Here is a question to the blog clinic from Janice (not her real name) who is a tenant
I currently rent a property from a family member without a tenancy agreement. The Family member now want us to pay over 3 time the amount of rent we currently pay or wants us out at the end of the month. But we have had no written confirmation about being evicted. Can they do this? and where do we stand without a tenancy agreement?
Whether or not you have a tenancy agreement, your landlord has to evict you through the courts in the proper way or he will
- be guilty of a criminal offence and can be prosecuted and
- you can sue in the civil courts for compensation and (maybe) for an injunction to let you back into the property again
This is a right of all tenants, and all occupiers who are not tenants, under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. There are only a very few circumstances where you can be evicted without a court order and (unless you are a lodger sharing living accommodation with your relative) they do not appear to apply to you.
For your landlord to be entitled to evict you, he needs to have a ground for eviction. To see what grounds available are to him, we need to look at what sort of occupation you have.
Your occupation type
I suspect that you probably have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). In which case your landlord’s best chance of evicting you is under section 21. He is not entitled to evict you for refusing to agree to a rent increase. Or to evict you for rent arrears if the rent has not been increased in a legal manner.
However sometimes where you are renting from a family member the court (in a claim for possession) will decide that you do not have an AST as there was ‘no intention to create legal relations’. In which case you will just have a license to occupy.
Whether this will be the case with your occupation will depend upon the facts. The fact that you do not have a tenancy agreement is evidence against your occupation being an AST, particularly if you are not paying a market rent. However it is not necessarily conclusive.
The significance of your occupation being a licence is that your relative would need to use a different procedure to evict you. It does not mean that he can evict you without going to court at all.
Long term it may be best to find somewhere else to live but in the short term you can stay in the property and you can tell your relative that you have been advised that he cannot evict you without getting a court order first.
Or alternatively, if the 3x rent is actually a market rent which you can afford, you may want to consider saying that you agree to pay the new rent provided he gives you an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.