Landlords Help Please – Court summons in 14 days

by Readers Question

15:46 PM, 1st October 2018
About 3 weeks ago

Landlords Help Please – Court summons in 14 days

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Landlords Help Please – Court summons in 14 days

Calling Landlords – I’ve had a County Court request come through today for one of our current tenants of which we had failed to insure their deposit. This was pure human error where my husband was admitted to hospital for a severe heart operation at only 44 years old literally just after she’d rented from us a separate house. Life was a whirlwind with 3 young kids, and yes this was totally overlooked.

We are hot on protection, but purely and unluckily this slipped through our net and it’s far too late, and the request for the penalty of 3x the deposit is being requested. The tenant had started failing to pay and pay her rent, and have gone off the rails with drugs. And now is after us for a claim.

I am after advice of anyone who has been taken to court, how much the court awarded? the full 3x? or did any one get 1x? Any tips for us for a counter claim?

Time is of the essence, because of the 14 day reply. Please don’t just reply to say we deserve it due to our failings, I’m totally aware of this, but sometimes we are humans, and this was human error. We have agreed payment options with this tenant and helped her in various ways, we always return deposits and are very fair landlords. Talk about it all being thrown in our face…. Any help on our side would be appreciated for our claim.

Thanks in advance.

Lou



Comments

Simon Hall

16:27 PM, 1st October 2018
About 3 weeks ago

Hi Lou, I am sorry to hear your dilemma. In my experience and knowledge maximum award of 3 X deposit penalty is awarded based on your culpability. For example, if you failed to protect deposit in its entirety and made no effort to protect then you could be liable to full 3 X penalty. However, you can mitigate your oversight by writing a letter of apology to tenant and immediately protect this deposit and serve all relevant paperwork. In addition, you could return whole deposit in full to the tenant which in itself is sufficient to reduce effects of culpability.

Please note, 30 days period is time limit to protect deposit however if you have failed to do so in time then you can protect and serve paperwork anytime. In such case penalty would be payable but at reduced rate.

Again by returning whole deposit it weakens your tenant's case and reduces your culpability in which case at judge's discretion it could go down 1 X deposit. Be aware that, you can not serve Section 21 Notice either unless you have fully protected deposit in time or you have fully returned deposit to the tenant. Although you can serve Section 21 but it will be an invalid notice.

LordOf TheManor

17:54 PM, 1st October 2018
About 3 weeks ago

Hi Lou

Sorry to hear of your predicament. What I would do is ensure you have some evidence of YOUR situation to demonstrate that you are not just coming up with any old excuse!

Dig out the hospital letter or get a copy from the GP. The aim is to prove that this a genuine oversight on your part. For good measure, if you have a print out of your deposit returns history include that too. You need to make yourself credible and it needs evidence, not just your verbal say so, for things to go well for you. Keep it concise, don't make a list of endless other things..... stick to the unexpected medical issue that took you off your usual course.

Submit the information with your counterclaim. You can redact i.e. use black pen to make unreadable excessive or unnecessary medical detail in the letter, as long as the person named in it could still be identified as your husband. Make sure the date is part of the inclusion.

Admit that you missed the date but that it was all down to the circumstances. As long as you can evidence it, throw yourself at the judge's mercy and hope for an humanitarian response. I'm of the opinion a judge would take this into consideration because..... it worked for me back in 2014.

Good luck!

Lord.

david porter

10:00 AM, 2nd October 2018
About 2 weeks ago

pick up phone
ring your lawyer
get them to sort it out
admit error
and cite heart attack.
Pay bill

Rod

10:13 AM, 2nd October 2018
About 2 weeks ago

If the worst happens - perhaps you could take a leaf out of a tenants book and simply 'don't pay' as many seem to get away with it!

Adrian Jones

10:16 AM, 2nd October 2018
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Rod at 02/10/2018 - 10:13
No chance of getting away with it if you're a working, law abiding tax payer!

Charles Anderson

10:17 AM, 2nd October 2018
About 2 weeks ago

Hi there

Really good advice by some already, ie provide evidence of mitigation to show its a genuine oversight.

Also, don’t forget to counterclaim for the rent arrears and any damage if there is any!..

Hmmm , and consider whether you really want them as your tenant !

Julie

10:28 AM, 2nd October 2018
About 2 weeks ago

Hi Lou,

So sorry to hear about your predicament. I totally understand what you're going through. How is your husband? I do hope he's ok. The most important thing here is that he's not stressed over this and is in healthy recovery.

Yes, we all make mistakes occasionally and life certainly isn't 'fair'. I too have been in a similar situation whereby I thought my ex-husband had protected the deposit and he thought I had done it! Neither of us had! After renting out properties for 14 years, it was the first DPC that I had missed... and guess what? That particular tenant made me pay for it, even though he was in 3 months rent arrears and was threatening me with court action.

I decided to give him the amount he was due and asked him to leave. It basically meant I was three months rent out of pocket and learned a BIG lesson!

Plus my professional career is in lettings! So I had NO excuse at all.

With regards to getting new tenants, I would always suggest having a UK based, home-owning Guarantor.

Hope this 'sort of' helps
Julie

ahloughlin@gmail.com

10:31 AM, 2nd October 2018
About 2 weeks ago

The very reason I take no deposits, system is broken and totally against landlord.

Julie

10:33 AM, 2nd October 2018
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by at 02/10/2018 - 10:31
I agree. I am contemplating not taking deposits in the future. A UK Guarantor is much better!

Simon M

11:02 AM, 2nd October 2018
About 2 weeks ago

In addition to the hospital letter, a statement showing the dates each previous tenancy started and date the deposit was protected would demonstrate to the court that this was a genuine exception.

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