Housing advice

Other reasons why you may have to leave your home

If you find that your housing situation has changed, or will be changing soon and you need advice from us, the first thing you need to do is complete an online housing options form at Sutton HomeChoice.

Once completed, your personal action plan will show you what you need to do to resolve your housing issue, including giving you contact details of council departments or external partners.  

The following are common reasons why your housing situation may be changing and you may need further advice:

Your relationship with your partner has broken down.

If you are living with your partner and your relationship has broken down, you need to know your housing rights.

This area of law is very complex, with your rights and options depending on a number of factors such as:

  • do you own or rent private or social housing? Do you own, or jointly own with your partner?

  • do you have any children living with you? If so, what are their ages?

  • was the property ever defined as the 'marital home'? (i.e. at any point in the past, did you live in the premises with your husband or wife, or civil partner?)

  • have there been incidents of domestic violence where injunctions were awarded?

If your name is not on the tenancy agreement (for a rented property), or the title deeds (for an owned property), you may not have any rights whatsoever to continue residing in the premises if your partner has asked you to leave.

However, if you are currently married to the owner or tenant of the premises, you may have what is referred to as "matrimonial rights" to continue occupying the property.

Additionally, if you are being asked to leave your premises; and have children with the tenant or owner, and are the main carer of the children, you may be able to submit an application to court to remain in the property for a period of time.

The fact that your relationship is breaking down does not necessarily mean the council will regard you as being homeless. The factors listed above would all contribute to a full assessment of what your housing rights are, and hence what housing options are open to you.

If you need further advice on your rights, you should seek independent legal advice from a solicitor specialising in this area of law.

Your landlord is trying to impose a rent increase?

If you are renting privately, your tenancy agreement will contain details about the rent have to pay and when these payments are due. There are very strict rules about rental increases, which prohibit a landlord from randomly increasing the rental payments.

The tenancy agreement will contain a "fixed term", i.e. the length of the contract, e.g. 6 months, 12 months etc. The rental level is fixed for this period. Moreover, when this fixed term expires, the same rental level will apply.

If your landlord wants to increase (or change) the rent level, they must do one of the following:

  • issue you a fresh tenancy agreement with the increased (changed) rent level, which you must sign, and thereby agree to. Please note that you are not obliged this new tenancy agreement. However, this may force the landlord to consider eviction. This new tenancy agreement, when signed by all parties, will replace the previous tenancy agreement

  • issue you with a S.13 rent increase proposal, as defined by the Housing Act 1988. After the expiry of the fixed term, your landlord could propose a rental increase by using a legally endorsed document. As the tenant, you would have the opportunity of accepting the rental increase, or if you disagree with the proposal, refer it to the Rent Assessment Committee (Part of the Residential Property Tribunal Service). They are a panel whose job it is to determine fair market rent. You need to be aware that they may determine that the rental value of the property is higher than that proposed by your landlord.

If your landlord has proposed an increase using a S.13 notice, and you disagree with the proposed increase, information on how to submit an application to determine a fair market rent can be found at the Ministry of Justice - Residential Property Tribunals.

If your landlord has proposed a rental increase by issuing you a fresh tenancy agreement, and you need advice on your entitlement to local housing allowance, please contact the housing benefit department on 020 8770 5000.

Local Housing Allowance

There are many changes to Local Housing Allowance coming into force in the coming months, some of which are likely to affect the majority of Local Housing Allowance claimants. You need to be fully aware of how these changes will affect you in your current tenancy, particularly where your landlord is proposing to increase the rental liability.

Is The Property In Disrepair?

If you are renting privately, your landlord is responsible for certain repairing obligations as set out in S.11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, as follows:

  • to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling, including drains, gutters and external pipes

  • to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling for the supply of water, gas, electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences) but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity, and

  • to keep in repair and proper working order the installation in the dwelling for space heating and heating water

Where a fault is detected, it is the responsibility of the tenant to inform the landlord of the disrepair. The landlord must also be given a reasonable period of time to correct the disrepair. 'Reasonable' in this context must take into account the nature of the disrepair, the impact this is having on the family, and the speed with which it could reasonably be expected of the landlord to correct the damage.

Certain types of disrepair render a property uninhabitable. In some cases, the council's environmental health department are able to carry out an inspection of your premises to determine what the causes of the disrepair are, and who is responsible for correcting the damage. Whether they would visit or not depends on the disrepair. Mould, for instance, is sometimes due to a structural defect in the property, and hence the landlord would be responsible (as per part (a) above). If, on the other hand, your mould problem is due to poor ventilation coupled with drying your clothing indoors, this is likely to be deemed as the tenant's responsibility to resolve.

If you feel that your landlord is ignoring their responsibilities with regard to the disrepair, and you feel you cannot continue to reside in your current property, please contact environmental health on 020 8770 5000.

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