Landlord witholding the key!

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    Just been hit with this scenario:

    Claimant has a tenancy agreement for her new accommodation which seems OK. However, she tells us that the Landlord will not let her have a key, or stay there during the day, until he knows that the Rent Officer’s decision is going to cover the full rent! He does let her in to sleep there at night but basically kicks her out each day…..

    I don’t think she can have a legally enforceable liability to pay rent in these circumstances. The landlord clearly does not intend to be bound by a tenancy agreement until it suits him. It also seems debatable to me if she can really be said to be occupying this accommodation as her normal home in these circumstances.

    What do people think? I’d be really grateful for your input.


    Ann, I would not agree with your conclusion. Firstly, liability to pay rent has little to do with antics by a landlord. Many HB claimants live in poor quality acommodation with limited rights. Secondly, it would depend on the type of contract between the parties. A type of licence arrangement allowing a person to occupy the property only at night is uncommon but not unique in my experience.

    The tenant might have an action against the denial of “quiet possession” but I am presuming she did not pay a deposit and is desperate.

    However, whether you should notify the RO of these “conditions” is a moot point since it would clearly impact on the valuation and could result in what the landlord is hoping will not happen!


    If an agreement has been entered into I am not sure what he thinks he is achieving by not letting her stay there in the daytime!

    I am not sure why you would think this is not her normal home; unless there is some other place she lives in I would have thought it has to be if she is sleeping there.

    I agree that there may be some doubt about her liability, but you have had a claim which you have a duty to determine, and as part of that you will be referring to the Rent Service, so the landlord will then have his answer one way or the other!

    On reflection, and having read Peter’s comments, I am not sure there is really such a big issue around liability. I would suggest putting the landlord’s behaviour to one side and just determine the claim. Would also advise the tenant to get some advice from your private sector housing people about her situation.


    Just a quickie but is it a resident landlord?


    No, Landlord is not resident.

    Thanks for your help, Guys, and I see I was thinking wrongly about this one. Really uncomfortable with what the Landlord is up to, though..


    Not sure you were thinking about it wrongly.

    Does the tenancy give exclusive occupation of the whole of the premesis? If so I not convinced the LL could charge rent on the back of the agreement.

    I know I read somewhere that immediate termination (of an agreement) [u:c5db98a579]must[/u:c5db98a579] occur if the LL repudiates the contract by breach i.e. it is not for the tenant to accept this to be the case or otherwise. But, two problems:

    a) I am not sure what happens afterwards.
    b) I cannot remember whether it was a decided case or on a consultation paper. (Sorry but my notes are a scrappy & the source is illegible and it could be either given the context)

    If you think your case may fit either post again or PM me and I will dig out the source.

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