Licence Agreement - Withholding Rent

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    Licence Agreement - Withholding Rent

    I am a student living in a 17 bedroomed house, there are houses either side of us making a total of 47 students in the enitre premises.
    We share common areas and as far as I can tell from the contract, only the rooms are private areas to us.
    The landlord does not live on-site. We have cleaning services 3 times a week and in addition to our rent we're being charged a 'service charge' for all repairs.
    Everybody is charged for the internet regardless of whether you have a PC (though not in the contract or on the website) and if there's a breakage in house A then houses B & C will still get their share of the bill. Literally all damages and bills are shared throughout 3 properties. As far as I can tell it is a licence agreement and this means they don't have to protect our deposit (which they haven't anyway).
    We have had many problems this year with management.
    The cleaner, also known as the 'property manager' (separate from Landlord) refuses to clean sometimes if it's 'too messy' (nothing extreme like bodily fluids) and she leaves an hour early almost every shift, which is a quarter of her shift. We are not entitled to reimbursements. The cleaning is minimal. The property manager enters some bedrooms without permission. They put up a notice on the board to say all viewings for next year commence on 8th December and that's the whole notice for the year, so sometimes we'll wake to a knock on the door and there's 6 students waiting to come in. That same property manager has been talking to some other students saying how if she loses her job then she knows where we live (non-term time addresses) and she's hinted physical violence but not said it, and everybody in the house knows it's aimed at me, because i'm the one who complains and she doesn't like me. She also said she can't wait to collect our census forms for information, I did it online though. This is isn't enough to go to the police though.

    Some repairs have taken months to happen. Next door has been without proper heating for months, one students room has developed mould and he's going to the doctor for breathing problems. A student in my house had a broken window latch during winter so she couldn't close her window and she filled in a 'report form' which was consequently binned by the property manager that does not like her, when the landlord was phoned 3 weeks later he said he didn't know about it and it was fixed, she had been relying on a hairdryer to keep the room warm. Many students had been waiting on matresses/beds for about 6 months. When the only oven in the 1 communal kitchen broke it took about 10 days to be replaced and some people lost food. Both washing machines and both driers between all students have been broken since August when we signed the contract, we got 1 washing machine replaced only a month ago.
    The landlord has switched off power without notice and a student lost some university work.
    The property manager throws out our things regularly; shampoo, toothbrushes, magazines, alcohol, food and has been known to throw away the odd shoe and then deny it. The landlord justifies it though by saying anything left in the common areas can be thrown. The property manage has been known to turn off freezers during summer when some students leave and some new ones come in, bad for students signing on for a second year with food in the freezer.

    We have complained about how unusable the internet is since August and they tried to put in an additional line in January and have charged us extra despite our signed petition to say we will not pay. The internet is still not good and waiting an hour for a webpage to load is normal. Not good for final year students.
    Whenever a student locks themselves out of their room the property manager is supposed to come and open the door for £20, she never does but gives out the code to the master key, then everybody knows the code for weeks until it's changed, then it happens again. People go into eachothers rooms for pranks

    We have to pay for washing tokens to use the broken washing machines from the property manager when she's on shift (remember she leaves early all the time) even though we pay for electricity and water on the machines. This was not advertised when we signed the contract.

    Whenever anything breaks we don't get any bills. I've seen the end-of-year report given to students last year and it says things like 'Invoice 1598 - £300' and we don't know what the bill is for.

    On top of everything the landlord and property manager are just rude. They leave rude notes and try to 'punish us' by not giving us washing token and such. The landlord told one students father that he must 'exercise discipline or they will run riot'. We are children to them and must be patronised. There is a complete lack of respect and they aren't afraid to break the rules.

    We've complained to the landlord about many things and even tried to have a chat about everything and he ignores some questions, he blindly defends the property manager.

    I have complained to Unipol/ANUK and they are currently in the process of reviewing the property, but it still doesn't help us when it comes to paying the bills at the end.
    The initial research i've done seems to tell me that because I have a licence agreement I have barely any rights and I have to swallow all of this and pay them all of the money, or I'll end up worse.

    I've written 5 separate petitions that are going round all 47 students, I currently have 130 signatures accross them all and I have about 10 more students to meet. The petitions cover the bad cleaning services, the master key, the internet, repairs and entering rooms.

    Now my question is do I have any rights here??? I cannot bare to pay them all the money and bow down because I am a helpless student with no rights.

    There was a house party recently and they are milking it for all it's worth, letters have been sent out to guarantors (and students) saying that there was excessive damage, lives were at risk and the police have been involved.
    This is massively exaggerated. 4 Fire extinguishers were let off and somebody wrote on the walls (I kicked him out) and some paintings were smashed. The party ended at 5am on a Sunday morning, management were round at 9am Sunday to take pictures of the place and milk it. If they hadn't come round until Monday as usual the only damages would have been extinguishers and damaged paintings, the rest of the house was cleaned and walls were washed. There's probably only £500 damage MAX split between all students, and almost all of that money is extinguishers, but I'll bet my ass that the bill will end up being thousands. I will not pay for a single thing until I have a full list of damages. So I'll pay any excess later.


    I was thinking about paying the rent, but withholding the charge for the internet and a quarter of the money that goes towards the cleaning (using last years end-of-year financial report) since she doesn't wor kfor a quarter of her shift. I was also going to deduct my deposit and tell them to keep mine, so they can't just take what I owe from my deposit.
    Please note that they never take any money from people's deposits like a normal landlord. They pay for all damages with the service charge paid for by all students (£17 per week each) and then the deposits are left unscathed. This is why we'll take the deposit amount off our bill, because all damages would come out of the service charge. This year because of this party it might be different though, they might touch the deposit.

    Am I setting myself up for a legal disaster? There may be a few of us all doing this together. Maybe as many as 10 people. Maybe only 2 of us.

    Any help is GREATLY appreciated. This is making my life very stressful right now.

    #2
    Way too long for a full reply; sorry.
    Why do you think that you have only a Licence?
    JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
    1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
    2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
    3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
    4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

    Comment


      #3
      You can't offer any advice?
      Even in bullet points?

      Well the contract says it's a licence agreement, plus they're so confident about it that they haven't protected our deposits and have admitted it.

      I also checked with Shelter England's Tenancy Checker

      When I check the box saying "I'm provided with services as part of my rent (Cleaning, provision of meals or laundry)" it immediately says i'm an excluded occupier with minimum rights.

      Comment


        #4
        Are you being provided with cleaning, laundry services or meals? From what I have read the property manager looks after the common areas of the property rather than your room?

        If you have a look at the paperwork that was signed by you and your guarantor it will tell you the form of agreement that is operating. Either an AST or license.

        Whilst the property manager is probably overzealous (assuming what you have said is correct) I can understand the landlords reaction after the all night party. A party of 47 tenants plus all their guests may have generated some complaints to the environmental health dept and police and has probably caused disturabance to other neighbours.

        What you are probably not aware is that the landlord has very strict property management regulations that will apply to a property used in this way (Sui Generis) and fire safety is pretty high up the agenda.

        In my own opinion I find your 'laissez faire' attitude of causing £500 worth of damage and not worrying about it really quite immature.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by robbo23 View Post
          If you have a look at the paperwork that was signed by you and your guarantor it will tell you the form of agreement that is operating. Either an AST or license.
          That could be very misleading. A 'Licence' can in law sometimes create a Letting Agreement (Tenancy).
          See Street v. Mountford re why/how.
          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
          3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
          4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by robbo23 View Post
            Are you being provided with cleaning, laundry services or meals? From what I have read the property manager looks after the common areas of the property rather than your room?

            If you have a look at the paperwork that was signed by you and your guarantor it will tell you the form of agreement that is operating. Either an AST or license.

            Whilst the property manager is probably overzealous (assuming what you have said is correct) I can understand the landlords reaction after the all night party. A party of 47 tenants plus all their guests may have generated some complaints to the environmental health dept and police and has probably caused disturabance to other neighbours.

            What you are probably not aware is that the landlord has very strict property management regulations that will apply to a property used in this way (Sui Generis) and fire safety is pretty high up the agenda.

            In my own opinion I find your 'laissez faire' attitude of causing £500 worth of damage and not worrying about it really quite immature.
            Immature because I'm not too worried about it? There's a new one. Do not assume my personality based on my feelings towards one event. I'm not very happy with the damages, I did not get involved with any of them and I was the only person at the party policing the place so don't assume i'm careless. £500 between 47 people is £10.60. It would be more immature if I worried about that amount.

            Yes we're being provided with cleaning, not in the room, but of the common areas. Well we're supposed to anyway. Now that it's half-term for students she hasn't even bothered coming in today, and i'm supposed to pay for that?

            I can understand the landlords being anxious about the party, but not everybody was involved and it shouldn't matter so long as they get their money for damages, which they will. My talk of withholding some rent does not extend to damages, if they can provide an accurate/fair list of the damages and their costs then I will happily pay, despite not having much to do with this party.

            Comment


              #7
              Agreed Jeremy, should have said told you what you have signed rather than what type of agreement is in force.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                That could be very misleading. A 'Licence' can in law sometimes create a Letting Agreement (Tenancy).
                See Street v. Mountford re why/how.
                I don't do law, so I can't argue here, but I will type up the beginning of the licence (after the page where it establishes the name/address of the licensee and guarantor.

                1.1 In this Licence Agreement unless the context otherwise requires the following expressions bear the meanings assigned to them as follows:-
                1.2 the Clauses and Clause Headings in this Licence Agreement are for ease of reference only and shall not be taken into account in the construction or interpretation of any covenant conditio or proviso to which they may refer.
                1.3 the Licensor means the estate owner of the reversion immediately expectant in the form hereby granted.
                1.4 the Licensee means the party named as the Licensee in the particulars and shall include successors in title and permitted assigns of the Licensee (if any).
                I don't really understand any of this but shows they believe it to be a licence. On the Front page it says Student Accommodation Licence Agreement.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I didn't assume anything about you, I just said it was immature (in my opinion) not to worry about causing £500 worth of damage.

                  Have you had a look at the paperwork that you signed? Is it an AST or license?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Please don't let the section about the party change any of the arguments, that was one event that I was barely a part of and does not justify anything else the landlord has done for the whole year. I want this thread to be about the bigger picture, which is the way we've been treated this year and whether or not I have any rights to refuse payment for some of the services we did not receive.

                    Also thankyou for helping me discover whether this is actually a licence agreement.
                    I can't afford a solicitor so this is really helpful.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Ah your post has just come through.

                      So the question is...

                      Is it a license or an AST. I suggest you contact Jeffrey as a private client. He can advise you of your position.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by robbo23 View Post
                        Ah your post has just come through.

                        So the question is...

                        Is it a license or an AST. I suggest you contact Jeffrey as a private client. He can advise you of your position.
                        I have scanned in the entire contract. I would be insanely grateful if somebody could please skim through it.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by robbo23 View Post
                          Agreed Jeremy, should have said told you what you have signed rather than what type of agreement is in force.
                          Jeremy? Who's that?
                          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                          3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                          4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                            Jeremy? Who's that?
                            Blame Robbo, I didn't get your name wrong

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by robbo23 View Post
                              Ah your post has just come through.

                              So the question is...

                              Is it a license or an AST. I suggest you contact Jeffrey as a private client. He can advise you of your position.
                              Do you have exclusive use of any areas?
                              How does your 'agreement' describe your room? (obviously, change identifying bits)

                              How does one see the agreement you have scanned?

                              Comment

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