© Merrily Harpur (merrilyharpur.co.uk)
Question: Having rented my flat for 17 months on an assured shorthold tenancy my landlord has now served me with a “Section 13” notice, bumping up my rent by 11 per cent.
I applied to the London rent assessment panel to set a fair rent and they said this “notice” was completed incorrectly and therefore invalid. After the hearing I tried to reach a compromise with my landlord, but with no luck.
Later that afternoon he phoned and said that a new Section 13 notice would not be served and I could either accept the new rent or be served a notice to quit. It feels like blackmail — what can I do?
Answer: As you have an assured shorthold tenancy and the fixed term has expired your landlord can at any time serve a Section 21 notice in the prescribed form to terminate your tenancy by giving you not less than two months’ notice, expiring on a last day of a period of the tenancy.
The landlord need not give any reason or prove any ground for possession. Your landlord can increase your rent if you agree or can serve a formal notice. If you do not accept a higher rent it is up to your landlord whether to serve a formal notice.
So, although it may seem morally wrong for your landlord to say you must agree to the rent increase or a notice to terminate will be served, it is entirely a matter for your landlord and there is nothing you can do apart from refuse to agree new rent. Then, if your landlord correctly serves notice to terminate, you will have to vacate.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP www.thrings.com.