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  • Problem Tenants

    Eviction Section 8 and dealing with Shelter

    I attended court yesterday in order to follow up on my section 8 claim. My tenant hasn't paid rent for the best part of a year. He hasn't been working since July 2018, the local council stopped his housing benefit (or he hasn't pushed his case strongly enough) and he has mental health issues.

    He has minimal income and probably no where to go.

    Shelter are now involved and the case is now becoming serious with accusations of mould, damp and bowing ceilings. Shelter have requested 'an inspection' and a request for legal aid for a future court date (in 5 weeks time). Tenant advised through an intermediary last year for me not to contact him so I can't verify his claims of property neglect.

    I now need to establish my next move.

    I have heard that going to court vs Shelter can become a paperwork nightmare and a prolonged affair that costs time and money and ultimately the court are reluctant to make people homeless. For these reasons very few legal firms are willing to take on such work.

    Questions are:

    1 Is it worth pursuing this case given the above ?

    2 Do I communicate with the tenant and try to resolve the 'issues' in the property before the court date ?

    3 Do I look to help the tenant in order to help him move into other accommodation ?

    4 Does anyone have any knowledge / experience of dealings with Shelter and their MO ?

    Thanks

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    This is a bit of an exaggeration. Shelter are just like any other legal firm acting for tenants. Plenty of solicitors are prepared to take them on. If there is a disrepair case there will always need to be an expert involved to assess the disrepair.

    If your tenant does not wish to communicate with you then you cannot make him so you should really engage with Shelter, or ask your solicitor to do so, in order to agree the expert and the form of their instructions.

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    David Smith
    Landlord & Tenant Solicitor
    Anthony Gold Solicitors

    Find me on LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/dsnsmith

    All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my firm. No comment made should be taken as legal advice and you should consult a solicitor or other legal professional for advice on your specific situation.

    David - there was little appetite in my part of the world for such a case, given that the legalities started way back when at the beginning of the tenancy, prior to any solicitor being involved.

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    I believe shelter act just like any legal aid funded solicitor.  there are lots of housing solicitors who do landlord work, but wont be cheap.

    if the mould is due to condensation, then that is usually a tenant responsibility.  if its a leak etc then prob landlords.  bowing ceilings are prob. an issue only if they are unstable (also depends on age, character and prospective life of dwelling).

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    The Section 8 claim is a mandatory ground for possession.

    Even if the tenant is alleging disrepair, you can still get the possession order and the tenant can bring a separate claim against you for disrepair. Just hire a good landlord and tenant solicitor and Counsel and you should be fine.

    However, as others have said, yes you will have to pay and the process may be a little more drawn out but you should succeed.

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    This is certainly NOT a case you want to be bringing - defending without professional advice ( and I'm not talking about a few email blogs )  You should have had a contractor to inspect the property by arrangement with tenant or his representatives some time ago.

    It is telling, and a question to be put to the tenant, why he hasn't reported the defects to the local Authority for investigation under HHSRS. - but you will be slaughtered by Shelter without some professional help.

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    Chris - you are right, i decided that mediation was the best route.

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    See this useful info on defending s8 rent arrears cases by offsetting repair costs from those nice people at Shelter....

    https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/hou...nt_arrears


    What drove you not to go down the s21 route for eviction & MCoL for the arrears?  Would be really interested to hear your logic...

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    theartfullodger. I went down the S8 route as I read about the S21 case last year (Schooltz ?)and the potential difficulties for the landlord.

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    The only reason Section 21/Shooltz would be a problem for you is if you failed to serve the tenant with the CP12 before they moved in. You would need to make sure you comply with the other prescribed requirements (How to Rent, EPC etc) before serving the S21 but I believe that the CP12 is the only deal breaker for a S21 from these requirements.

    S21 is always a better option for evicting as there is no chance for the tenant to defend/counter claim - the judge has no choice but to evict. You can not claim for the lost rent at the same time but the chances are that you won't get the rent anyway as he has no money. As suggested by theartfullodger you can claim separately for the rent using MCoL/Small Claims Court if you want to try to recover it.

    You could look at dropping the S8 case and issuing S21 but you may have a problem as I assume the tenant has complained about the disrepair in writing. This would mean that a S21 would be seen as a revenge eviction. Have you written to the tenant/their solicitor/the intermediary arranging for access to inspect the problems/possible solutions giving timescales. You need to do this within 14 days of receiving notification of the problem. If the tenant refuses access for this then it will look bad for them in your S8 hearing.

    If the tenant allegations of disrepair are correct, you may be able to use S8G6 to evict as it could require substantial works to fix which would mean the tenant could not live in the property, particularly if the tenant won't talk to you (which would mean he wouldn't want to see you in the property on a daily basis to manage the works).

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    Thanks for your input - appreciated.  I have since spoken to the tenant and agreed on a course of action which we are both happy with.

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