Lodger moved out and refusing to cover money owed or damages caused

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    Lodger moved out and refusing to cover money owed or damages caused

    Hi All,

    Its my first time posting on these forums although I have been renting two rooms in my three-bedroom property for the last 5 years and have a couple of small 2 and 3 bed lets. I've thankfully never had any trouble with tenants so have not needed to request help until now. I'm really hoping someone can offer some advise on my issue. Thanks in advance.

    Over the last 5 years I have usually had tenancy agreements for the lodgers that I have had, however with the latest two lodgers I took in, I decided I would secure things with a tenancy agreement. I adopted the agreement I have used from one of my other buy-to-let properties so and had them both sign separate agreements.

    The agreements were 12 months fixed term. Rent is £450 and bills £125.

    One of the tenants has been fairly difficult to deal with. He was younger than my advert stated (25 and above), although he assured me that he was a very respectful and clean person who was easy to live with. So I decided to agree and let him move in.

    Since moving in I have had issues weekly that I have had to bring up to the group (both tenants), even when it has been obvious it has been the problematic tenant causing the issues, I have ensured I stayed neutral between the two. Some of the issues are below. Please note that my property was in impeccable condition prior to these tenants moving in, 4 years old and no damage anywhere.
    • Leaving all lights on in the apartment almost daily - meaning I was having to turn them off after him. Times I would come home late in an afternoon and find they'd been left on all day.
    • Repeatedly scratching the previously unmarked sink and glass cooker top (still unsure how this has been managed)
    • Overusing utilities (Water bill up 4x and electric bill up 50% compared to any previous readings in the 5 years of ownership)
    • Causing damage to hallway carpets by dragging airers through the carpet instead of picking them up to move them - resulting in torn carpet.
    • Breaking a clothes airer and instead of bringing it to my attention, simply putting it back in the cupboard for me to find and denying it happened.
    • Cutting on the new kitchen worktop without using a chopping board or plate resulting in knife marks in the kitchen worktop.
    • Leaving the front door unlocked several times even after I had repeatedly explained that the door needs to be secured for safety and insurance purposes
    • Not taking his turn to clean bathrooms / living space.
    • Not cleaning up after his day to day use of kitchen meaning myself or the other tenant had to clean up after him before I was able to use my own kitchen.
    • Badly chipping the oven door handle by dropping an item off the handle. Then flat out denying it happened even though I was stood right next to him when it happened.
    • Slamming doors all of the time and being overly noisy late at night.
    • Leaving heaters on all day and night - racking up an electricity bill of 50% more than I have ever had whilst living at the property.
    • Badly scratching glass dining table and marble coffee table
    • Mould growing in the silicone in the shared shower / bathroom due to not keeping it clean - this has happened in less than 4 months as the silicone was new when he moved in.

    Dealing with all of these issues each week, over such a short space of time (4 months) has been very frustrating. Watching my previously undamaged and relatively new property that I have spent a lot of money on, become damaged, through careless / thoughtless actions has also been frustrating. Having to have weekly conversations of complaints to lodgers when I have never previously had to do so was also stressful. Finding my bills have gone up severely during a period of time that I was on holiday and not even at the property was also annoying – especially after I had requested the tenants were more careful with leaving things on and their usage. Never the less, I have remained fair and calm, simply pointing out issues that have happened and asked for both tenants to be more careful – I have never singled out either tenant for an issue even when I have known the issue related to the troublesome tenant specifically due to his use of the property / through me seeing him cause the damage.

    Whilst on a work trip the tenant messaged asking to end the tenancy agreement early as it would be better for both of us, I agreed and said I need two months notice, so I will find a new tenant (at his cost) as soon as possible and once it has been sorted, he can move out. He just needed to cover the notice period of two months OR until I find a replacement tenant. I also stated we can have discussion on damages and come to an agreement on what, if any, damages need to be paid as well as the charge for finding the new tenant. He asked when I was returning and I told him Thurs, although it was actually returning late Weds evening.

    I arrived home late Weds evening (18th December) to find he has all of his belongings in my hallway packed up, looking to move out before I returned. I queried it and he stated he was going home to his families in Ireland and he figured it would be best to move out now to make it easier for me to do viewings etc as he would be away anyway. I re-iterated the need for him to cover the 2 month’s notice, to which he agreed. I went to bed and reiterated the conversation via message, but requesting that he paid it in advance before leaving as I was worried he was going to leave without paying as it was a little unorthodox for a tenant to move out before a new tenant had been found, particularly as I was offering to break the contract early to facilitate him leaving early. He responded stating he couldn’t afford to cover it upfront but did agree, in writing, to honour the agreement and that he would be paid next week so he would cover the rent as usual.

    The tenants rent date is the 28th of each month. So I waited until after New Year to check to see if payment had been made. On the 2ndJan I found the payment had not been made. I went to message him and found he had blocked my number on all platforms and found that he had sent me an email relating to the termination of his contract, primarily attempting to get out of it on a technicality with my decision not to protect his deposit in the DPS protection scheme (I have checked and found as a live in landlord I do not need to do this). Unfortunately for me I do state in the contracts that their deposits will be protected within this scheme. This is because the contract was a generic tenant contract, I use in another property that I rent out entirely to tenants and I did not remove this part of the agreement. (Please note that I do protect tenants deposits in rentals that I do not live at)

    The tenant in my opinion, should cover the 2 months’ notice period until I find a replacement tenant. I expect there to be additional costs of damage of around £1000+ for damages totalling up, however getting proof that he caused them all will be difficult without an in depth, signed, inventory – something I don’t have.

    I have now found a new tenant who will be moving in on 26th Jan. I still have the tenants full deposit (£450) as his email stated he would put this towards the costs involved. Unfortunately this doesnt cover the full extent of the costs.

    1) Rent and bills for 1 month = £575
    2) Outstanding TV License payments – £21.45 (as per contract)
    3) Advert for tenancy search - £25 (as per written agreement via WhatsApp)
    4) Replacement oven handle - £35 + fitting
    5) Upgraded broadband for remainder of contract @ £10 per month (Requested by the tenant due to complaints on internet speed - I now need to cover this cost for the remainder of the contract and feel that this should be covered by the tenant?).

    7) Increased water usage - TBC
    8) Increased electric usage - TBC

    Other costs that I feel I will find it difficult to prove with no inventory;

    - Damage to bedroom walls and repainting
    - Cleaning bedroom
    - Cleaning kitchen – in particular oven that had never been cleaned
    - Damage to the tops of both bed side drawers and chest of drawers in bedroom
    - Rips in hallway carpet
    - Multiple scratches to black electric cooker top
    - Multiple scratches and marks all the way round the sink
    - Multiple knife marks in kitchen work top from cutting without using a chopping board
    - Multiple scratches to glass dining table
    - Mould in corner of shower

    I would very much appreciate some advice on my next steps.
    1. Can I take the tenant to court to recoup the lost rent and bill money for 28th Dec to 28th Jan – up until the point I find a new tenant?
    2. Can I recoup the tenant finding fee and replacement oven handle - both of which I have written confirmation from the tenant that he would cover?
    3. Where can I stand on recouping damages that may be difficult to prove guilt for without a signed inventory – such as cooker / sink / mould in bathroom etc. If I can recoup the rent in 1), I could then keep a % of the deposit without any legal repercussions.
    4. Would it be possible to recoup some of the increased usage of utilities if I have bills to back up the huge increase of usage during his tenancy – even if divided it between 3, so he only had to pay an increased share of the usage?
    5. Can there be any legal repercussions from me saying I would put their deposits in the DPS, but then not doing so and also not informing them that they had not been put in the DPS?
    6. Will the fact my contracts were labelled as tenancy agreements and not lodger agreements be a hinderance to me trying to recoup costs?
    7. Are there any other costs / legal avenues I can proceed down to mitigate my losses?

    I feel I am going to be told the best course of action is to leave it as it is, take the hit and find a new tenant as soon as possible and ensure that correct agreements are written up going forward. Hopefully that won't be the case but I look forward to your response. I can attach a copy of the blank tenancy agreement if that would help.

    #2
    Can you prove the damage?

    If you gave them a Tenancy Agreement you should have protected the deposit. If you didn't, you should be grateful if he leaves and doesn't claim 3x deposit back.

    I'm about to take in a lodger and my lodgers agreement is very clearly not a Tenancy Agreement.

    Comment


      #3
      I'd be very glad to see the back of him and not spend any more time and effort trying to get the £. Annoying as it is, put it all behind you and find a new lodger.

      Put a bit in your TA asking for an address for correspondence should something happen to the T and for contact at the end of the tenancy, and for next of kin contact details (if different).

      Comment


        #4
        I only read a fraction of your essay but it was enough to see that you had made a number of mistakes, such as giving what I assume is an AST agreement to a lodger. Assuming other similar mistakes I think you should just be grateful he is moving out and cut your losses. Do things properly next time. Look at lodger websites for advice.

        Comment


          #5
          If this is the first idiot you have had after taking in lodgers for a while then i would say you have been lucky, i know of others who have had nightmares (which is why i will not do it), as said, count your lucky stars and move on.

          Comment

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