Tenant claiming £10k damages?

by Readers Question

8:49 AM, 18th February 2020
About 10 months ago

Tenant claiming £10k damages?

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Tenant claiming £10k damages?

Hi everyone, I’d appreciate any input that the members might have with my predicament. I am currently the defendant in a case that one of my tenants has brought through the small claims court. The tenant is claiming in excess of 10k against me and has listed the following reasons.

– The tenant paid a deposit at the commencement of the tenancy which was not placed in tenancy deposit scheme ect ect ect.
– A long list of repairs needed to the house have caused grief and disruption to the tenant and his son.

In response to the first point, the tenant did NOT pay a deposit or any other kind of fee at any point. The tenancy agreement clearly states that no deposit is payable and the tenant signed every page acknowledging this.

The second reason is more involved. At no point has the tenant reported any repairs directly to myself throughout the tenancy. The first point I was made aware that there was issues with the house was when the council wrote to me after carrying out an inspection to the property.

Upon receiving the informal notice from the council. I engaged local tradesmen to rectify every single issue. Some of the works carried out include, replacement of combi boiler, new flat roof to the extension, pest control visit from the local authority, full electrical report passing the property of as safe, numerous visits from my joinery contractor. I have receipts for every one of these repairs which run to over five thousand pounds.

The tenant has refused mediation and has even made fictitious accusations against the council’a Health and Safety officer. I am having difficulty getting any response out of the council now and my emails and letters are being ignored. I suspect that the council want no further involvement with the case now which does not help me as I’d like to have it in writing from them that the works have been carried out.

Any advice, suggestions or observations would be greatly appreciated.

Trapped Landlord


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Comments

Rob Crawford

9:04 AM, 18th February 2020
About 10 months ago

Please can you provide clarification. The deposit in the first instance: I assume the money taken from the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy was nothing more than a single period of rent, in advance. No other money (holding deposit or further advance) was taken. Is that correct? The list of work required is quite significant, was an inventory and condition report carried out and did this detail any of repairs required? Did you serve an EPC, valid gas safe cert, Govt's How to Rent Guide before the start of the tenancy?

Rob Crawford

9:17 AM, 18th February 2020
About 10 months ago

Make sure you get a completion certificate from the council. It's their process and it is included as a requirement once work is completed. If you are not getting any joy form a particular individual go over his head. It sounds like they are acting unprofessionally, simple matters such as explained should not phase them.

Trapped Landlord

10:20 AM, 18th February 2020
About 10 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 18/02/2020 - 09:04
The monthly rent is 420 pcm, and the tenancy stated that 2 months is payable upon moving in the property. I stress , the tenancy agreement states, ' No Deposit ' payable several times. The tenant paid 650 open moving in as he couldn't find the full 840 at the time. This was made up the following month as agreed. No inventory or conditioning report was carried out at the beginning of the tenancy. The tenant was very happy upon moving in. And yes, Epc , gas cert, how to rent guide were all served correctly and I have an acknowledgement page at the back of the tenancy stating this that the tenant signed. As I mentioned, I was only made aware that there were problems with the house once the council letter dropped through the door, at which point i was quick to rectify these with no expense spared. To be clear this was merely a letter , not an improvement notice.
Thanks

Chris @ Possession Friend

10:22 AM, 18th February 2020
About 10 months ago

We've had Landlords with this experience and you NEED professional help. A solicitor option is likely to be several £ k
PossessionFriend.uk
The trend for tenants brining action against landlords is an increasing one, sadly.

Adrian Matthews

10:50 AM, 18th February 2020
About 10 months ago

The maximum that can be claimed in the small claims court is £10k, so the tenant can't go that route if it's over that. If as you have said, you are covered with what you have done, my advice would be to contact your insurance company and let their legal team deal with it. It boils my blood to suggest this, but one way out could be to offer them a cash incentive to leave. It could be cheaper and quicker in the long run, even if it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

Elisabeth Beckett

11:06 AM, 18th February 2020
About 10 months ago

your tenant sounds like a bully who has had 'advice' from a 'legal' friend. You know that you have done all that has been asked and you have not had a deposit. This tenant is unlikely to take you to court as they would have to prove they had paid you a deposit (their signature on each page confirms they have not), as well as proof that they notified you of any repairs. Just issue them notice to leave as soon as you are legally allowed and get rid of them. Please do NOT, as some landlords do, provide a good reference for them to a new sucker to might house them. If the council are ignoring your correspondence you need to raise a complaint and escalate it. You have a right to have the property signed off.

Trapped Landlord

11:07 AM, 18th February 2020
About 10 months ago

Yes, the claim is for 10k plus 400 odd in court fees, I feel that I'm on pretty safe ground in that surely a landlord can only be expected to fix what has been reported.

Trapped Landlord

11:14 AM, 18th February 2020
About 10 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Elisabeth Beckett at 18/02/2020 - 11:06
I get the impression this is not his first try. But he is certainly pursuing this through court, the paper work is in front of me. He is well outside of the fixed term and ,yes, I served the section 21 last week. I don't think this could be deemed to be a retaliatory eviction because we never got as far as an improvement notice.

steve p

11:35 AM, 18th February 2020
About 10 months ago

I think with the abolition of S21 the number of chancers will be on the rise.. i only rent out family properties that are sort after. The returns are not anywhere near as good but I tend to get decent tenants and can turn down any tenants that are not ideal. I think the bottom end of the market and the poorest in society will suffer the most due to the governments changes and the rise in low life scum chancers. I wish you the best of luck, I think you will need to get a solicitor, maybe they can send this guy a strongly worded letter, something along the lines of "your case has no prospect of winning and if you proceed the landlord will pursue all costs against you." Unfortunately though in small claims courts the cost is minimal, it sounds like your tenant has kept it to £10k for this very reason.

H Priory Homes

11:47 AM, 18th February 2020
About 10 months ago

I had a similar case last year where the tenant claimed he paid a deposit, but the judge dismissed this because I stated in my contract about 5 times that no deposit was taken. My tenant came through the council so I got written confirmation from them to say that no deposit was paid as the council has to go through this when first setting up a claim.

I am expecting a lot more of these cases as my tenant got legal aid, and with the guidance of shelter they built a whole case of lies.

is the tenant still in the property? if they are then I suggest you offer them 2 months of rent to surrender the tenancy or make a settlement out of court because my solicitor fees went over £10,000 so you have to look what is the most cost-effective solution, no matter how right you think you are, it will still cost you £££ in court.

You seemed to be covered on the repairs as long as you have evidence of works being carried out which you have. My tenant was claiming for over £20,000 and it was settled out of court due to the extortionate costs that only the landlord has to fork out for.

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