Here is a question to the blog clinic from Patricia who is a disabled tenant
I am a tenant renting a property, I do not have a rent book but have lived here and paid the rent for 6 months (it’s a friends house). I am interested in updating the bathroom as I have a disability & wish to change the bathroom and put in a walk in shower.
The cost of this would be around £5000. I also wish to update the bedroom furniture costing approximately another £1000.
How can I ensure that the landlord does not evict me after I have made the improvements & how can I have a legal interest in the property.
You need to be very careful indeed about spending large sums of money on other people’s property, as the story here shows.
You already have a legal interest in the property as a tenant. What you need however, is more security of tenure than you have as an assured shorthold tenant, where you can be evicted on relatively short notice under section 21.
The best thing would be to get your landlord to agree to convert your tenancy into an assured tenancy (as opposed to an assured shorthold tenancy which is almost certainly what you have now).
This would give you long-term security and your landlord would find it hard to evict you for anything other than rent arrears, as section 21 will no longer be available to him.
However, very few landlords would be willing to do this and if he takes advice, most legal advisors would advise against it.
You may also be able to persuade your landlord to give you a long fixed term. However again, many landlords will be unwilling to do this.
It would also be against your interests to have a fixed term of more than seven years (which I suspect you would want) as then the landlords’ statutory repairing covenants would no longer apply meaning that you would be responsible for all repairs to the property, which could prove expensive for you.
However, if your landlord is aware of the work that you do and does not object to it you may have a defence if your landlord then proceeds to evict you within a short period of time. This would be under a legal doctrine called ‘estoppel’ which is where the law does not allow someone to rely on their strict legal rights if they have stood by and allowed someone to act on the basis that those rights would not be used.
So for example this could well work in your favour if you are able to show that your landlord allowed you to do this work, knowing that you believed you would be allowed to stay long term.
If indeed this was the case.