0:03 AM, 2nd May 2023, About 7 months ago 10
Hello, I am writing to report a situation regarding the leasing of my flat in South West London. I enlisted the services of a small local agency and we eventually found a tenant, a Canadian citizen who visited the property with his girlfriend.
Despite my asking price of £1,825, he offered £1,850 and proposed a three-year contract, I wanted two, which I agreed to with a one-year breaking clause. He even offered to deposit more than what the agency had requested as he had recently sold his house.
Unfortunately, when the tenant was supposed to move in on March 31st, he refused to do so after claiming to have discovered new information regarding a £16.5 million funding issue for the building. Despite being previously informed and having already visited the property while it was still undergoing renovations (scaffoldings) he claimed to have found the information on a Facebook group.
He also alleged that his car was damaged when he attempted to park it outside the property. This led to a heated exchange between him and the agency, with him ultimately opting to stay in an Airbnb instead at £123/night. During the visit (him and his girlfriend), she said she lives 5-10 mins away, South West as well, It’s a Friday. My agency did not inform me that day.
During the weekend, I received three calls from the entry door to my flat, which I received on my phone as my number was still linked to the entry door. I thought he had invited friends to celebrate his move.
On April 4th, the tenant demanded the return of his deposit by 5 pm, with the threat of legal action if it was not met. On April 6th, he demanded the return of his deposit, the cost of his six-night Airbnb stay (£123 per night), damages to his car (£378), and removal expenses (£110). Furthermore, he threatened legal action to recover his losses as a result of the alleged professional negligence he had been subjected to throughout the leasing process.
During this time, I discovered that the set of keys to my flat’s master lock was missing (installed on my door). I also learned that all balconies in the building would have to be closed for nine months from early May, although I had initially believed that only the metallic parts of the building needed to be removed. I offered a £300 rent cut for the closing of the balcony. Otherwise the flat is in perfect condition. He refused and evoked his right to quiet enjoyment.
In light of these events, a few days ago, I have decided to break the contract and offer the tenant a Deed of Surrender along with a full refund, 100%.
However, the tenant has refused to sign the document unless I pay him £4,500 (AirBnB £3,400, car damage £500, solicitor £168, interest rate 8%…). Given he’s very generous, he offered to cut it to £2,400! Immediate refund or justice + he will keep adding new costs.
I have asked my agency for assistance but they have advised that it is solely a matter between the tenant and myself; and that they cannot market the flat or find a new tenant until the current tenant signs the Deed of Surrender. This has left me without any rent income and with ongoing financial obligations to the bank.
I have discussed this situation with three friends, two are landlords, and they believe that it is a scam (find a flat with scaffolding/cladding -> move to a AirBnB -> put pressure on the small agency/landlord) + that the agency is responsible for the current state of affairs. Despite my attempts to resolve the issue, the tenant has repeatedly asked for more compensation.
Has anyone experienced the same matter?
What are my options given he will never move in and he’s blocking the process?
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
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