With a new law coming into force on Tuesday, many tenants are facing the prospect of a legal battle to evict them from their properties.
But can they win?
Here are some of the key points you need to know about eviction lawyers.
What is a ‘vacancy’?
A vacancy occurs when the landlord wants to sell the property but cannot find a buyer.
In the case of a vacancy, the landlord can still be given the option to buy the property if they are still in a position to pay the deposit.
The law does not specify whether a vacancy can occur during a tenancy.
The vacancy is often triggered by the landlord having to pay a large deposit on a property they own or they simply being unable to sell at the right price.
What are the different types of eviction?
There are three main types of evictions that landlords can do under the new law.
There are a number of eviction options under the first type, which is known as ‘no-fault’ eviction.
This type of eviction means the tenant is entitled to receive back rent and other compensation.
In contrast, there are other types of evictions, which are known as a ‘fixed-term’ eviction, which means the eviction can only be ended if the tenant agrees to the terms of the rent.
The fixed-term eviction also means that if the landlord tries to stop the eviction by paying back the deposit or evicting the tenant, they could end up in court.
For example, if the tenancy ends at the end of the fixed-time eviction period, the tenant could be evicted without the tenant being given any notice at all.
What happens to the rent?
After the landlord pays the deposit, they have two options: either keep the property, or rent it back to the tenant.
The first option would allow the landlord to evict the tenant if they do not pay the rent in full within the time set by the tenancy agreement.
However, this would only be possible if the eviction is ‘fixed’.
The second option would be to make the property available to the tenants for the fixed term, but would have the effect of reducing the amount the landlord could pay the tenant back.
In addition, the second option has the effect that the landlord cannot evict the tenancy at all if the property is in the tenant’s possession and the tenant fails to pay rent on the property within the fixed period.
If a tenant refuses to pay their rent within the set period, they will be entitled to recover back rent.
How does the new eviction law affect me?
The eviction law only applies to those who live in rented premises that have a ‘conditional use’ licence and do not have a fixed-tenancy agreement with the landlord.
This means that the tenant can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board (L&T) for a ‘no liability’ tenancy, which could mean a rent refund.
The new law also applies to ‘special circumstances’, which means if the Landlords Board determines that a tenant is in a ‘special circumstance’ where they are not eligible to apply for a fixed tenancy, the Landholders Board can make an eviction order against them.
This could mean the landlord has the right to evict a tenant for not paying their rent for a period of up to one year.
This will only apply to a landlord who has a ‘Conditional Use’ licence, meaning they cannot have a tenancy that is ‘conditionally terminated’ by the owner, such as by an eviction.
How can I get a ‘fixer’s fee’ for my landlord?
A fixer’s fees are payments from a landlord to a tenant in order to help them pay for repairs and maintenance to the property.
A fixed-terms tenancy is one where the landlord does not own the property and does not have the power to stop a tenancy for a particular period.
This is the case if the ‘special’ circumstances apply.
A ‘no fixed-period’ tenancy is a fixed term tenancy that does not allow for a landlord-tenant relationship.
This can be because the owner has stopped using the property in the past, or because the landlord is in breach of their licence, for example because they have breached a condition.
The fixer fee is an additional amount that the Land Office (LOH) collects for every year that the property owner does not use the property for the purpose of maintaining it.
If the landlord did not receive a fixer fees payment for the first year, the LOH collects another payment to the landlord, which will be a percentage of the sum of the previous payment and the fixed sum.
In some cases, the fixer payment is not the only money the Loh collects for the duration of the tenancy.
This includes: rent payments to a non-occupancy deposit; a payment from a deposit for an ongoing period of use; and, where the tenancy is conditional, a payment for maintenance and repairs.
What if my landlord fails to keep the premises clean?
If a landlord has a fixed period, there is no need to worry about keeping the property