Dispute with L: deposit unprotected, no HMO reg., etc.

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  • Dispute with L: deposit unprotected, no HMO reg., etc.

    Hi All,

    I hope you can offer some advice for a student renting property from a problem landlord. I have tried to work with him as reasonably as I can, but feel that further action may be warranted. I would like some advice as to my rights as a tenant.

    I am a tenant in a shared accommodation with six people. We jointly have an assured short-hold tenancy for a 9 moth period which started towards the end of last year, and ends in two months. We have multiple problems with our landlord, and I would like advice on five primary issues:

    1. That our tenancy deposits were not protected for a significant period.

    2. That our property was not and is not HMO licensed.

    3. That the landlord intends to perform significant works on the property during the tenancy.

    4. That one of the tenants is late on rent, and the landlord intends to take action against all guarantors.

    5. The landlord is making nuisance claims about the tidiness of the property.

    ---

    1. That our tenancy deposits were not protected for a significant period.

    Our property was previously managed by a letting agent. At the beginning of this year, the landlord removed control of the property from the agent, intending to manage it himself. At this time at the request of the landlord, the letting agent transferred our deposits out of their deposit protection scheme and in to the landlord's personal account. Since this time we have made repeated requests for information as to where our deposits are protected, and the landlord has made a raft of excuses (including being busy, on holiday, not having the money, that he requires a house inspection first, that a tenant is late on rent therefore he cannot protect the money). Finally, last weak I informed him of my intention to contact the council to reclaim the money. The following day he had protected the money.

    Whilst the money is now protected, is is nearly three months since he was transferred the money, and getting it protected has been a significant hassle. Despite being protected, I assume we can still make a claim as subsequently protecting the money should not mitigate his responsibilities to protect the money within 14 days. Am I correct in this assumption?
    Is there a time limit on such proceedings? I am very busy currently, and would prefer to commence proceedings next month.

    2. That our property was not and is not HMO licensed.

    Our property was rented with the landlord aware that he was not HMO licensed. Though he now claims otherwise, he was aware of what he was legally required to do. The council has now visited and required him to make certain changes to the property to become compliant and obtain a license (notably being to introduce fire doors).

    Whilst the council may be able to force him to perform such works, are we as tenants forced to let him in to the property to perform those works?
    If the required works are a significant obstruction to us as tenants (we all live and study here, and do not want strangers in the house), are we entitled to request compensation for the inconvenience?
    Whilst the council has given him a time limit to complete the works, are we as tenants able to make a claim for past rent as the property was rented illegally without an HMO license?

    3. That the landlord intends to perform significant works on the property during the tenancy.

    The property has an attached garage that leads from our private drive to the kitchen. We do not have access to the garage, and the landlord stores some of his belongings there. At our discretion in the past we have allowed the landlord access to remove some of these belongings. At the beginning of our tenancy the garage door was partially damaged in an attempted break in.

    The landlord has now let slip that as part of the works he will be doing for the HMO licensing, he plans to convert the garage in to a seventh bedroom. He considers this a repair. We have told him we will not be granting permission for such works, and that any works falling outside of the HMO requirements will be denied. We do not believe converting a garage in to a bedroom to be an essential repair, and thus do not believe we must grant him access.

    Are we correct in our beliefs that the landlord may not commence significant works on the property during our tenancy?
    Under what grounds can we deny access to the landlord if he wishes to perform such works?
    If the landlord does enter the property without permission, how can we remove him? Police? Council?

    4. That one of the tenants is late on rent, and the landlord intends to take action against all guarantors.

    One of the tenants is approximately 1.5 months late on rent. They have been late before, and have made as many payments as they are able. Currently they are applying for housing benefit. The landlord has been very obstructive in this regard, including informing the tenant that they were not applicable for housing benefit, and refusing to provide a duplicate of the tenancy agreement when asked.

    The landlord has now threatened to contact all six guarantors for the property, unless we 'compromise' on letting him in to do the HMO works and additional garage work.

    Under what circumstances can the landlord contact guarantors?
    Is there a minimum amount of rent due for him to be able to contact them?
    Is he able to contact guarantors if previously the deposits were not protected?
    Is he able to contact guarantors if the property is not HMO licenced as it should be?

    5. The landlord is making nuisance claims about the tidiness of the property.

    When visited by the council, they requested he clean up the garden twice a year as part of his requirements for an HMO license. The landlord has disregarded this, and has asked us to do the garden as we agreed at the start of the tenancy (although our agreement is not specifically stated in the tenancy agreement).

    If the council requires him to do the garden work to get the HMO license, am I correct in thinking he cannot attempt to force us to do it? He claims he does not care what the council requires, as he expects us to do it.

    He has also stated that he expects the windows to be cleaned regularly. I am taking this as a nuisance request to attempt to find fault with us as tenants and force his way in to do the additional building works. He has stated that if we let him do the additional building works, he will 'compromise' on his requirement for the windows to be cleaned regularly.

    We are certainly not trying to dodge our responsibilities as tenants to keep the property in good order, but with a very large garden with large 9ft+ hedge, if the landlord is required to maintain it, we would certainly prefer it. Is this position legally correct?

    I would understand that we are responsible to return the property in a similar condition to that in which we started the tenancy. Our inventory (compiled by a third party, but unsigned by both parties unfortunately) lists the entire house as unclean and un-swept. It lists the garden as generally unkept, and the windows as dirty. Thus whilst we will devour to clean the property before leaving, am I correct in thinking that the inventory could act as evidence that the property was not in a clean and tidy state when we started the tenancy?

    ---

    Thank you for any advice you can give. We have aimed to be reasonable and tidy tenants, and have worked with the landlord as best we can. However, his prolonged delay in securing our deposits, and insistence that he has the right to enter the property to perform upgrade works has led us to look for advice.

    Regards,

  • #2
    Can anyone help me? The landlord keeps threatening to begin works, and I'd just as soon know where I stand as to refusing him entry.

    Thanks

    Comment


    • #3
      SEe notes in red


      Originally posted by RedStudent View Post



      1. That our tenancy deposits were not protected for a significant period.

      Our property was previously managed by a letting agent. At the beginning of this year, the landlord removed control of the property from the agent, intending to manage it himself. At this time at the request of the landlord, the letting agent transferred our deposits out of their deposit protection scheme and in to the landlord's personal account. Since this time we have made repeated requests for information as to where our deposits are protected, and the landlord has made a raft of excuses (including being busy, on holiday, not having the money, that he requires a house inspection first, that a tenant is late on rent therefore he cannot protect the money). Finally, last weak I informed him of my intention to contact the council to reclaim the money. The following day he had protected the money.

      Whilst the money is now protected, is is nearly three months since he was transferred the money, and getting it protected has been a significant hassle. Despite being protected, I assume we can still make a claim as subsequently protecting the money should not mitigate his responsibilities to protect the money within 14 days. Am I correct in this assumption?
      Is there a time limit on such proceedings? I am very busy currently, and would prefer to commence proceedings next month.BEST TO DO THIS WHILE YOU ARE STILL A TENANT. SEE OTHER FORUM POSTS ON TDS. DO A FORUM SEARCH

      2. That our property was not and is not HMO licensed.

      Our property was rented with the landlord aware that he was not HMO licensed. Though he now claims otherwise, he was aware of what he was legally required to do. The council has now visited and required him to make certain changes to the property to become compliant and obtain a license (notably being to introduce fire doors).

      Whilst the council may be able to force him to perform such works, are we as tenants forced to let him in to the property to perform those works?
      If the required works are a significant obstruction to us as tenants (we all live and study here, and do not want strangers in the house), are we entitled to request compensation for the inconvenience?
      Whilst the council has given him a time limit to complete the works, are we as tenants able to make a claim for past rent as the property was rented illegally without an HMO license? YOU COULD CLAIM COMPENSATION FOR INCONVIENCE

      3. That the landlord intends to perform significant works on the property during the tenancy.

      The property has an attached garage that leads from our private drive to the kitchen. We do not have access to the garage, and the landlord stores some of his belongings there. At our discretion in the past we have allowed the landlord access to remove some of these belongings. At the beginning of our tenancy the garage door was partially damaged in an attempted break in.

      The landlord has now let slip that as part of the works he will be doing for the HMO licensing, he plans to convert the garage in to a seventh bedroom. He considers this a repair. We have told him we will not be granting permission for such works, and that any works falling outside of the HMO requirements will be denied. We do not believe converting a garage in to a bedroom to be an essential repair, and thus do not believe we must grant him access.

      Are we correct in our beliefs that the landlord may not commence significant works on the property during our tenancy?He must have your permission to enter. Make it clear that you withdraw any access rights granted in the AST, and he must give you 24 hours notice in writing AND gain your consent before access is allowed, and the purpose of access
      Under what grounds can we deny access to the landlord if he wishes to perform such works? Without your permission he is trespassing (criminal offence) and denying you 'Quiet enjoyment' (contractual right), and also breaching the Protection from Evcition Act 1977 as this is harrassment.
      If the landlord does enter the property without permission, how can we remove him? Police? Council?Complain to your tenancy relations officer in the local council. Change the locks.

      4. That one of the tenants is late on rent, and the landlord intends to take action against all guarantors.

      One of the tenants is approximately 1.5 months late on rent. They have been late before, and have made as many payments as they are able. Currently they are applying for housing benefit. The landlord has been very obstructive in this regard, including informing the tenant that they were not applicable for housing benefit, and refusing to provide a duplicate of the tenancy agreement when asked.Where is your tenancy agreement? If you do not have an agreement, it is likely he cannot lawfully demand rent.

      The landlord has now threatened to contact all six guarantors for the property, unless we 'compromise' on letting him in to do the HMO works and additional garage work. If you are jointly and severally liable, you should club together to pay the rent and claim it back off the offender

      Under what circumstances can the landlord contact guarantors? Read your garantours agreement. It is only valid if the garantours read the AST agreement before they signed the Guarantors agreement
      Is there a minimum amount of rent due for him to be able to contact them?
      Is he able to contact guarantors if previously the deposits were not protected?
      Is he able to contact guarantors if the property is not HMO licenced as it should be?

      5. The landlord is making nuisance claims about the tidiness of the property.

      When visited by the council, they requested he clean up the garden twice a year as part of his requirements for an HMO license. The landlord has disregarded this, and has asked us to do the garden as we agreed at the start of the tenancy (although our agreement is not specifically stated in the tenancy agreement).

      If the council requires him to do the garden work to get the HMO license, am I correct in thinking he cannot attempt to force us to do it? He claims he does not care what the council requires, as he expects us to do it. If the garden is part of the AST or was implied it was yours exclusively, you should keep it tidy.

      He has also stated that he expects the windows to be cleaned regularly. I am taking this as a nuisance request to attempt to find fault with us as tenants and force his way in to do the additional building works. He has stated that if we let him do the additional building works, he will 'compromise' on his requirement for the windows to be cleaned regularly. Irrelevant how you clean the property. It must be in same cleanliness when you leave as when you started (on the schedule of condition)

      We are certainly not trying to dodge our responsibilities as tenants to keep the property in good order, but with a very large garden with large 9ft+ hedge, if the landlord is required to maintain it, we would certainly prefer it. Is this position legally correct?

      I would understand that we are responsible to return the property in a similar condition to that in which we started the tenancy. Our inventory (compiled by a third party, but unsigned by both parties unfortunately) lists the entire house as unclean and un-swept. It lists the garden as generally unkept, and the windows as dirty. Thus whilst we will devour to clean the property before leaving, am I correct in thinking that the inventory could act as evidence that the property was not in a clean and tidy state when we started the tenancy?Yes

      ---

      Thank you for any advice you can give. We have aimed to be reasonable and tidy tenants, and have worked with the landlord as best we can. However, his prolonged delay in securing our deposits, and insistence that he has the right to enter the property to perform upgrade works has led us to look for advice.

      Regards,
      All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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      Comment


      • #4
        Your problem landlord

        Dear RedStudent,
        as you are a student - why not contact your University Advice Service regarding this matter. That is what they are there for! They will be able to give you up to date, impartial advice specific to your circumstances, as you will be able to give them more detailed information than you can on a forum.

        Good luck!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by BLUE MOON View Post
          as you will be able to give them more detailed information than you can on a forum.
          Don't encourage him to write anymore! Thought the post was long enough as it is !!

          Good point. Also Shelter is a good place for advice.
          All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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          Comment


          • #6
            I feel I have to take issue with 2 points in Bel's red notes.

            1) Trespass is not a criminal offence

            2) I doubt that entering simply to undertake works would be an offence under the PEA 1977 because it seems there is no intention on behalf of the LL to cause the tenant to give up possession. Therefore, there the prosecution would not be able to prove the mens rea of the offence.

            The tenant's remedies are damages for trespass and/or an injunction. Self-help by way of changing the locks would also do just as well
            Health Warning


            I try my best to be accurate, but please bear in mind that some posts are written in a matter of seconds and often cannot be edited later on.

            All information contained in my posts is given without any assumption of responsibility on my part. This means that if you rely on my advice but it turns out to be wrong and you suffer losses (of any kind) as a result, then you cannot sue me.

            Comment


            • #7
              if the inventory has not been signed by either party i doubt it would stand up in court if he tries to with-hold the deposit on damage grounds.

              but, i concur with the advice above re - clubbing together and paying the back rent - your student claiming HB will be able to pay it back to you if s/he is successful in their claim.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by agent46 View Post
                I feel I have to take issue with 2 points in Bel's red notes.

                1) Trespass is not a criminal offence

                2) I doubt that entering simply to undertake works would be an offence under the PEA 1977 because it seems there is no intention on behalf of the LL to cause the tenant to give up possession. Therefore, there the prosecution would not be able to prove the mens rea of the offence.

                The tenant's remedies are damages for trespass and/or an injunction. Self-help by way of changing the locks would also do just as well
                1) Correct, but it can be criminal if assault or breach of the peace takes place at the same time, eg landlord pushes tenant to get out of way. LL forcing new lock open could be breaking and entering.

                2) From what I have read of the act, the intention does not just have to do with wanting to make the tenant leave, but also harrassment which results in the rights of the tenant being ignored, which is what happens when the LL enters without consent, especially if T forbids LL to enter in advance before landlord attempts to enter.
                All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bel View Post
                  1) Correct, but it can be criminal if assault or breach of the peace takes place at the same time, eg landlord pushes tenant to get out of way. LL forcing new lock open could be breaking and entering.

                  2) From what I have read of the act, the intention does not just have to do with wanting to make the tenant leave, but also harrassment which results in the rights of the tenant being ignored, which is what happens when the LL enters without consent, especially if T forbids LL to enter in advance before landlord attempts to enter.

                  1) I think you're being a tad hypothetical - of course it can be criminal if the LL assaults the tenant in the course of a trespass, but in that case, the prosecution wouldn't summons or indict the LL for "trespass" as that is not an offence known the criminal law. The charge would be anything ranging from common assault up to GBH, or even possibly "burglary".

                  2) You're overzealously interpreting the Act. Remember that the PEA 1977 is a criminal statute, the penalty for breach of which could be imprisonment. The law does not generally send people to prison lightly and certainly not without the prosecution having to prove some form of mental element within the offence. In short, the PEA 1977 is not concerned with the rights of tenants "being ignored" by an ignorant LL, it is concerned with evictions without due process of law and harassment of tenants with intent to dissuade them from exercising rights against the LL.

                  Here are the relevant sections of the Act

                  s.1

                  (3) If any person with intent to cause the residential occupier of any premises -

                  (a) to give up the occupation of the premises or any part thereof; or

                  (b) to refrain from exercising any right or pursuing any remedy in respect of the premises or part thereof;


                  does acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household, or persistently withdraws or withholds services reasonably required for the occupation of the premises as a residence he shall be guilty of an offence.

                  (3A) Subject to subsection (3B) below, the landlord of a residential occupier or an agent of the landlord shall be guilty of an offence if -

                  (a) he does act likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household, or

                  (b) he persistently withdraws or withholds services reasonably required for the occupation of the premises in question as a residence,

                  and (in either case) he knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that the conduct is likely to cause the residential occupier to give up the occupation of the whole or part of the premises or to refrain from exercising any right or pursuing any remedy in respect of the whole or part of the premises.

                  (3B) A person shall not be guilty of an offence under subsection (3A) above if he proves that he had reasonable grounds for doing the acts or withdrawing or withholding the services in question.
                  Health Warning


                  I try my best to be accurate, but please bear in mind that some posts are written in a matter of seconds and often cannot be edited later on.

                  All information contained in my posts is given without any assumption of responsibility on my part. This means that if you rely on my advice but it turns out to be wrong and you suffer losses (of any kind) as a result, then you cannot sue me.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think a tenant is entitled to use whatever back-up he can from the law in dealing with an ignorant LL.

                    It's likely this will not end up in court; no burden of proof will be needed as to any intention by the LL.

                    We look to law and hopefully act accordingly.

                    Once we have been alerted we no longer have an excuse to follow a similar course of action. I think that the OP can draw the LL's attention to the Protection from Eviction Act, Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as well as 'quiet enjoyment' in the contract and civil trespass, to help show him the error of his ways.
                    All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bel View Post
                      I think a tenant is entitled to use whatever back-up he can from the law in dealing with an ignorant LL.
                      Well firstly, misleading someone or issuing threats deliberately based on a misstatement of the law would be acting in extremely bad faith indeed.

                      Secondly, if the LL takes legal advice on the matter it would lead to a huge loss of credibility (and thus loss of tactical advantage) on the tenants' part if the LL's solicitor writes back to them, stating, in effect "You lot don't what you're talking about, now sling your collective hook."


                      Originally posted by Bel View Post
                      It's likely this will not end up in court; no burden of proof will be needed as to any intention by the LL.
                      And if there would be no chance ofthe prosecution establishing the requisite intention (which is itself a constituent of the offence) what on earth would be the point of threatening to report him? That is what's known as an empty threat and tactically that is worse than making no threats at all (see the second of my points above).
                      Health Warning


                      I try my best to be accurate, but please bear in mind that some posts are written in a matter of seconds and often cannot be edited later on.

                      All information contained in my posts is given without any assumption of responsibility on my part. This means that if you rely on my advice but it turns out to be wrong and you suffer losses (of any kind) as a result, then you cannot sue me.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Either you are just enjoying the argument or there is a flaw in communication. I would never suggest that any one is deliberately misleading or untruthful, or coniving on any account for the reasons you have stated.


                        I dont have a problem with my interpretation ie The Protection from Eviction Act supports the stance of the tenant regarding persistant entry against the wishes of the tenant (and I am not the first person on the forum to have suggested this, but that of course is not a convincing argument on its own)

                        You disagree. Thats your right. I have no problem with that either.

                        In the legal profession, sides will often disagree. And both think they are right. Sometimes it is shades of grey.

                        Let the OP choose. He should of course, do his own homework so that he understands what he relies on.
                        All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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

                        You can search the forums here:

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bel View Post
                          Either you are just enjoying the argument
                          Who me?


                          Originally posted by Bel View Post
                          Let the OP choose.
                          Which is exactly why I pointed out the flaws in your analysis ie: so the OP doesn't go in all guns blazing, threatening all kinds of bloodcurdling threats, only to have the legs kicked from under his argument by the LL's solicitor. That would just make him look like a bit of a wally.
                          Health Warning


                          I try my best to be accurate, but please bear in mind that some posts are written in a matter of seconds and often cannot be edited later on.

                          All information contained in my posts is given without any assumption of responsibility on my part. This means that if you rely on my advice but it turns out to be wrong and you suffer losses (of any kind) as a result, then you cannot sue me.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            hey guys.

                            Thanks for the advice and comments.

                            I had a long chat with the local council HMO compliance officer. Thankfully she was most understanding and seems very willing to work with us. She has since contacted the landlord and 'warned' him. I understand that he has been asked to stop bothering us and to postpone all planned works until the tenancy is completed. The council woman was shocked that he planned to enter the property to conduct major building works without consent.

                            As to the original queries...

                            I am seriously considering a claim for TDS, but will start this some time next month.

                            We do of course have a tenancy agreement, and I have since sourced a copy.

                            Tidiness - I'm guessing the landlord will kick up a fuss here. Whilst he 'insists' the entire garden is our responsibility (including 9ft high hedges), the HMO compliance officer was very clear that he is expected to do it twice a year. Perhaps the solution is to ask the council to require him to do it shortly before our tenancy expires. That way when leaving the garden would be in good condition and he could not complain.

                            ---

                            Since making this thread, I've read on the forum about landlords being responsible for council tax in HMO properties. We have one housemate who is liable (part time student), and I wonder if this would mean the landlord should be paying the council tax. Whilst we are not HMO licensed, we are certainly a HMO property. If he is liable, does our tenancy agreement stating that 'tenants are responsible for council tax' get overridden?

                            Thanks for all the advice,

                            Red

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              is it illegal to sublet a property

                              i have rent a 3 bedroom property under my compay name for three years, because the financial reason, we have sublet the propety without landlord permission. Is it illegal? Thanks

                              Comment

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