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Landlord wants to carry out major works?

Landlord wants to carry out major works?

Postby CountryLad2016 » Mon May 15, 2017 11:39 pm

I have today been informed by my landlords letting agents that my landlord will be carrying out what maybe substantial works to my home to bring it up to spec for new EPC Regulations which come into force 1st April 2018.

They have requested that I allow access to my home for a EPC assessor who will produce a report stating what needs to be done. The letting agent said this could be as simple as draft proofing the windows and doors through to replacing the windows and doors, re-roofing and digging external and internal damp proofing.
The letting agent has also made an appointment to visit me here at home this Friday 19 May to, as she put it, "access what each room is used for" whatever this means?

When speaking to the agent she kept emphasising how much noise, disruption and stress this is likely to cause and I get the distinct impression that they are angling for me to move out - whether that is temporary or permanent it remains to be seen.
My fear and sneaking suspicion is that the landlord is going to use this as an excuse to get me out and then either only allow me back at an inflated rent or, if I cannot pay it, rent it to someone else for an inflated rent. If the landlord is not driving this then the letting agent maybe as they receive a commission based on the monthly rental price.

My question is where do I stand in all of this?

According to the below page on the citizens advice website it seems to be saying that different rules apply if the work my landlord wishes to do is vital repairs (which I do not think they are) or just home improvements but in my present state I may well be reading it wrong.

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housi ... eing-done/

In the following I will explain further.

The cottage I rent is a small three bedroom (the rooms really are tiny) which forms part of a country estate belonging to a fairly old and prominent family.
It is rented under a rolling Short hold Private tenancy and I have been here since May 2010.
Never any problems, rent always paid on time.

The property was not in great condition when I rented it and it is unheated apart from two old electric storage heaters (one in the main bedroom and one in the front room - which I had replaced with newer models last autumn). The estate offered to keep the rent down if I made repairs and improvements, and they also said it was mine for as long as I wish.

I have made a lot of improvements including full redecoration every two years, inside and out - a complete new kitchen and repaired three of the window frames that were rotting in places. As the estate were not willing to replace them I physically cut out the rotting areas before shaping and fitting replacement hardwood by hand. I then had to re-glaze two of them before repainting.

I have created a large (by today's postage stamp standards) a very well stocked garden - the previous tenant before me was an elderly lady who kept a horse on what is now my back garden. There was no garden, just weed infested steeply sloping scrappy grass, the one hedge that was here had been allowed to grow leggy and wild, and rather than proper fencing the property was surrounded by 6ft tall Chicken wire buried a foot deep.

Until around 20 or so years ago my garden was used as the estate dump, literally and you only had to dig down 5 inches or so and you dug up all kinds of broken glass, old iron and animal bones galore.

It has taken me seven years to get the garden to a point where I am happy and I have done all of the work by hand on my own and at my own expense.
I dugout and removed all of the chicken wire and installed proper post and wire fencing.
Cut and laid the old hedge - it looks perfect now.

I then literally dug and sieved the WHOLE garden to a depth of 12" - 14" - bagging and taking the resulting broken glass and so on to the local recycling centre - there was tons of it and I went through four brand new sieves.

I removed all of the topsoil from the bottom of the slope and piled it to one side (all by hand using a spade and wheel barrow), then did the same for the top. I then dug the clay out of the top (in places to a depth of 4 or 5 feet and put it at the bottom before moving all of the topsoil from one side over to the other and repeating the clay digging. What this did was to level the whole garden out and give an even spread of top soil.

This took me more or less 16 months.

Then I planned the new garden on paper including a fenced Fruit Garden, separate fenced Veg Garden, 3 lawns, and two flower borders. After marking out and sowing the lawns (leaving the grass to germinate and grow) I installed the fencing for the Fruit garden and Veg garden areas.

I enriched the fruit and veg area soil with tons of manure and compost from B&Q (and I do mean tons) before planting Rhubarb, Black, Red and White currants (3 plants of each), Tayberries, Blueberries and Pinkberries (3 plants of each), Gooseberries and fully caged Strawberry's and Pineberry's. All of which are now mature and producing more fruit than I can give away. I also planted a Cherry and a Pear tree (both are producing fruit now) and rejuvenate by careful pruning and feeding a very neglected and sickly existing apple tree.

I then created a seating area using aged slabs on several tons of sand topped hardcore, created and stocked two large herbaceous borders, plus installed various arches and planted various scented shrubs.

It sounds like I have spent a lot of money on all of this and I have but I went without a lot and scrimped and saved to do it. After all as far as I understood, this was my permanent home and that the rent would remain low. I stocked the borders mainly by propagating seeds and plugs on my window ledges and growing them on but the fruit plants and trees were purchased from nurseries.

Horse riders, walkers and dog people are always complimenting me on what I have done which is nice and my garden is now well known within the local community.

Things about two years ago things went downhill for me on a personal level when I had a Cancer scare and had a tumour removed. Then my dog - who I have had since a pup developed increasingly severe fits. It turns out he had a brain tumour and he died in my arms - this hit me very hard as we were deeply bonded.

Six months later my mother who was 84 (she lived 200 miles away from me) got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, lost her footing and fell face down. She was rushed to hospital and was in a real bad way - she had broke her nose and half of her face was black. My brother, the hospital or none of my relatives thought to tell me of this and I only found out when I tried to phone her and could not get hold of her. She was fiercely independent but I insisted on calling her 3 or 4 times a week if only to check she was OK. In hospital she did not well and she developed a stomach/bowl infection causing her a lot of pain and to stop eating. She was still in hospital six weeks later when she suffered a heart attack and passed away.

As I was her executor I spent three months staying in her home, arranging her funeral, applying for probate, redecorating her home for sale and dealing with matters of her estate. As her eldest son I could not grieve for her, my younger brother was just interested in what sum he was going to receive and did not even attended her funeral. Various family member were being downright difficult and selfish and what with losing my dog and then my Mother I nearly had a breakdown. I am still on medication for this now.

Then while stationary at traffic lights I was hit from behind by another car and suffered quite bad whiplash. Yes I know this is a common scam but I was actually hurt and even now I get numbness, burning sensations and shooting pains in my right arm together with neck and back pain that affects me so I can hardly walk some days but be perfectly ok a week later.

Mums house finally sold late last year and I was able to wind her estate up.

I could now begin to come to terms with her passing.

While I was staying at her home my own garden had suffered with one of the borders becoming overgrown with weeds and nettles and the lawns had developed a moss problem.

A month ago I purchased a small powered lawn rake/scarifier (on offer at B&Q) and I removed all of the Moss - 32 rubbish bags worth and took them to the recycling centre 6 bags at a time (that is all my car could take). I then scarified and over sowed the lawns.

My mum loved flowers and gardening and at the suggestion of my doctor, as part of my grieving process, I have completely re-dug the overgrown border and I have started from scratch planting all of her favourite flowers. Because of the whiplash this took me around two weeks and several bottles of painkillers but it was for my mum. I have also scattered my dogs ashes over this border as Mum doted on him and he loved her. It was comforting to me to think they were kind of connected now.

As this was for my mum I spent some of the small inheritance that she left me to purchase more mature plants rather than seeds and plugs. I suppose it was rather expensive but for me, emotionally, I needed to get it done and see results so I somewhere to go and see her and my dog (if you understand what I mean by this). It was going to be a place where I could go and sit with them both when I needed to and I only completed the planting on Saturday gone.

Then today I received the news from my landlords letting agent.

I have gone into as much detail as I have above to try and impart just how much time and emotions I have invested here. This is my home, I may not own it but it none the less my home.

I gave up a 30-40 rollups a day, 40 year smoking habit as Mum hated smoking and I was staying in her house. I kind of did it out of respect to her and now because of the stress I am craving one - I found some old nicotine patches in a cupboard but they are not helping. I do not want to start again but I am in a state. I tried and failed a fair number of times to quit previously.

If you have read this far then thank you and if I can provide any further information do please ask.

I know legal advice is not allowed but I would welcome any suggestions or thoughts.
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Re: Landlord wants to carry out major works?

Postby dls » Tue May 16, 2017 5:02 am

Welcome.

The landlord seems to just want to get this right. He has a simple alternative. He gives two months notice to expire after the current term expires.

I am sorry, but none of the rest has any significant affect. An assured shorthold is in its very nature a short term agreement. You carry out the sort of works you do at your own risk.
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Re: Landlord wants to carry out major works?

Postby Voldemort » Tue May 16, 2017 9:34 am

dls wrote:Welcome.

The landlord seems to just want to get this right. He has a simple alternative. He gives two months notice to expire after the current term expires.

I am sorry, but none of the rest has any significant affect. An assured shorthold is in its very nature a short term agreement. You carry out the sort of works you do at your own risk.


Does the assurance by the landlord/estate (if evidenced) not create potential estoppel issues over and above any short term agreement?
“The estate offered to keep the rent down if I made repairs and improvements, and they also said it was mine for as long as I wish.”
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Re: Landlord wants to carry out major works?

Postby theycantdothat » Tue May 16, 2017 10:03 am

Voldemort wrote:Does the assurance by the landlord/estate (if evidenced) not create potential estoppel issues over and above any short term agreement?
“The estate offered to keep the rent down if I made repairs and improvements, and they also said it was mine for as long as I wish.”


That may operate to keep the rent down, but it cannot operate to allow you to stay as long as you wish. That is because an essential requirement for a tenancy is that at any given moment both parties must know its maximum duration. However, it may also operate to give the tenant the right to compensation if the tenancy does not continue long enough for the tenant to have derived some benefit from the works he has carried out.
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Re: Landlord wants to carry out major works?

Postby Voldemort » Tue May 16, 2017 10:16 am

theycantdothat wrote:That may operate to keep the rent down, but it cannot operate to allow you to stay as long as you wish. That is because an essential requirement for a tenancy is that at any given moment both parties must know its maximum duration. However, it may also operate to give the tenant the right to compensation if the tenancy does not continue long enough for the tenant to have derived some benefit from the works he has carried out.

I understood that the doctrine of Estoppel superseded any contractual obligations, particularly where detrimental reliance to a promise could be established and assertion of contractual rights would be unconscionable?

The promise in this situation appears to be both the lower rent and the length of the tenancy.
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Re: Landlord wants to carry out major works?

Postby dls » Tue May 16, 2017 10:20 am

There may be an argument which could be run, but I think it would be only from desperation, and it would be very unlikely to succeed.

The provisions affecting assured shorthold are essentially statutory and not based on contract.

Whatever was said, the tenant then signs something which says something different, and then renews on the same basis.

Again, this sounds like a landlord trying to do the right thing.
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Re: Landlord wants to carry out major works?

Postby atticus » Tue May 16, 2017 10:22 am

There may be something in estoppel if the landlord is trying to get the OP out. To go down that route the OP will need to show that he did the significant works (kitchen, garden etc) in reliance on that assurance. "Detriment" to the OP is clear - he did the work, spent the money.
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Re: Landlord wants to carry out major works?

Postby theycantdothat » Tue May 16, 2017 10:42 am

Voldemort wrote:I understood that the doctrine of Estoppel superseded any contractual obligations, particularly where detrimental reliance to a promise could be established and assertion of contractual rights would be unconscionable?

The promise in this situation appears to be both the lower rent and the length of the tenancy.


The snag is that you cannot contract for something which the law regards as impossible. The law says that the maximum duration of a tenancy must when granted be fixed or ascertainable. If a tenancy is agreed on terms that it can only end at the tenant's will its maximum duration is neither fixed nor ascertainable when it starts.
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Re: Landlord wants to carry out major works?

Postby atticus » Tue May 16, 2017 10:54 am

But a tenancy can roll over indefinitely.
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Re: Landlord wants to carry out major works?

Postby theycantdothat » Tue May 16, 2017 11:03 am

atticus wrote:But a tenancy can roll over indefinitely.


Agreed, but a periodic tenancy meets the requirement that at any given moment the parties know it maximum duration.
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