Illegal Subletting

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    Illegal Subletting

    Hello,

    I moved into a house in August 2007 as a sublet. I didn't sign a contract and assumed everything was legal at the time. A few months later one of the housemates mentioned that the landlord didn't know I was living there and that it was in the contract that they mustn't sublet. I live with one other subletter and two guys who are actually on the tenancy agreement.

    I've fallen short of paying my rent this month by £100. I told this to the housemates who have the tenancy agreement as I usually send the money to them to pay to the landlord. I was told that they spoke to the landlord and he said it was unacceptable and I would need the full amount by this Friday. I told them that I couldn't do this. They supposedly phoned the landlord again who said it was ok as long as I make it up next month. I'm starting to think it's all a bit dodgy! Am I within my rights to just pay rent for this week and move out at the weekend?

    I also have paid a deposit of £500. I don't know whether the housemates actually gave this to the landlord, kept it seperately, or spent it. What are my rights in giving it back to me? I assume that at the very least I have a verbal contract with the housemates as they made it explicit that I would definitely get this back when I move out.

    Many thanks for your help/insight.

    #2
    Bit of a predicament this one but I'll advise you as best I can. Obviously the landlord was not aware of you living there but he is now so that's not too much of an issue anymore. Provided you can make up the rent next time round then you should be ok for the moment.

    But as you say it does sound a little dodgy, if it were me I woule be looking to seek clarification that everything is legit as far as you living there goes. So I woudl see if any form of a new contract to ensure your tenancy there isn't going to get you kicked out.

    If you did want to move out because you feel you'd be more secure elsewhere I'm sure you could do it with a day or a weeks notice at most, beaing in mind you haven't signed a contract. But that could also cause problems getting your deposit back. That's just my advise though

    Comment


      #3
      Graham,

      Thanks for advice. This is my problem. If I move out now I will be out of the situation but may have problems getting my deposit back. I wouldn't want to have to go through the courts etc but that may be the case. I pay all my rent through bank transfer so I can prove that I paid the deposit and that I lived there.

      I don't think the landlord knows I live there. The housemates just told him that the rent would be short this month which is why I think they're a bit angry at me.

      The tenancy is ending in April so there is no point in drawing up a new one just to cover a month.

      This is my first time renting so all of this is a bit scary really! I'm thankful I have my boyfriend that I can stay with for a couple of weeks if need be.

      Comment


        #4
        It sounds that you may only have 'lodger' status; as you are living with your landlords(the people who sublet to you) and sharing facilities. (If they were to lock you out for non payment of rent there is not much you could do as you do not have protection from evicition.)

        I wouldnt worry too much about your status with the owner LL, but I would worry about your deposit

        You would need to give the notice you verbally agreed with the "landlords" before you leave the tenancy or they can keep deposit to make up any shortfall. If you did not agree any notice or payment of rent then a months notice might be apropriate


        Now is the time to find out what has happened to your deposit, and how they intend to pay it to you back. Make sure you know where you can find them when the tenancy ends in case they do not pay it back to you. It could be they paid it to the tenant who you have replaced. Strictly speaking, the replaced tenant's own deposit may still be kept in a special government approved scheme that will be released back to the original tenants at the end of the tenancy, unless the LL needs to make some deductions for damage. Your "landlords" are not entitled to "swap" your money for the old tenants money; they hold your deposit and they are responsible for it. Their agreement with the property owner has nothing to do with you.


        Insist on this information before you pay anymore rent; or do not part with anymore money. Try to negotiate that they use your deposit for the last of the rent before the tenancy ends.

        Post back here what they tell you about your deposit.
        All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

        * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * *

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          #5
          What would happen if I withhold rent money and ask them about the deposit and then they kick me out? Every time I ask about my deposit I'm just told that I will definitely get it back but when I asked about taking the £100 from my deposit they said the landlord wouldn't do it.

          To be honest, I think they've tried to call my bluff by making it seem like I'd be kicked out if I didn't pay the full rent. And then when they saw I didn't have the money they've caved in. The ball is in my court now because they want me to stay as I help pay their rent and it would be hard for them to find another person quickly and for only another month.

          Is there a time limit for them to pay back my deposit? They've said that my deposit might be withheld because I pay my rent late etc. The truth is that I used to pay it on the last day of every month when I got paid and it went directly to his Barclays account. For the last few months he's changed the account to a Natwest one so it always takes 3 working days for the funds to clear.

          Even if it says that the deposit will be withheld for a variety of reasons in their tenancy agreement would this really affect me as a subletter? And I was told quite a few times that I'd definitely get my deposit back.

          Comment


            #6
            Deposit protection requirements do not apply to a lodger. The Housing Act 2004 is clearly limited in application; it affects only ASTs.
            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


              #7
              So I shouldn't have paid the deposit in the first place? There was a verbal agreement that this money would be paid back to me when I moved out though. Would this not be enough?

              It seems like I've paid for an old tenant's deposit and the other tenants can now keep this and get the original deposit back from the landlord!

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by roaneah View Post
                So I shouldn't have paid the deposit in the first place? There was a verbal agreement that this money would be paid back to me when I moved out though. Would this not be enough?
                The inapplicability of deposit protection did not mean that you should not have paid a deposit. However, why pay a deposit at all unless there is full written documentation showing:
                a. who now holds it;
                b. on what terms it is held;
                c. what is deductible (and when); and
                d. at what point it is repayable to you?
                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


                  #9
                  I suppose I didn't get written documentation because it's my first time and I was a bit naive. And the tenants needed the deposit to cover the last guy's deposit when he moved out, I suppose.

                  Would it be best to type out some sort of letter stating who has the deposit, when it will be repaid and how and get the "landlords" to sign it before I move out?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    They do not know what they are doing basically !!! And they are not being straight with you to cover their own impotence.They are under pressure to pay the rent now. Unfortuanately their heavy handed approach has understandably upset you.

                    I would think they need to get the deposit back from LL, to be able to pay you back, eventually. Cash flow.
                    That is why you need to know where to find them after the tenancy ends, so that if you claim back your deposit from them through courts, if necessary. Once you have the info you can pay them the rent and everyone is happy?
                    All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

                    * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * *

                    You can search the forums here:

                    Comment


                      #11
                      So if I were to move out at the weekend do you think I should with-hold rent and then tell them to take it out of the deposit before they return it to me? They're saying that if I pay rent late or miss payments then the owner landlord won't pay their deposits back which gives me less chance of getting mine back.

                      I know both of the tenant's work addresses. I'm not sure how to get more information from them without being confrontational.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by roaneah View Post
                        So if I were to move out at the weekend do you think I should with-hold rent and then tell them to take it out of the deposit before they return it to me? They're saying that if I pay rent late or miss payments then the owner landlord won't pay their deposits back which gives me less chance of getting mine back.

                        I know both of the tenant's work addresses. I'm not sure how to get more information from them without being confrontational.


                        Work addresses are good.

                        If you move out without the agreed notice, they would expect to keep the deposit to cover this notice. How much does the deposit cover? If it is one month, then i think you will be waiving goodbye to the lot. If thats Ok, then move out.
                        All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

                        * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * *

                        You can search the forums here:

                        Comment


                          #13
                          There was never any notice agreed in the first place so I don't think they can use it.

                          I could move out this weekend and not pay any rent and tell them to use the deposit to pay for that even though the owner landlord said he wouldn't do that (which they would probably get upset about). Or I could give them a week's notice so they can find someone else, pay them for the two weeks and then chase the deposit after I've moved (which they would be less upset about, I'm not guaranteed the money back but if I did get it back I'm losing less money). I'm just not sure what to do.

                          Perhaps I should give them the options and see what they would prefer to do? If I go for the latter I could get them to give me some sort of signed letter about the deposit.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            If you have paid any money directly to the landlord and he has accepted it then you will have established yourself as a tenant probably.
                            The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by roaneah View Post
                              There was never any notice agreed in the first place so I don't think they can use it.

                              I could move out this weekend and not pay any rent and tell them to use the deposit to pay for that even though the owner landlord said he wouldn't do that (which they would probably get upset about). Or I could give them a week's notice so they can find someone else, pay them for the two weeks and then chase the deposit after I've moved (which they would be less upset about, I'm not guaranteed the money back but if I did get it back I'm losing less money). I'm just not sure what to do.

                              Perhaps I should give them the options and see what they would prefer to do? If I go for the latter I could get them to give me some sort of signed letter about the deposit.
                              Its all very confusing. You don't know if your flatmates are being straight with you or where the deposit officially is.

                              By default; they are the masters of your deposit. If the lanldord had it you should have details of where it is protected; which is required by law. like Paul says,you would then have proper tenant status.

                              But from what you have said , it seems more likely you are their lodger, and the contract is between them and you and you pay them the rent before it goes to the ownerLL. The owner LL has nothing to do with it unless your deposit has been given direct to him, or you pay rent direct. Like I said before, they cannot "mentally swap" your deposit for the original tenants because it propabaly is still protected under his own name.

                              You may be correct that notice was never discussed. That is their own fault. But they hold the deposit and getting it or any balance of it back may require determination. Because you are bailing out with no notice they will not be thanking you.There may be a common law precedent which requires you to give the same amount of notice as to the fequency of your rent. If you pay weekly, give a weeks notice. Pay monthly, give a months notice, even if this was not actually agreed, it could be implied.

                              If you cannot bear to live with them anymore then move out and let them know what deposit you expect to be returned and then wait and see.
                              All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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                              You can search the forums here:

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