Subletting with landlords blessing but now I am being sued?

by Readers Question

11:40 AM, 13th October 2015
About 3 years ago

Subletting with landlords blessing but now I am being sued?

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Subletting with landlords blessing but now I am being sued?

I was living in rented house for over 5 years with my brother and sister in law. About a year ago they have moved out so I decided to sublet my rooms to strangers. kit

My contract does not allow me to do it, but my private landlord knew about it, as this was the only way for me to pay all bills on time.

The Landlord had no problems with me for 5 years so he was accepting the current subletting situation (without any written changes to my contract). A couple who moved in as a subtenants became trouble makers and my landlord decided to give me section 21.

My landlord told me to move out and to get rid of those people (who had a baby in the mean time) but they went to Council for help to claim single mother’s status (no comment).

Together with landlord we were trying to finish it but the lady refused any help or to move out hoping to “overtake that house with Council’s help”. I have moved out according to received notice, but the lady with baby stayed behind.

I got advice from third solicitor that I have seen, to send keys to landlord with note that this is “terminating my tenancy on that property” According to that solicitor those subtenants were not mine, but landlord’s problem due to blessing from him, so they have effectively became his tenants not mine subtenants. Three months later I just got letter from my landlord asking me to cover £6000 bill (£2k legal cost, £4k for 3 months lost rent because that is how long it took him to regain property).

The solicitor that gave me previous advice is asking now for really silly money if I want to continue with them, but they were the only ones who told me that from moment of sending back keys I am not responsible for that property or people who “stayed behind” because that was with landlord’s blessing.

Is that the truth? Unfortunately I can’t confirm it anywhere and I am worried that this letter from landlord is a first step before taking me to Small Claim Court .

Is he right to ask me for that money, and if he take me to court what are the chances to win / lose it.

Many Thanks for any reply

Mike



Comments

Luke P

13:42 PM, 13th October 2015
About 3 years ago

I'd go to Court, representing myself and take my chances.

All the legal help in the world will all boil down to the same thing. The Judge's ruling on the day.

Judge's are usually accepting of a lay persons' ignorance of legal technicalities as long as you're telling it straight and can evidence your case.

If the landlord has made no alterations to the contract then it could be argued you did wrong by sub-letting, but if you can produce evidence to show the landlord had knowledge of the sub-tenants, then you will likley win.

Just my 0.02p

Graham Bowcock

13:44 PM, 13th October 2015
About 3 years ago

Dear Mike

I am sorry to hear about your situation. Given the amount of money involved I think you have no option but to get some sound legal advice from a solicitor who understands this area of law.

I can offer some comments as an experienced letting agent, landlord and chartered surveyor with some points to look out for.

I suspect, as is so often the case with issues on this forum, that not a lot of this is actually written down or documented, so you may have to contend your word against your landlord.

One issue which ought to be unquestionable is "who received the rent?" we have occasionally allowed our better tenants to take in lodgers but we do not want to know the details or get involved in anyway. If the lodger pays a licence fee (it's not really rent) that is between them and our tenant - not us. There is a doctrine of Privity of Contract which deals with parties to agreements being able to take action against each other.

If the "lodgers" paid you for being in the house then the bad news (in my view) is that they are your responsibility. Although you say the landlord accepted the other people in the house this is some way off him contracting with them as tenants.

If the tenancy was in your name only and the s21 was served on you then really you should have given vacant possession of the property when the notice expired. Although you have given your own key back you have not really given vacant possession, leaving others resident who were effectively under your control. It is not clear if a solicitor advised you to move out but if so this seems to be wrong to me, unless the other occupiers were actually tenant of your landlord and not your licensees.

On the question of licensees, if the others were your lodgers then they were only licensees and had no rights to stay in the property after you had given them reasonable notice to vacate; I understand that 28 days is considered reasonable. As it is your home I have also seen legal advice that says you may change the locks to prevent future access after the notice has expired.

If your landlord has incurred costs and lost rent then you may well be liable for them, hence the need for you to get some quick and good advise; if you approach him (after having some legal advice) then he may be prepared to negotiate for a lesser sum, particularly if you can't afford to pay him.

On a more positive note if the others in the house paid your landlord directly then they will more than likely have become his tenants so it would be up to him to deal with them.

Good luck,
Graham

Ian Narbeth

17:08 PM, 13th October 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Mike
I fear this one may be down to you. I think you need to get proper legal advice quickly.

The landlord may have turned a blind eye/given his blessing/done nothing about the subletting but that does not seem to be the problem here. The key sentence in your post is :" I moved out according to received notice, but the lady with baby stayed behind."

The landlord will argue that you failed to give vacant possession and basically left him with the problem of evicting someone he had not selected. The landlord may well have refused to accept rent from her (and was within his rights to do so) because he did not want her as his tenant, understandably. His argument will be that you should have got the subtenant out and that his losses flow from your failure to do so.

You may have had poor advice from the first solicitor but if it was after you moved out it may be hard to show you relied on it and suffered as a result. As mentioned, get proper advice and I am afraid you are likely to be out of pocket come what may.

rita chawla

21:24 PM, 13th October 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Mike, If the landlord didn't have any direct contact (agreement, rent transfer etc.) with the lady and she was your lodger, since it was your home at that time, you could have given her reasonable notice and then with the landlords permission, changed the locks. This is because she was your lodger and you were sharing the place with her. The landlord could not have done that (changed the locks without court order) as he/she was not a resident landlord. You were in a strong position back then. Instead you decided to leave without ensuring she has left. If I were the landlord, I would not be very pleased with what you did.

You should definitely seek some proper legal advice on this.

White Collar

10:51 AM, 14th October 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Mike

I have to echo most of the comments above.

I am happy to assist. As a legal practitioner (non-solicitor), my rates are much cheaper.

Phil

Andrew Holmes

8:42 AM, 17th October 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Mike,

You say your landlord "knew" about the sub letting. Did you have a conversation regarding this situation or was it just a case you assumed he knew.

If you can say in court without doubt and prove the landlord allowed this situation to proceed for a number of years the judge may consider the landlord has not managed the situation appropriately and as such should shoulder some of the blame.

If the landlord was excepting payment from the third parties with prior knowledge they need to take responsibility for allowing this situation to proceed until it broke down. Landlords have a responsibility to enforce T/A rules.

This is a situation created by both parties and as such both parties should meet the financial shortfall. Put into writing your concerns to the landlord and if common ground can be found between the both of you without the need of going to court and incurring extra charges.

Andy

Paul Franklin

10:23 AM, 19th October 2015
About 3 years ago

What you should have really done was evict your subtenant before moving out yourself. You wouldn't have needed a court order etc to do so as you would have been a resident landlord. You would have only needed to give reasonable notice before being able to change the locks when they are out. This would have ended everything nice and neatly.

However, you didnt, but the landlord has gone about this all pear shaped from what I can see. Where a tenant gives notice to quit, leaving an authorised licensee (authorised by the landlord) a court order is required to evict the former licensee only where the tenant was a secure or unprotected tenant (which your subtenant wouldn't be). The landlord may have peacefully evicted the subtenant once your notice to quit has expired. This is of course as long as your notice to quit was 'valid'.

If a landlord wants to reagin possession of a property they must obtain a possession order from the court on epiry of the notice they have served. However, if a tenant chooses to terminate a tenancy and then continues on, there is no need for the landlord to obtain a court order (unless theyre secure [council] tenants).

So it's my opinion that the landlord has taken unneccessarry action and incurred unneccessarry cost in resolving the situation which you therefore should not be liable for.

HOWEVER, thinking about this, the landlord has not given expressed permission (in writing) for this subtenant. Therefore it would be an argument that she is an unauthorised licensee. In those cases the above may still apply i.e. no court order needed to evict as she would not be a lawful occupier.

Sorry but as previous people have said this is a complicated area and you need some legal advice. Perhaps speak to CAB in first instance to see if they can point you in the right direction of more specialist advice?

Paul Franklin

10:32 AM, 19th October 2015
About 3 years ago

I'm sorry I've read this too quick - I see now that you recieved notice (s21), you didn't give notice....although the legal principals are still the same, to my knowledge no court order should be required to evict authorised or unauthorised licensees unless the tenant was a secure (council) tenant. If they were 'authorised' the landlord would need to give an 'old fashioned' notice to quit to end the contractual tenancy (as the s21 is for you not the subtenant). If not an authorised licensee then they are not a lawful occupier and no NTQ or court order is required once you've left.


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