Left before the break-clause and now trying to solve all the problems?

by Readers Question

9:28 AM, 5th August 2015
About 3 years ago

Left before the break-clause and now trying to solve all the problems?

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Left before the break-clause and now trying to solve all the problems?

I signed a lease a couple of months ago for a property in London with my ex-partner, and after breaking up (which was essentially in the first week of moving in in the new flat – great timing I know). pickle

I contacted the landlord to let him know if I could move out as this place was now to big and too expensive for me to stay until the end of the break clause (6 months). The landlord was understandably upset, but after discussing the matter he said that if I agreed to pay for the agency fee from my deposit (6% of annual rent income) then he would ask the agency to put it back on the market.

I agreed to these terms (that was on the 2nd week of me being in that property) and after lots of issues with finding a new tenant (which in my opinion was due to the agency’s incompetence) one month and a half later he told me that it was in order and that we would do the inventory and I would give him the keys (that was 1 week and half ago).

When we met he told me that actually the new tenant would not move in the next day for some unknown reason so we agreed to a further haircut to my deposit and I went away (I paid 2 months deposit, and in total I verbally agreed to give up 43% of that).

I contacted the landlord one week after inquiring about my deposit and he told me that the new tenant still hadn’t moved in so that he would pay me the deposit when he did. And then he called me today asking me if there were issues with the boiler and the bathroom, implying I had done more damages than agreed on during the inventory check at the end, and that because of that the new tenant had to move out.

He was also complaining that I contacted all the institutions + council tax to tell them I left as of the date of my moving out as he now had to pay for it himself. Then we argued and he said that I would see him in court. Until that point I had a relatively cordial relationship with him and he seemed like a nice guy so I tried to defuse the situation and am waiting for him to get back to me in the next couple of days, and I am considering taking a bigger haircut just to make this thing go away, but in the event this does go to court I wanted your advice on the following points:

1)the whole thing has been handled in a very amateurial way, meaning we had to correct the contract several times before agreeing with the agency, and then when we moved in we did not do an inventory check. So on that point I think it would be really hard for him to prove in court I have done damages as essentially there is no document to prove the state of the apartment before and after my moving in (and in good faith I have done 0 damages…), or am I wrong here?

2) what I am most worried about is that somehow I end up liable for 4 more months of rent + charges because the break clause was 6 months and I don’t have a signed letter from him saying the agreement is off. What I do have is a couple of SMSs where he tells me that it’s all in order for a certain date and that we will do the inventory check + I’ll give him the keys on that date. That’s the date I moved out and I stopped paying council tax and other bills as of that date ( I contacted all the agencies saying that I moved out as of that date). Are the SMSs proof enough?

3) One thing that I find strange as well is that the deposit is supposed to be in a segregated account as per the contract (DPS; he just confirmed that by the phone today too), but he implied he’d send me money if / when this thing is settled, implying he can just take that money as he pleases. I feel that alone wouldn’t put him in very good standing in court?

I am still trying to solve that thing in a fair way out of court as I do understand that I am not meeting my end of the contract on the 6 month thing and I think it’s in my best interest to make this go away as fast as possible if just for my peace of mind, but I feel like I have been more than fair in that situation. The potential to lose more than my deposit on this thing too if it does go to court scares me as well. I have considered hiring a solicitor for advice but he told me it most likely wasn’t worth the cost (which is probably fair as 2 months of rent is less than 20 hours of services).

So I would really appreciate any advice on how to deal with this!

Denis



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:34 AM, 5th August 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Denis,

Sounds a bit of a messy situation on both sides with little or no paperwork. As my first boss told me if it isn’t written down it didn’t happen.

As you have not had the Prescribed Information I think it is quite likely the deposit taken from you was not protected.

This alone should encourage the Landlord to sort the situation out amicably with you.

Teg's Dad

13:33 PM, 5th August 2015
About 3 years ago

If there is no signed inventory he will not have a leg to stand on with the DPS. You can check if the deposit was held by them and, if it was, they will not release any of it to him without your consent or after arbitration/court action.

If, as Neil says, you have not received the Prescribed Information within 30 days of the deposit being received then perhaps you could suggest to your landlord that he Google the penalties. If he has any sense he would then back off rather quickly.

Michael Barnes

12:48 PM, 6th August 2015
About 3 years ago

If you did an inventory check on sign-out, then I presume you have a copy stating what the state of the property was, that you returned the keys, the date this occurred, and signed by the landlord or agent.

I would say that if you have that information, then it is sufficint to show that both you and the landlord agreed to end the tenancy agreement.

On that basis you are not liable for any costs after that date.

Regarding the deposit,

a) If the landlord used an insured scheme, then he keeps te deposit whilst you are a tenant, but must return to you the amount agreed.

b) if the landlord used the custodial scheme, then the landlord pays the deposit to the scheme and at the end of the tenancy, both you and the landlord need to agree with the scheme how much each should get. If it is agreed that a party should get some money, but the amount is disputed, then the scheme will return the undisputed amount and use the dispute resolution process for the disputed amount.

c) for each scheme there is a dispute resolution process, where tenant and landlord can put their case as to why they and not the other party are entitled to the money.

I suggest that you contact the DPS to find out about your deposit.
If they have it in either scheme, then start a claim for it to be repaid to you


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