Is your tenancy agreement deposit with a landlord protected?
Q: I rent my house from a private landlord and moved in January 2018 when I signed a 12-month tenancy agreement and paid a deposit of £500. I never signed another agreement. I don’t know if my deposit is protected – I’ve never received any information about it. My landlord gave me a written notice two months ago saying I had to leave the property by last week. What should I do?
A: It sounds like you have an ‘assured shorthold tenancy’. Although the original term has ended, your tenancy continues and runs from month to month or week to week, depending on how often you pay your rent.
As you paid a deposit your landlord must use a tenancy deposit protection scheme to protect it. Your landlord must protect your deposit within 30 days of receiving it and give you certain details about the scheme they have placed it in. If your landlord does not do this then you may have a claim for compensation.
It sounds like your landlord gave you a ‘Section 21 Notice’. The law says that for a tenancy such as yours these notices must be on the correct form, the current version of form 6A. If your landlord has simply written you a letter that will not be a valid notice. In addition, your landlord can only rely on a s21 to obtain possession if they have given you certain documents: a gas certificate, an energy performance certificate and a copy of the government booklet ‘how to rent’.
If your landlord has not protected the deposit and / or given you the prescribed information about that then he cannot in any event rely on the s21 procedure.
There is also a potential defence if you have complained about disrepair issues in writing, and the local authority serve a relevant notice on the landlord in relation to that disrepair.
You will not have to leave the property on the date specified in the notice. Your landlord cannot come and evict you or change the locks or remove your belongings. The landlord has to get an order from the court if you have not left.
However, if your landlord can show that the correct procedure has been followed, and a valid notice served then a court will have to give him possession. You will be responsible for the landlord’s court costs and fixed legal fees. You should therefore seek urgent advice because if the notice is valid, and the landlord has complied with all the procedure then you may wish to consider leaving the property before the landlord issues proceedings, to avoid costs being ordered against you.