Cancelling contract before move in date, lodger taking me to court

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    Cancelling contract before move in date, lodger taking me to court

    Hi everyone,

    Recently I signed a contract with a potential lodger, with a move-in date of July 1st.

    The contract was signed on the 14th of June, with the deposit paid. I cancelled the contract on the 22nd of June and returned the deposit on the same evening.

    The lodger in question has now served me a letter of action, stating she is claiming compensation of a month's rent, due to my breaching the contract. The contract did state that we each had to give the other a month's notice to void the contract.

    Having read up on some background regarding excluded occupiers, I am only required to give 'reasonable notice', with this being based on the rental payment period (1 month) and duration of how long the lodger has lived in the property (currently 0 days). I feel that giving notice on the 22nd of June is reasonable, as her move-in date was on the 1st of July (10 calendar days later). I understand typically a month is given, so that you literally aren't throwing someone out on the streets, however, I am neither evicting her nor asking her to vacate the room - as she has yet to move in - I am simply denying her entry in the first place.

    The reason for me to cancel the contract is that there has been a dispute prior to her moving in. She has requested to adopt a kitten about 2 weeks after her move-in date, I have told her through texts that I don't wish to allow that on the property, due to potential damage to the house. However, she has fought me hard on this, continually asking if there is any way to work around it (even insisting on keeping her kitten trapped in her room so that it doesn't damage the house, however, I am sure a kitten would damage her room if it was to be left unattended while she is at work (6-8 hours a day). Furthermore, she specified an untrained kitten. This also gave me serious pause at the time, because I feel this is quite cruel (to keep an animal locked in a small double room all day), and I am a large supporter of animal welfare.
    After this chat, I told her I feel she should seek lodging elsewhere, and I didn't feel comfortable inviting her into my property due to this serious disagreement (she would not accept no for an answer). I felt that even if she moved in without the cat, she would seriously resent me for not letting her adopt the kitten, and while she may or may not do anything malicious, I wouldn't feel comfortable living in the same house as her (none of the rooms, including my own, have locks). This is what led me to cancel the contract.

    As far as I know, the compensation scheme in small courts is to return the affected to their monetary position (it is not to punish the defendant), as if there was never a breach. However I have returned her the deposit and have not taken any other money from her, therefore I feel she is in the same position as prior to my 'breach'. She is claiming the month's rent figure (over £600), for trouble and distress. I am not sure how she has come to this figure and how it is quantified.

    I feel the law should protect me in this instance, as I don't believe it would force a live-in-landlord to invite a hostile guest into their home. However, I am wondering if anyone has had an experience similar to this, as I cannot find anything online, even after trawling for hours.

    If I can provide any further information, I am happy to.

    Best,

    Zyphi


    #2
    I'm not sure I agree with you that there has been no breach of contract. You signed a contract with this woman for her to move into your property 1st July and then unilaterally decided to tear up the contract 8 days later. Yes, statutory law gives excluded occupiers reasonable notice but you gave a contractual length of notice in the agreement of month. Although if she never took up occupation in the property she cannot have been an excluded occupier.

    I do know of a case where a live-in landlord was successfully sued by a lodger for breach of contract, which is what you've done, and the lodger did take matters to court and won a not insignificant sum from the landlord. The details are on another forum and if I can find the link I will post it.

    Found it: https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com...ome-on-page-29

    Comment


      #3

      You're in breach of contract, and the potential lodger is entitled to claim compensation for any loss that could reasonable forseen as a consequence of that breach.
      And, unlike the case linked to in the post above, what actual loss has the claimant suffered?

      I'd respond simply acknowledging receipt of the letter, noting its content and simply saying that there has been no loss to her as a result of the contract being cancelled.
      And point out that it was not possible for the arrangement to go ahead with her completely unrealistic attempt to bring an untrained kitten into a property where that is unsuitable and not something you agreed to before the agreement was signed.

      It doesn't seem credible that someone could have suffered much trouble and distress between 22nd June and whatever date the letter was sent, and it's not possible to claim for future losses or future distress in a contract claim.
      I'm not sure it helps you to make that point right now, though.

      If she's going to try and make a claim in Tort, she's got even less hope.

      I'd say that you dodged a bullet by not taking as a lodger someone who shows every sign of being deranged.
      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


        #4
        I just liked this bit "Furthermore, she specified an untrained kitten. This also gave me serious pause at the time"

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
          You're in breach of contract, and the potential lodger is entitled to claim compensation for any loss that could reasonable forseen as a consequence of that breach.
          And, unlike the case linked to in the post above, what actual loss has the claimant suffered?

          I'd respond simply acknowledging receipt of the letter, noting its content and simply saying that there has been no loss to her as a result of the contract being cancelled.
          And point out that it was not possible for the arrangement to go ahead with her completely unrealistic attempt to bring an untrained kitten into a property where that is unsuitable and not something you agreed to before the agreement was signed.

          It doesn't seem credible that someone could have suffered much trouble and distress between 22nd June and whatever date the letter was sent, and it's not possible to claim for future losses or future distress in a contract claim.
          I'm not sure it helps you to make that point right now, though.

          If she's going to try and make a claim in Tort, she's got even less hope.

          I'd say that you dodged a bullet by not taking as a lodger someone who shows every sign of being deranged.
          Thank you for your input.

          May I also ask, at the bottom of my contract there is a clause that says: The contract is conditional on a satisfactory 'Right to Rent' check being completed.

          I have yet to apply for the 'Right to Rent' check, so this has yet to be completed, would this mean the contract is not in force?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Zyphi View Post

            Thank you for your input.

            May I also ask, at the bottom of my contract there is a clause that says: The contract is conditional on a satisfactory 'Right to Rent' check being completed.

            I have yet to apply for the 'Right to Rent' check, so this has yet to be completed, would this mean the contract is not in force?
            That would be up to the judge. So you didn;t bother to do the R2R or was there some other reason it didn;t get done??
            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


              #7
              Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post

              That would be up to the judge. So you didn;t bother to do the R2R or was there some other reason it didn;t get done??
              I just haven't done it yet, as I was planning on doing it a week before her move-in date. I haven't at this time requested her BRP/VISA.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Zyphi View Post

                May I also ask, at the bottom of my contract there is a clause that says: The contract is conditional on a satisfactory 'Right to Rent' check being completed.
                Did your contract obligate you to apply for a "Right to Rent" check?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Sydaton View Post

                  Did your contract obligate you to apply for a "Right to Rent" check?
                  I believe as a landlord you need to carry out a Right to Rent check for anyone who lives on your property.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Zyphi View Post

                    Thank you for your input.

                    May I also ask, at the bottom of my contract there is a clause that says: The contract is conditional on a satisfactory 'Right to Rent' check being completed.

                    I have yet to apply for the 'Right to Rent' check, so this has yet to be completed, would this mean the contract is not in force?
                    That would help your case a little, but you can't use it as a way of cancelling the contract.
                    You can't have a contract with a condition and then, because you decline to perform the test that satisfies the condition, it can be cancelled.

                    That condition would only apply if you did the test and the other person failed the right to rent test.
                    And, if the judge was being hyper picky, even if the person wasn't entitled to live in the UK and the test identified that, the test itself would actually be satisfactory.

                    "This agreement is conditional on the [whatever the other person is called in the document] successfully passing a 'Right to Rent' check."

                    "This agreement may be cancelled by either party, in writing, for any reason, before [whatever the start date is called]".
                    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


                      #11
                      Given it is only a month i would just pay to avoid having to take on a solicitor to fight it, as said above you have dodged a bullet with this one, god help the next home owner who misses the signs and she moves in !!!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Hudson01 View Post
                        Given it is only a month i would just pay to avoid having to take on a solicitor to fight it, as said above you have dodged a bullet with this one, god help the next home owner who misses the signs and she moves in !!!
                        Hi Hudson,

                        Thanks for the advice. I don't think I would hire a solicitor as this would probably be remedied in a small claims court.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Zyphi View Post

                          I believe as a landlord you need to carry out a Right to Rent check for anyone who lives on your property.
                          Yes, that may be correct but you chose not to answer my question (which of course is up to you)

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Sydaton View Post
                            Yes, that may be correct but you chose not to answer my question (which of course is up to you)
                            If the clause quoted was in the contract, then yes, it implicitly obliges the landlord to ensure the check is carried out.



                            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 Sydaton View Post

                              Yes, that may be correct but you chose not to answer my question (which of course is up to you)
                              Hi Sydaton,

                              Sorry, what I mean is that my contract does not obligate me to check, but it does mention that it is the law to carry out this check.

                              Comment

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