Our workshop on the subject of evictions took place on the 6th December at LADPP. If you missed it – don’t worry! We have summarized the most prominent questions and answers in this article.
Our workshop on the subject of evictions took place on the 6th December in partnership with Latin American Disabled People’s Project. A housing case worker Sarver from Southwark Law Centre delivered the workshop in English and Rachel from LADPP translated the presentation into Spanish. The workshop was well attended and gave Southwark residents the opportunity to ask questions to a housing expert. In fact, there were so many questions that the workshop overran by an hour!
A large proportion of questions centered around rent increases. Many attendees reported feeling forced to consider moving because they could no longer afford to pay the rent. Others reiterated that due to the lack of affordable housing in Southwark, knowing their rights was more important than ever to ensure that they are not evicted or forced to pay a higher rent.
We have included few of the asked questions below. If you rent your home privately and have an evictions-related question which is not covered in the following Q&A, drop us a message via our contact form here
My landlord has asked me to vacate within 3 weeks. Is this reasonable?
It depends on the type of tenancy you have and the terms of it. For example, if you pay your rent weekly, one weeks’ notice may be sufficient. Similarly, if you have agreed with the landlord at the start of your tenancy that 3 weeks’ notice is sufficient, then it is likely that the notice is reasonable.
Other times, for example, if your agreement is a fixed-term Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), the notice period is no less than 2 months. If you are a lodger (a person who co-resides with their landlord), 28 days’ notice is usually the norm.
Always seek advice from Citizens Advice Southwark or Shelter if you are not sure. Knowing what type of contract you have is very important to ensure that your landlord is not trying to illegally evict you.
My landlord has given me a Section 21 notice. Does this mean I need to vacate within 2 months?
Not necessarily. Section 21 notice is essentially a warning that landlord intends to evict you within 2 months’ time. However, the landlord needs to follow many steps and do them correctly before the eviction can take place. Many landlords serve Section 21 without applying via courts for a possession order and a warrant, meaning that eviction without these documents cannot take place and landlord is just hoping that the tenant will leave! Stay in your home and seek legal advice if you are unsure of the next steps.
Citizens Advice Southwark or Shelter can offer free advice. You can also learn about Section 21 here
What should I do if the landlord sends me a message, advising that my rent will be increased from a specific date onwards?
Check your contract first – is the landlord simply reminding you of something that you have agreed at the start of the tenancy? If so, you are technically contractually obliged to pay the increase as stated in your contract.
Nevertheless, the landlord cannot:
- Increase the rent within the fixed period unless this is written in the contract
- increase the rent higher than what is stated in your tenancy agreement. For example, if your contract states that the rent will be increased by £50 per month from January 3rd 2023, the landlord cannot increase the rent by £100 because this is not something you agreed to when you signed the contract.
If you do not have a written contract or you are on a rolling contract, your landlord must serve you with Section 13 before the rent can be increased. Section 13 is a formal notice of rent increase. If the landlord has not served you with this notice, keep on paying your rent as per usual. You are under no obligation to pay more rent if your landlord has not followed the correct procedures.
My landlord is selling the house and has served me with Section 21 notice. He has given me all the documents correctly and have applied for possession via courts. Do I have to leave?
If your landlord has done everything right, there might be little room to stay in your property longer than the notice date. Nevertheless, you should always seek legal advice to be 100% sure that the landlord has followed the correct procedure.
In the meantime, keep an eye out for property listings or ask around – you might be able to find something cheaper and better in your area.
If you are at risk of homelessness, contact Southwark Council for help or seek help locally from local organizations, list can be found on our website here .Citizens Advice Southwark can help you fill out a homelessness application.
My landlord has notified me that they will increase the rent. Do I have to agree to it?
No. Your rent does not change if your landlord just tells you that it is being increased. If there is no written agreement between you and the landlord regarding rent increase, you do not have to agree to the rent increase.
For rent increase to take place, the landlord must either:
- have signed a tenancy agreement at the start of your tenancy to state that the rent will be increased by a specified date and by what amount OR
- sign a new contract with you where you agree to the rent increase OR
serve you with a Section 13 (see rules that the landlord must follow here
I don’t mind paying a bit more of my rent but I think that the proposed amount is too much. What should I do?
First, try negotiating with the landlord. Explain why you think the increase is too high and what would be reasonable increase to you.
Second, if the landlord has served you with a Section 13 notice, you can challenge it at a tribunal. You can download and complete Form Rents 1 from GOV.UK
and send it to the tribunal for your region with a copy of the section 13 notice. You can find the address of your tribunal regional office at the end of the form. Please note that there is always a risk that a tribunal could set a higher rent than your landlord is asking for.
Third, if all else fails, keep an eye out for property listings or ask around – you might be able to find something cheaper and better in your area.
Fourth, if you are at risk of homelessness, contact Southwark Council for help or seek help locally from local organizations, list can be found on our website here
I have received Section 8 notice. What should I do?
Your landlord can give you a section 8 notice if they have a legal reason to end your tenancy. For example, rent arrears or anti-social behavior. Your landlord must give you a reason and use the correct prescribed form and follow certain procedures. Useful info about Section 8 notice can be found here
Please note, that process is relatively complex and takes time. You do not need to vacate until the you are given a 14-day notice by the bailiffs. Sometimes the court can stop an eviction, so it is always worth seeking legal help if you are unsure.
My landlord has verbally asked me to leave multiple times and keeps on switching off the heating. Is this legal?
No. Switching off heating is harassment. The landlord needs to follow legal procedures to evict you.
Notify Southwark Council of your landlord’s harassment. The Private Sector Housing Enforcement Team can be contacted via the webform here