Landlord dispute - As guarantor I'm on the hook for missing payments

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    Landlord dispute - As guarantor I'm on the hook for missing payments

    Hi everyone,

    I'm hoping someone can provide me with some advice on the following. I'm acting as a guarantor for a friend who has been living in a flat that has turned out to be a bit of a hole. Based on the below I'm looking to understand whether I should just pay the missing rent and have done with the whole situation or whether I can contest the demand for payment. There is a bit of principle involved here, the flat is really bad and what the landlord has done to my friend and 11-year-old son is pretty disgraceful, but I'm not rich by any standards, so willing to accept I might not be able to afford my principles. Anyway......

    I received an initial email notifying me that my friend has not paid 3 month's rent (3 x £1100) and that if she does not do so the landlord will be looking to myself to cover this. I then last week received another email saying that my friend owes five months’ rent and that I need to cover £5500. My friend has been in the flat for just over 12 months. I signed up as a guarantor up until the middle of September, but I am being asked for rent into October. I have told the landlord that I will get back to her by the end of this coming week to confirm whether I would like to come to an agreement over the arrears.

    There are some complications around this

    1 - My friend was served a Section 21 to leave the flat (if I have it right, no section 8) and the date she was due to leave was mid December
    2 - My friend says that she never received a gas / electricity safety certificates when she moved in. I am in contact with the landlord as part of negotiations to pay the arrears and I have requested copies
    3 - Since January of this year my friend has had an ongoing argument with the landlord over a blocked sewage outlet and sewage backing up into her shower and flooding the bathroom with the accompanying smell
    4 - There was a leak from the flat above (also owned by the landlord) which had water pouring through the bathroom lighting (video available)
    5 - The electrics in the property are completely shot and since March (from memory), work has been done to try and rectify with at one point for a number of weeks an extension cable being fed from upstairs down to my friends flat and then multiple extension cables being run from that.
    - This has resulted in numerous electrical failures and the contents of the fridge / freezer being lost on several occasions
    - The wall sockets hanging loose (my friend has an 11 year old son)
    - Up until her eviction the house was still being powered by either two or three extension cables plugged into one another from a working wall socket
    6 – There was a radiator leaking and the landlord took five weeks to fix it initially blaming it on my friend, this has resulted in the son’s bed going mouldy and a number of his toys being ruined
    7 – Due to a rat infestation for a number of weeks my friend moved out (did not hand in notice) and refused to collect her possessions until the infestation had been dealt with.
    8 - The landlord has subsequently changed the locks on the doors and denied my friend access to the house on the grounds that she had abandoned the property (leaving all her possessions there) and since last Wednesday bagged all of her items up and placed them into a lockup garage (this is a kind description of the storage location, think abandoned cellar with open water outlets dripping down)
    9 – There has never been working fire alarms in the flat
    10 - As I understand it, legally there should be a deposit protection scheme in place, and from memory a couple of months back the landlord turned up at my friend's doorstep unannounced and tried to get her to sign a piece of paper which I think she said was something to do with a deposit scheme (I need to check back with her on this). Whatever it was I remember her saying she didn't sign it because she didn't understand it.
    I do have video / photographic evidence of all of the above, however it has to be said that I have poor documentation from my friend as to exact dates when things happened, she managed to lose her phone which held the conversations in the taxi during one of the many times she had to move out of the flat when it became too unpleasant (although I do have a few screenshots which she sent me at the time)

    I would like to know

    1 - Should I pay a negotiated lower payment that the landlord is indicating they would be willing to accept and then help my friend to pursue a compensation case
    2 - It has been suggested that I could get out of the contract because it becomes null and void if you are either coerced or in the case of fraud. Given that my friend is paid specifically by social services an amount for rent and they have not passed this on then this could be fraudulent. I hasten to add here that I have no wish to throw my friend under the bus, so would not want to do this if it had ramifications beyond nullifying the agreement I signed
    3 – Is there any other way I can get out of the contract

    Any advice would be much appreciated

    Gareth

    #2
    Kindly advise what "your friend" has done in reporting these (shall we just say) "extensive issues".
    My views are my own - you may not agree with them. I tend say things as I see them and I don't do "political correctness". Just because we may not agree you can still buy me a pint lol

    Comment


      #3
      Firstly, exactly why do you think you are guarantor please? What documents have you signed? Were they witnessed by someone independent? Were you given copies of tenancy agreement and guarantee before signing and advised to get legal advice? Has the tenancy been changed or renewed since you signed any guarantee?

      At this stage don't pay anything and don't agree to pay

      In fact probably don't communicate back to whoever is after your money.

      until a court order is given stating you have to pay you don't have to, but we don't want it getting that far.
      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by gnicholls View Post
        1 - Should I pay a negotiated lower payment that the landlord is indicating they would be willing to accept and then help my friend to pursue a compensation case
        Not at present.


        2 - It has been suggested that I could get out of the contract because it becomes null and void if you are either coerced or in the case of fraud. Given that my friend is paid specifically by social services an amount for rent and they have not passed this on then this could be fraudulent. I hasten to add here that I have no wish to throw my friend under the bus, so would not want to do this if it had ramifications beyond nullifying the agreement I signed
        EWhoever suggested that didn't go far enough.
        It is true that a contract can be set aside by a court because of fraud or coercion, but it doesn't happen automatically.
        Not paying rent while receiving money for rent from social services is not fraud.

        3 – Is there any other way I can get out of the contract
        Guarantor agreements are notoriously difficult to enforce in the face of an unwilling guarantor.
        See theartfullodger s questions for some indication of whether the agreement is likely to be enforceable.

        The fundamental issue is whether rent was due and whether it has been paid or not.
        All of the rest is academic to you as guarantor, the tenant's (horrible) experience is important when it comes to whether rent is due or not, but it's their fight not yours.
        Not paying rent is pretty much always a stupid move for a tenant.

        However, the landlord changing the locks and moving possessions into a lockup is a criminal offence and the tenant should be talking to the council.
        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


          #5
          Presumably your friend has carefully set aside the £5500 unpaid rent so you won't be on the hook for it if it is found to be legally owed. Perhaps they'll let you hold on to it until this is all sorted?

          Comment


            #6
            Its interesting that "Gareth" states "what the LL has done to my friend....is pretty disgraceful" - yet there is no disgust shared that his "friend" has failed to pay any rent.

            "Gareth" seems to know exactly what has happened to date yet not one single word against his "friend".

            I'm unsure if it's a rat I smell or a flying pig I've just witnessed.
            My views are my own - you may not agree with them. I tend say things as I see them and I don't do "political correctness". Just because we may not agree you can still buy me a pint lol

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by landlord-man View Post
              Kindly advise what "your friend" has done in reporting these (shall we just say) "extensive issues".
              As per the quote above...... there is no mention of what the '' friend '' has said to the LL about what appears to be a total dump, also what has your friend said to you about the financial burden now upon your shoulders ??? Are they going to pay you back ??

              The list of '' issues '' is massive and i cannot see why anyone would live in such a hole.

              Comment


                #8
                To response posted by theartfullodger
                Firstly, exactly why do you think you are guarantor please? What documents have you signed? Were they witnessed by someone independent? Were you given copies of tenancy agreement and guarantee before signing and advised to get legal advice? Has the tenancy been changed or renewed since you signed any guarantee?

                Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my post. I believe myself to be the guarantor because I signed an agreement on my mobile from a company called Arthur Online (https://www.arthuronline.co.uk/). A slim hope but they did spell my name incorrectly. The documents were not witnessed independently, I signed using my phone whilst waiting for fish and chips on a Friday evening. I did receive a copy of the Tenancy Agreement and guarantor agreement, which looks to be an all-in-one document. As far as tenancy changes go, the only possible thing I can think of was that when I agreed to be the guarantor, I requested that a six-month break clause was inserted. Because the property was so bad my friend tried to take advantage of the break clause and handed in her notice after six months which was accepted, however she has her son at a local school and was unable to find an affordable property close by and so asked to rescind her notice and this was accepted.

                Comment


                  #9
                  To response posted by jpkeates
                  However, the landlord changing the locks and moving possessions into a lockup is a criminal offence and the tenant should be talking to the council.

                  Hi, thank you very much for providing meaningful responses. Over and above my reply back to theartfullodger, the tenant has gone to the council and they have opened a case. Video and images have been provided to the case handler, but no response back as of yet (although they did say that they no longer do site visits). When my friend was evicted at approx. eight o’clock in the evening on Wednesday she contacted the council’s 24 hour emergency housing helpline, to find that it is only manned between 9-5. She got through to them on Thursday and they expressed concern and referred her to a solicitor, since Thursday she has been chasing the solicitor to get just an initial conversation. It appears very difficult to get official help

                  Comment


                    #10
                    To response posted by Hudson01
                    The list of '' issues '' is massive and i cannot see why anyone would live in such a hole.

                    Hi, thank you for taking an interest in my post. I agree it would on the face of it appear to be strange to stay in a place that is so poorly maintained, however my friend is on benefits, and I believe that after rent and water bills she has approximately £50 per week to feed, heat and clothe both herself and her son. She doesn’t have any money saved and she took the property because it both looked great and the landlord did not require 6 months’ rent upfront and was happy for her to move in straight away in time for the start of the school year. Only once she was in did things start to go wrong and then she was stuck, her son was in school, and she didn’t have the financial backing to find a new place that was both central and at the same price as well as being relaxed about upfront cash.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Two comments.

                      A guarantor agreement signed online, that isn’t a deed, should be almost impossible to enforce.

                      You can’t rescind notice as a tenant, so I’d suspect that the tenancy is no longer the original, which further weakens the guarantor agreement. The original tenancy should have ended when the tenant’s notice expires.
                      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


                        #12
                        Having gone through the AST I noticed that this section....

                        1.1.5 Managing agent The party responsible for managing the property shall be xxxxxxxxxxx, who the tenant shall contact for the purposes of arranging maintenance, providing notices, arranging extensions, and to make payment of rent.

                        From only a few weeks into the contract the landlord announced that she would be taking over management of the property, and the property management company listed in the AST were let go. All communication then went directly between my friend and the landlord. Would this have any material impact on the validity of the contract from my perspective? As an aside the landlord attempted to get the same management company back about a month ago, turned up one evening with them unannounced and they had a look over the property and then subsequently declined to take the property back on

                        Something that was also mentioned on another board was the following....

                        Always, notify the guarantors in writing as soon as you become aware of a problem with rent payments, damage to the property or any other breaches of the tenancy contract. If you don’t keep the guarantors informed, giving them the opportunity to put matters right at an early stage, this could jeopardise any legal claim you may subsequently bring.

                        If accurate, the above might be helpful, I received no formal notice that rent was in arrears until a few weeks back. Given that the claim is for the last 5 months of arrears then maybe some hope here.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          With friends like that you don't need enemies. She's scammed the tax payer - we have paid so that she isn't sleeping on the streets but instead of using it to pay rent she's presumably spent it on herself. Now she's stiffed you for it. Arthuronline seems to have good reviews so it's likely their agreements are watertight. Might be worth asking a housing solicitor, most will give you a free initial review. Does your friend have any of the money left?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by royw View Post
                            Arthuronline seems to have good reviews so it's likely their agreements are watertight.
                            You can't sign a deed online, and guarantor agreements aren't usually valid contracts (no payment), so that would be interesting.

                            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


                              #15
                              Originally posted by gnicholls View Post
                              To response posted by Hudson01
                              The list of '' issues '' is massive and i cannot see why anyone would live in such a hole.

                              Hi, thank you for taking an interest in my post. I agree it would on the face of it appear to be strange to stay in a place that is so poorly maintained, however my friend is on benefits, and I believe that after rent and water bills she has approximately £50 per week to feed, heat and clothe both herself and her son. She doesn’t have any money saved and she took the property because it both looked great and the landlord did not require 6 months’ rent upfront and was happy for her to move in straight away in time for the start of the school year. Only once she was in did things start to go wrong and then she was stuck, her son was in school, and she didn’t have the financial backing to find a new place that was both central and at the same price as well as being relaxed about upfront cash.
                              So AFTER rent etc she has £50 a week to live on - that's not a lot, but then it's not supposed to be or everyone would be doing it.

                              If she needed extra for food and heat, I'd have expected that she would at least have paid half the rent.

                              But NO, she's not paid anything.

                              The thing that make me laugh the most is that you say "she didn't have the financial backing to find a new place" - well she's managed to spend £5,500 of backing to date by not paying any rent.
                              My views are my own - you may not agree with them. I tend say things as I see them and I don't do "political correctness". Just because we may not agree you can still buy me a pint lol

                              Comment

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