Difficult lodger threatening to charge live-in landlord 4x deposit

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    Difficult lodger threatening to charge live-in landlord 4x deposit

    I don't think this has been asked before but apologies if it has. My lodger was very difficult to live with & finally moved out recently. He kept forgetting to provide me with his email address and I had forgotten to email him a copy of the contract. It was however signed by him & me, and a scanned copy was sitting on my desktop ready to email him whenever he provided his email address.

    He turned out to be difficult to live with and had emotional issues, so when he gave notice to move out it was a relief. He refused to pay the last week's rent, left his room in a state along with damaged items. On the up side, he finally gave me his email address. My response to this was to hire a cleaner, take the cleaner's fee and cost for replacing the damaged items out of his deposit (for which I provided photos & receipts). I also took the missing week's rent out of his deposit & sent him an email detailing these charges, asking him to reply with his bank statement or refute the charges along with his reasons. I also attached a copy of the contract and all the charges mentioned are in the contract for this exact situation. I also copied & pasted the relevant clauses to highlight it to him (e.g. room must be left in same state it was rented out in)

    However, since he moved out, he started spamming me with emotional & irrational sms texts, talking about negative feelings & various issues unrelated to the deposit deductions, one of which was that he didn't like the position of the radiator in his room & that it caused distress. I reminded him to reply to my email either agreeing to the costs or to reply with reasons why he thinks they shouldn't be deducted. I also reminded him to provide his bank details so the rest of the deposit could be returned.

    He ignored this reminder, still didn't provide his bank details or agree a figure & instead continued his barrage of emotional sms messages begging for the deposit back & threatened to report me to various authorities for non-return of the deposit. I replied to his texts, repeating the above & repeatedly asking for bank details. Still he didn't provide them. Still he continued complaining his deposit hadn't been returned & what an awful person I am.

    After a few days of this, it emerged he had called the council & that they advised him it's illegal for a landlord not to issue a copy of the contract during their stay & that as a lodger, he can now charge me 4x the deposit. I tried calling the council to clarify what they meant by this, but couldn't find a manned telephone number. I asked him for the contact details of the council he used, but naturally he never replied.

    Trying to maintain a conversation with him is nigh-on impossible because he doesn't respond to any questions you ask & ignores all statements you make- he simply responds in irrational emotion.

    So my question is:

    - is it true that he can claim 4x the deposit because a copy of the contract wasn't emailed to him at the start of him moving in, and was only sent after he moved out? (it is a default lodger contract I downloaded online, signed & dated by both parties)

    I have a few other time consuming things going on at the moment and with his precarious emotional state it's reaching a point where I'm afraid of him starting investigations against me that I don't have time to deal with right now, no matter how unfounded they might be. The mere fact he called the council is cause for alarm, because they won't realise his emotional state. I might just pay him all of it back & pay the cleaning & damage costs out of my own pocket. However, getting the bank details out of him is proving very difficult.

    #2
    No, it ain't true. You needed neither to provide a contract or protect deposit if he was living with you.

    I'd block his no. and move on.

    Comment


      #3
      If you can prove you were living there, and there is nothing else that makes him a non-lodger, let him sue you.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
        If you can prove you were living there, and there is nothing else that makes him a non-lodger, let him sue you.
        Whilst I'm certain he'd lose in court (given any reasonable judge), I simply don't have the time or energy to go to court given other things I'm facing at the moment, so it's not a route I'm interested in at the moment.

        Comment


          #5
          Whether he chooses to take legal action is not something you can control but given the information you give is correct he would lose. From what you say he is not in the right frame of mind to take action. Do you not have details of his account from rent payments? Can you send a cheque?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Jon66 View Post
            Whether he chooses to take legal action is not something you can control but given the information you give is correct he would lose. From what you say he is not in the right frame of mind to take action. Do you not have details of his account from rent payments? Can you send a cheque?
            He hasn't replied to any questions, whether that be for bank details, a tel number for the person who told him this 4x deposit rule, or a forwarding address, so I couldn't send a cheque either. I also don't have a cheque book since they were discontinued by most modern day banks quite a while ago. I have his rent in my account along with his name, but no bank details are shown. I also wouldn't feel comfortable simply reversing a payment in-part (assuming it's even possible) for fear that his bank details might have changed or something else I can't think of right now- everything is so unpredictable with him, given the way he's behaving I'd only feel comfortable with him confirming his bank details in writing for the money to go to so I can be rid of him.

            I plan to refund the entire thing and pay for all his damage myself, to avoid aggrevation. Whilst he isn't stable, I think he could still start pointless investigations that could have a meaningful impact on me, as I don't think his mental state would be obvious to anyone who only talks to him for a short period of time, (as it wasn't to me when I interviewed him before moving in).

            Whilst I keep things in one email subject line and asked him to do the same, he never keeps his replies in the same subject line, and as a result his replies are all in confused order across different electronic 'conversations', with sms thrown into the mix. The end result is that it would be almost impossible for any court hearing to sift through everything.

            I'm trying to think of a way to avoid all this in future short of stopping having any lodger- would using a deposit scheme alleviate this problem and the threat of reporting me for the sake of putting me through investigations? Many investigators are tenants/lodgers themselves and will assume with worst about landlords without ever speaking to them. A friend of mine was reported to trading standards by an ex-lodger, and this resulted in her being banned by well known room advertising websites (without any investigation or allowing her to speak). She asked for the reasons why and is met with silence.

            I fear that knowing how long deposit schemes can take, it might only aggrevate someone like him even further, particularly if they chose to deduct his money after I showed evidence?

            Comment


              #7
              You can't control what someone else does, and, if you're feeling stressed, I'd end further contact.
              Send the lodger a cheque for the amount you feel appropriate (if you have an address) or just ignore anything but bank details).

              Block their emails, phone number and move on.
              The council won't have given them the advice they claim (it's wrong and councils are pretty good at this) and move on.

              Don't get involved in the drama of someone who appears unwell.
              When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
              Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

              Comment


                #8
                Unless it is a requirement of a local landlord licensing scheme, there is no requirement for a written contract. However it is silly not to have one.

                If this turns out not to be a genuine lodger/excluded tenant case, and assuming that deposit breaches have only happened for one tenancy, the maximum is three times. You may have to pay four times, but the fourth tranche is an immediate return of the deposit, and you can still sue for any damage it would have covered.

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