Retaliatory eviction, refusing to do repairs - how best to navigate?

I posted in January about an issue with damp/mould. The landlord did arrange repairs - unfortunately the repairs haven’t worked. It seems that the landlord cheaped out on labor and they did a poor job - our neighbour commented on how uneven the roof is, and the damp issues haven’t gone away at all.

So we let them know this.

The landlord came out to have a look. Agreed there is still a damp problem, it appears to be a structural issue. Looked over other small repairs that need done. Really lovely visit, seemed everything would be fine.

Got an email yesterday that they won’t be doing repairs while we’re in the property and intend to “repossess” it and that we’re to be out by November 1st.

Right now my plan is:

  • Send the local housing authority an email with a complaint and requesting they do an inspection of the property
  • Mail the landlord a physical letter formally requesting the repairs, with tracking to prove it’s been delivered (I’ve got emails, but I want to cover myself to be safe)
  • After the physical letter has arrived, send the landlord an email with the letter attached to ensure it’s been received (I only have the address of their letting agent, who is useless)

I’m nervous. I’m not sure how fast the housing authority is about this. No matter how many times I read the regulations I still worry that I’m somehow in a loophole and we’re going to be left homeless. We have three young kids, two special needs, both of us have serious health issues which are being exacerbated by the damp.

While we’d like to move - it can take time to arrange and find a place.

you can find the landlord address thru Land Registry for £3… Most evictions take a year so you have a long time to find a place, You can rely on the L/A to be slow

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Thank you for the reply!

The landlord lives in America so I’ll check out the land registry but I know that makes some things harder. Won’t be signing a lease without the landlord’s personal UK address on it again.

We’ve never had such issues in over a decade of renting so honestly I wouldn’t have even thought it was a problem if I’d known. Hoping we’ll never have these issues again, either.

I do not know if Land registry can help then ,unless he has an address over here . Worth a shot tho for £3, it might throw up an address.


As Colin said, the local authority is not usually quick about these things so try not to worry.

Have you considered that maybe the reason the landlord is asking for possession is because of the extent of the works required? That it may not be possible to have the property tenanted and in a safe condition if lots of structural works need to take place, which could be the reason they want the property back. I do think the landlord could have handled the communications better with you, but it might be worth having a “friendly” conversation with the landlord to get a bit more information from their side?

As an example, in one of my properties (1 bedroom flat in London), the bathroom is very dated and I’ve been meaning to refurbish it for ages but the flat is always tenanted. I have a good relationship with my tenants and normally I wouldn’t dream of doing any major works while they are in there. However I asked them if they would like this to be refurbished, and they actually said yes and that they could work around not having a bathroom for a few days by using gym showers or scheduling the refurb works for when they are away. So there are ways around this issue and might be worth communicating your flexibility around the works to the landlord I.e. letting them know that eviction isn’t the only solution to major repair works, and the landlord benefits by still receiving rent from yourselves so it’s a win win. At least in theory!

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While they were here, in person, they discussed with us the repairs they intended to do as if they would be done during our tenancy.

We were supportive of that. They’ve got no reason to believe we wouldn’t be willing to accept repairs.

The landlord hasn’t had a proper damp survey done or anyone in to check what the problem is so they literally don’t know the extent of it.

We have had a nightmare with them so I’m out of “benefit of the doubt”.

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The online one has no results so I’ll have to mail in to order an official one. Worth a shot.

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let us know what happens Why he will not sort out while you still live there is anyones guess , save that it is harder to work in an occupied property than an occupied one. As a builder I have worked in both. On the other hand he would not have to find another tenant… to be out in two months will not happen and he will know that

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I doubt they know the property won’t be empty in two months. When they filed a section 13 to increase the rent instead of talking us, they told us to either pay the increase or give our notice - utterly unaware that we could appeal. They insisted that a section 13 is standard, not coming to agreement, and ensures the rent is increased - again unaware we could appeal.

So just for a bit of gossip -

It’s owned by a woman who inherited from her father, and she’s married. They’re both retired. Her husband has had interactions with us via email as well and while she has always come across as very reasonable and understanding - he has not.

The impression we get is that the husband is the issue and we’ve suspected that the in person visit was part of a decision to sell the property.

Their visit gave the impression they wanted us to continue and would be good landlords, so while not surprising the email was a slap in the face.

They live abroad and don’t seem to have anyone in the area to check on the property - the letting agent is useless - so repairs are actually easier to navigate with someone in the property. It also would mean continuing to get an income from it while doing repairs.

I suspect they intend to move in in November and get it ready to sell.

They’re VERY ignorant to UK tenancy law so I imagine they don’t realize that putting the property for sale can impact the eviction process in their favor. (At least from my understanding) I certainly won’t be telling them this.

Part of the problem is also that the letting agent is terrible, lies, and gives horrible advice to justify their own ineptitude. But that’s another story.

Is it possible that the required repair cant be done with a tenant in situ?

How would they know if they haven’t had anyone in to do a damp survey or evaluate the issue?

They explicitly said they don’t know what repairs are needed and won’t find out until after the tenancy has ended.

May be they want to sell without repairing, whatever the reason you should be safe for a year, which gives you breathing space

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True. And a tenant in who can point out there’s damp and mould won’t help sell.

Good to know about the breathing room, thank you.

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OK I’m a landlord here but am aware of life from both sides. Here’s my insight.

First of all an email advising they want to repossess it has no legal force. They need to issue a formal notice - either a “no fault” “no reason” section 23 notice - usually with an accelerated possession procedure
But they can’t do this if you have already made a valid complaint about them not taking reasonable actin to maintain the property to a safe standard.
But be aware - it is very common with structural damp issues not to cure the issue on the first repair - you would need solid evidence that the Landlord “cheaped out” if he did act and do something!
Curing damp issues is notoriously difficult for both landlords and homeowners and in the current labour shortage it is very hard to get decent builders or contractors. Landlord often have to decide between a fast response with a less reliable contractor or waiting a very long time (up to 6 months) for a reliable contractor to have availability
However the email stating his intention not to do repairs while you are in before giving formal notice may well give you a very strong case ! Make sure you have it saved and untampered with ! If it came through an email server make sure it remains there !
Thee is another issue you need to be aware of if the house was previously the landlords main residence and he went abroad to work he has a much stronger right to repossess it than if it was always a buy to let property
Ground 1 - Owner occupation
Two months’ notice of proceedings required.
There are two different situations where this ground could apply:

  • the landlord (or one of joint landlords) lived in the property as their only or principal home at some time before the start of the tenancy
  • the landlord requires it for themselves or for their spouse as an only or principal home, providing they have not purchased the house during the tenancy

There is no need for prior residence for the second part of the ground and there is no need for intended residence for the first part.

In one case, the courts found that prior oral, rather than written, notice was sufficient where the tenant was quite clear about the possibility of the landlord returning to live in the property.

So do check if the Landlord has a right to use these ground as it changes everything.

Finally a personal word of advice - all the signs are that rents will continue to rise. If you stay your landlord will raise your rent - if you move you wil be charged a higher rent (I can explain why but don’t want to detract from this post ) so though other rental properties might seem horrific right now delaying a move could well land you with an even higher rent. While it might feel like giving in looking round for another property with a better landlord might well be your best move.

Hope this stimulates you to consider some issues - but I am not a lawyer - and can’t give you real advise as to the legalities of this - just share my experience and research.

Hi Ryan ,

Landlords have a choice - they can issue a section 13 notice to the tenant (it is not filed with the court at this stage but which gives the tenant the right of appeal) Though the appeal must show the increase is above market rents being asked in the area for similar properties.

Or they can come to an informal agreement with the tenant - but if the tenant doesn’t agree they can just give 2 months notice using section 23.

So to be honest i think the section 13 notice is a bit kinder as everyone knows where they are and it protects the tenant right of appeal - so I like that as compared to a bit of a chat. But I do try to treat tenants with respect and charge a fair rent (usually a bit below market value for our area - as I like th loyalty and good relationships that creates. I’d rather have tenants that want to stay and like living there! )


all of this is uncertain ,so only if the landlord goes to court can there be a resolution and this in the current court system can take a year. This will still be a worry for ryan tho.

It’s poor etiquette to send a section 13 without a conversation first. The best way to maintain a good relationship with a tenant is to give them the chance to agree first and if they refuse - tell them that you’re filing a section 13.

The tenant is allowed to agree to the rent increase - and it’s also a good time for the tenant to make requests.

Filing a section 13 without warning is a crappy thing to do.

They’ve not lived in it as an adult. They inherited it from their father and there’s no evidence they no longer wish to live in America.

We aren’t averse to moving due to the cost of other rental properties. The rent here is above market value after the increase and we could get a nicer property for the same as what we’re paying now.

Moving is physically demanding and emotionally stressful. We’re two disabled adults with three special needs kids who have no family or support in the area. It’s not easy.

We don’t have a car at the moment - moved from abroad and the process to get a UK drivers license. Covid delayed the hell out of the process and despite starting it within two months of moving to the UK, the drivers test is still a month away.

It’ll be a lot easier to move once we can at minimum rent a car, if not own one.

It’ll also greatly open up our options of where we can move to because we won’t have to be in walking distance to amenities.

I don’t want to live here a minute longer than I have to - but I also can’t uproot ourselves for a temporary accommodation then move to a place that actually suits us.

I would love to be able to move out before November 1.

It’s not likely we’ll be able to.

I also expect the landlord I’ve been paying above market rent to to make the bloody repairs!

Update - Contacted the housing authority and have an inspection scheduled for Wednesday. I hadn’t expected it to be so fast.

They must be on speed .! That is fast.

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