Tenant claiming £10k damages?

Tenant claiming £10k damages?

by Readers Question

Guest Author

8:49 AM, 18th February 2020, About 4 years ago 75

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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

Ian Narbeth

10:04 AM, 19th February 2020, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Uxucvhrtau at 18/02/2020 - 19:37
Sorry, Uxucvhrtau (wherever does that name come from?), but as countless litigants have found, they have lots to worry about if they are sued. (You later say that whoever wins, both parties will be losers which is a contradiction.) You may be well versed in English law - I pass no judgment - but it is not a good idea to try to "get well versed in part 27 of the small claims procedure and protocol" on your own case if this is the first time you are sued.

As I have argued in my earlier posts, Trapped Landlord is probably in the wrong regarding the disguised deposit, a point you have overlooked.

As the adage goes, the man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client.

Trapped Landlord

10:48 AM, 19th February 2020, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 19/02/2020 - 09:52
This is how the tenancy reads under the rent heading -

-The Rent shall be £. per month, payable 2 months in advance.
-The first payment of £. being due on or prior to the date of taking possession.
-Thereafter the “Rent Due Date” will be the. day of each month during the Term of this agreement.

I think it may hinge on the second payment which was made on the second month. Ideally, looking back this should/ could have been made at the beginning of the 3rd month. The tenancy does state that the rent should be payable to months in advance however so I will have to see what my solicitor says tomorrow.

Ian Narbeth

11:10 AM, 19th February 2020, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Trapped Landlord at 19/02/2020 - 10:48
Glad to learn you are seeing your solicitor. Even if the deposit point is arguable, bear in mind that if it goes against you, you may be worse off for having stuck to your guns. You should also review with your solicitor whether you have breached other legislation, e.g. regarding gas safety certificates or the Tenant Fees Act. If you have then the Tenant may threaten to or actually set the Council on you with the risk of massive fines, to soften you up.

Good luck!

AA

13:06 PM, 19th February 2020, About 4 years ago

Perhaps the lease should have read " first and last months rent payable before entry" - that's pretty clear cut.

AA

13:39 PM, 19th February 2020, About 4 years ago

Actually the more I think about it the more ludicrous it seems. Rent could be argued to be used to pay for damages a tenant may inflict on a property. Any monies retained or charged in lieu of such an incident or event would be " disguised" deposit by sentiment expressed so far. Should we be protecting part of our rent?

AA

13:56 PM, 19th February 2020, About 4 years ago

What about "first months rent £840 followed by a rent of £420 pcm". Is this a disguised deposit.?
The terms " disguised deposit" refers to acronyms like "holding bond" " or placement charge" or something more creative. Rent is rent - absolutely ludicrous to suggest if it is agreed between 2 parties the arrangement and in this instance the tenant wants to maintain a comfortable credit position - one party has broken some law.

Ian Narbeth

14:04 PM, 19th February 2020, About 4 years ago

Sorry AA but just calling something rent does not mean the courts see it that way. In the same way calling an agreement (whereby A allows B to occupy A's property in exchange for a fee) a licence does not mean it is not a lease. Please don't describe my comments as ludicrous without good reason. The law that the OP may have broken is the requirement to protect the deposit with an approved scheme and to serve a Prescribed Information form.

Look at it another way. If Trapped Landlord's arrangement works then landlords can drive a coach and horses through the deposit protection legislation simply by asking for two months' rent in advance. Good luck trying that out in court!

Ian Cognito

14:16 PM, 19th February 2020, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by AA at 19/02/2020 - 13:06
Clear cut, but still a deposit in all but name!

See the Tenant Fees Act 2019: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tenant-fees-act-2019-guidance page 5.

If a term within the lease/contract/agreement contravenes legislation, it will not be enforceable.

AA

15:02 PM, 19th February 2020, About 4 years ago

Okay I stand corrected - apologies to both Ian's. Front loading is not allowed as OP has accidentally walked into. P26 point 3 of Permitted Payments does allow for rent payment upfront. Is the " first and last month" scenario void?

Chris @ Possession Friend

15:11 PM, 19th February 2020, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by AA at 19/02/2020 - 15:02
Nothing wrong in asking for first two months to be paid in advance. Make it clear in AST and the date the next rent is due. and state what the deposit is, in addition ( i.e 5 weeks rent ? ) in the AST.
The TFB does not affect advance rent ( at least not in all circumstances. - just have to be clear about it )

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