Even though there have been some moves to protect tenants (such as increased notice periods for most evictions between September 29 2020 and March 31 2021), landlords – in their constant attempts to endear themselves to the general public – are still trying to push their luck and evict tenants sooner than they are legally allowed to.
During a pandemic, no less.
We advocate direct action instead of using the courts to settle disputes – taking liberty rather than waiting for deliverance – but often it doesn’t have to escalate that far. Sometimes, all you need to do is show that you know your rights, and won’t be intimidated.
Recently we’ve seen landlords try everything from bullying to emotional blackmail, but most commonly it’s setting an illegal notice of eviction and acting sheepish/embarrassed/faux-hurt/indignant when called out on it.
Case Study 1
One landlord decided that as it might be hard to find tenants in a pandemic, they would request that their existing tenants leave at short notice so they could move new tenants in. Yes, existing tenants. They didn’t provide a formal Section 21 notice, nor did they give the required notice period.
The landlord had initially agreed a six month notice period set in August, which would have seen the tenants out in February. The tenants were happy with this. Then, they had a trademark change of heart and in September told the tenants they wanted them out by November, a month after their contract ended. This is illegal under normal Section 21 regulations, let alone the extended notice periods found in the Coronavirus Act.
After a quick phone call to clarify their rights, the tenants went back to the landlord and explained that they wouldn’t be leaving until February. Showcasing the famed negotiating skill of the capitalist class, the landlord offered the tenants half rent to make sure that they were indeed out by February. Win.
Case Study 2
This landlord decided that they wanted their property back, and used a mixture of emotional blackmail and lies of omission to try and get their tenants out in three months on a Section 21 notice, as opposed to the current notice period of six months.
After an attempt at eliciting sympathy with the tenants over a poorly relative, the landlord tried to justify ignoring the six month notice period by telling the tenants they were on a rolling contract (doesn’t matter, still six months).
As the landlord was decent (or, not overly hostile) to the tenants during their tenancy, they were uncomfortable about being overly antagonistic. We suggested they had the opportunity to negotiate reduced rent in exchange for leaving on the landlord’s preferred date, but as they were already not paying for an empty room they did not go for this However, they were clear that while they would try and be out in three months as a courtesy, they would take the full six if necessary.
We advised that they be on the lookout for any examples of Landlord Harassment between now and their tenancy ending.
What we can take from this is that, while landlords will often try their luck, lying in the process and setting illegal notice periods, they often fold like a paper plate in a dishwasher when pressed by someone who knows their basic rights.