Friday, 26 February 2010

Renewal Time (Again...)

I am being quieter than Little Miss Q Quiet of the Quietland Quiets (who has a GCSE in Being Really Quiet.) I do not make a sound. I am in hiding. I remain deathly pale so as to blend in with the brilliant paint on my walls. The fact is, I am playing a game of cat and mouse with my letting agents, and do not wish to draw attention to myself. Yes, it’s tenancy agreement renewal time, and I’m sort of hoping that my letting agents have forgotten that I live there.

I would like to stay where I am, but only if the rent remains the same. Given the low interest rates, a rent rise would be cheeky, but remember that my letting agents are cheeky bunch of …monkeys and I’m not sure where I stand. By the time you read this, I doubt I will have been given any notice to quit, or informed of any intended rent rise, for the simple reason that I suspect they’ve forgotten me. While sitting in the office under many baleful glances, I asked for a six month agreement – not their standard nine months, which was greeted with bafflement. I was feeling insecure when I met them, and having the endured the experiences I’ve written about previously hereabouts, I wanted any escape route to be within easy reach.

Mercifully, they usually leave me alone, but the downside means that this ‘solitude’ leaves me communing with all the things they’ve failed to do, like putting shelves in the bathroom, resealing the lounge window, apologising for allowing repair men to walk whenever they fancy a look etc, but on the whole, it’s the best I can expect (I suppose.)

It’s always the way with rental agreements – you never know what’s coming next, and tenants have very little control over their lives, but here’s a new twist: as pointed out by a commentator on this blog recently, Scotland enjoys a rule which means that if neither party contacts each other before the legal agreement ends, then the original agreement is repeated, and identical terms are applied. I hope this happens. I really do, and I’m worried that it won’t.

I still think that the best of all worlds would be an assumption that tenancies last for as long the tenant chooses, with a minimum of two years. There should be no eviction process started unless the landlord gives a genuine reason. ‘I felt like turfing that loser out because their mum dresses them funny’ is not a good reason. Neither is the strange urge landlords sometimes have to nurture and house their dear old mum, which sadly means they must give notice to their blameless tenants.

I shouldn’t have to worry every six months whether or not I can stay safely in my home. I want some security. If things remain as they are, I could genuinely be forced to move every six months - for various reasons it’s been that way for the past seven years (only once has the move been my own choice.) I resent feeling utterly and obviously powerless. It’s just that I’ve been here so many times before, and I’ve had enough – I really have.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I was renting with Jordan's (big letting agency in the north-west), they did things with respect to the end of the tenancy that I thought was unbelievable. They sent you a notice to quit the property within the first few weeks of your tenancy beginning, thus negating the need to bother with such things at the end of the tenancy period if anybody "forgot".

They really had it all down. They were such a big agency that everything they did was "right" even if it wasn't necessarily how you'd want to be treated, but damnit if they weren't a whole load of impersonal.

RenterGirl said...

Jordans, you say? Having spent some time in Manchester, I am familiar with their work. The S.21 abuse must be stopped - it's used against the spirit of the law to force desperate tenants into being given notice - usually after reassuring them that it's nothing, and that everybody signs, or that it's for their own protection. Thanks for reading.

Shoe said...

Isn't the flaw with the whole concept of the shorthold assured tenancy in that it only gives the tiniest bit of support to the tenant without giving them real options to stay long term or move at reasonable notice.

Here in Ireland we brought in a new law in 2004 which granted a "part 4" tenancy after just 6 months which effectively gives a tenant the right to remain for up to 4.5 years. The landlord is also supposed to only "review" (I love that word) the rent once every 12 months. (The tenant can refer an objection also to "above market" rents but I think this is meant to be a good laugh as "market" effectively means "charge what you feel its worth selling at").

The reality is that unless a tenant declares, in writing, using the correct language and format, that they wish to take up their rights, they don't really get them. The landlords as a result have been using 12 month leases followed by lease renewals in order to lock-in tenants and as a result a lot of the benefit of PRTB is lost for tenants. I've trying to find out what would happen if you declared a Part 4 tenancy before the landlord remembered you are still there. They can still slap a 25 page unfair lease on you.

Its worth reading here - http://www.prtb.ie
Such laws are useful, but one of the problems with this law is it still enables leases to be used to make it more difficult for tenants - to charge additional "fees and charges", and restrict notice periods or lock-in tenancy lengths, even though the law specifies that section 12/16 (which relate only to basic stuff) cannot be overruled by the terms of a lease.

RenterGirl said...

It is another constant course of joy isn't it? When will landlords realise that they make more money from a happy tenant who stays long term than a jumpy renter who will bail when things go wrong. And that will always do their best to wriggle out of anything that encourages security.

Steelo said...

Personally, i'd go for the longest rental period that is on offer.

You can always sublet or assign the tenancy. If your tenancy agreement has terms which say otherwise, they may constitute unfair terms, according to the OFT.

See Letlink guidance or OFT document.

RenterGirl said...

That's a good idea, except I wouldn't do that for the reason that I would then, I suspect be responsible for the subsequent tenant's behaviour, and I'd have to get insurance....and....and... I know I can give notice. I also know it will always get as ugly as the letting agent can contrive to make it.

Dave said...

I am going to have to move again in a month for the god know how many-nt time.

My agent did remember to contact me, they no only want to put my rent up. But want to charge me a maintainance fee of £150 per person.

They tell me that this is the cost of setting up a new contrct. I am sure that going into word chaning 2009 to 2010 and pressing print cant cost that much.

I had to contatc a credit refrance agency resently as my moving house so often as affeceted my credit rating. The guy said "I have never seen so many address in one report before" Well welcome to my life and the life of so many other tennants.

My very fav reason (there have been many) for being kicked out is this:- The landlord lives in a shead in a feild in summer and does art. But in winter the shead is too cold and he moves back into his home.

wow what a lovly tale, just wish you tell me that six months ago. Now I have to pay more agency fees, more removal fees and have to come up with an extrodinaly large amount of money (a months wages) to put down as a deposit at the new place while you keep hold of my current deposit for as long as you possible can.

Anonymous said...

Renter Girl...having got fed up of 8 moves in less than 3 years I managed to afford a big mortgage by getting a wreck of a house to live in which I did up on credit cards then rented rooms. I've never dreampt of charging renewal fees and my ideal tenant would stay for 10 years (sadly the longest so far is 6 years...). I've got rooms in S Manchester if anyone is interested.

I'm now working on a scheme to help tenants buy with no large deposit - part of rent does to deposit. I have flats and a 3 bed house in Salford, good transport links, shops etc, good for Uni or Hope hospital...just email rentals@atollproperties.com

Best Wishes

Damien Morrison said...

renter girl i know wot you mean and to the other commentors i know wot you meaqn also ,christ i,m just so tired of moveing,moveing,moveing ,being at the mercy of shyster lettings sgencys and them abuseing there power over me i am haveing to move yet again? i want somewheresafe to put roots down i realy do.some kind of law needs to be passed to protect people from these monsters.