If you moved into their property before 1997 you will normally have an assured rather than an assured shorthold tenancy. This means you will have long term security of tenure and your landlord cannot use the ‘no fault’ ground under section 21 to evict you.
If your landlord is claiming that you DO have an assured shorthold tenancy, he will have to prove that a notice under section 20 of the Housing Act 1988 was served on you before your tenancy agreement was signed.
If this was all done 25 years ago and the agents have since gone bankrupt I suspect this is not something he can do. In which case you will have an assured tenancy not an assured shorthold and will be entitled to stay.
What this means is that your landlord can sell the freehold of the property, but ONLY subject to your tenancy. He has no special rights to evict you just becuase he wants to sell the property. So if he sells, so far as you are concerned this will just mean that the identity of your landlord will change.
The fact that your initial lease ended a long time ago does not mean that you do not have a tenancy, by the way. Under s5 of the Housing Act 1988 all tenants who stay on after their fixed term ends will have a ‘periodic’ tenancy. See here for more information about this.
Your right to stay
You have the right to stay in your property until evicted by the court under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 (and if you have an assured tenancy it will be very difficult if not impossible for your landlord to evict you).
You don’t have to allow the landlord in to show round buyers unless he is able to show a clause in your tenancy agreement allowing him to do this – this is not a right that landlords have automatically.
If your landlord starts harassing you and asking you to leave, contact your Local Authority tenancy relations officer. Trying to get a tenant to leave without a court order for possession is a criminal offence and may also entitle you to claim compensation in the civil courts.
So far as the deposit is concerned, the fact that it was paid to the agents does not mean that your landlord is not responsible for it. He is still liable to return it to you when you leave (less any valid deductions).
Incidentally, even if your landlord is able to show that you do have an assured shorthold tenancy, he will not be able to use the section 21 ground to evict you unless he has first protected your deposit in a statutory scheme.
You may want to take further advice regarding your situation. See this post for a list of sources of free advice.