Bad Landlord- won't repair, protect deposit, or assist T

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    Bad Landlord- won't repair, protect deposit, or assist T

    Hello All,

    A good friend of mine who is a tenant is having trouble with her landlord. As a landlord myself she has asked me for some advice but this beyond me I’m afraid. Apologies if this is a lengthy post but the guy is a nightmare. Here goes...

    1st March 07 she signed up using a reputable letting agent. After the 6 month initial tenancy ended she signed up (with a guarantor) for another 20 months from 1st Sept 07 directly with the landlord (he used a standard Lawpack 2007 tenancy agreement). She has recently asked the landlord if she can give him notice to end the tenancy. As she is only 12 months into the current tenancy the landlord is demanding the rent be paid for the next 8 months if she vacates. I have had a look at the tenancy agreement and there is no option to service notice before the initial term has ended.

    There are several factors that I feel may possibly be relevant and helpful to her when trying to come to some agreement with the landlord:

    1. This one may be irrelevant as she ought to have known better, but she genuinely thought she was signing a 12 month tenancy agreement. At the time of signing the agreement the landlord was ‘in a hurry’ and didn’t give her time to read the agreement (daft I know but she is young and this is her first tenancy). The 20 month term is handwritten on the front page of the agreement and she is convinced that he filled that part in after he had left. The land lord is very intimidating, forceful and uses bully-boy tactics when dealing with her. He also told her at the start that if she wanted to leave she could give him 2 months notice (this is not the case according to the TA). Would this help her at all if he sued for the rent for the remainder of the tenancy? Or does the signed TA over ride his verbal commitments?

    2. If she is tied into the 20 month TA (despite the above)...this seems like a long tenancy period to be tied into with no option to give notice. Is this reasonable?

    3. He assured her (and it’s states in the tenancy agreement) that he would put her deposit into a protection scheme, although she has never received any information on the scheme or a copy of the cert. Incidentally she never actually handed the deposit to him, it was given to him by the letting agent who arranged the first 6 month tenancy. Has he breached the protection scheme rules? Could he realistically be sued for this?

    4. Around April 2008 she contacted the LL and reported a leak under the bath which was spilling water into the kitchen below. The landlord said he’d sort it out and promptly sent his ‘friend’ around to fix it (the pipe was cracked through no fault of her own). He then sent her a bill for the repair. When she queried this he basically said that as she’d been in the property for over 12 months, ALL repairs where her responsibility. She tried to protest and he became very aggressive, swearing at her and he said that if he heard from her about another repair she would be “out on her ear!!”. Since that point she has paid for several repairs, including some plumbing and roof work (she has receipts for the work). It clearly states in the TA that the LL is responsible for repairs (unless it’s the tenants fault). Therefore has he breached the TA? Would receipts for the work be proof enough? Even if he admits to it what would be his ‘punishment’? Could he simply reimburse her and get away with it or could he get into real trouble for this? In other words is this of any use when negotiating with him about vacating?

    5. He would regularly turn up at the property without notice to ‘inspect’ and would demand to be let in (he never let himself in with a key but being very intimidating she felt she couldn’t refuse). Again could he get in trouble for harassing behaviour?

    6. The guarantor signed the tenancy agreement but cant recall signing a separate guarantor agreement. Does this release the guarantor from any liability? TA simply states that ‘guarantor agrees to pay the land lord any monies lawfully due to the LL by the tenant’. Is this enough to bind the guarantor to pay the remaining rent?

    The tenant doesn’t want to take legal action but does want to avoid legal action being taken against her and her guarantor. After all the reason she is moving out is because of the LL’s terrible behaviour.

    If anyone can answer some/all of the questions or has any similar experiences then your assistance would be really very much appreciated.

    James

    #2
    Rather then answer each point individually the sitution appears to be that:
    1. If the tenant signed for a fixed term of 20 months then she's liabile for that period (the term of the contract). There might have been a break clause but it's not unusual if there wasn't.
    2. If she signed it and thinks it was altered afterwards but wasn't given a copy when she signed it then she might have grounds for disputing it.
    3. The landlord is responsible for all repairs that are not the fault of, or due to the negligence of, the tenant.
    4. The landlord has no right to demand entry, and must give at least 24 hours written notice. The tenant can still refuse unless the landlord has a valid reason for wanting to enter, such as inspecting repairs, but this can only be done at reasonable intervals of say, three months.
    5. The guarantor must have been given a copy of the tenancy agreement for the guarantee to be valid and it should have been expedited by deed; this includes the second tenancy agreement if he also was guarantor for the first. I would say that if terms differed between the first and second tenancy agreement and if no new guarantor agreement was in place then it would be invalid.
    6. The moral is don't sign anything until you have read it thoroughly!
    I expect there is plenty more but this should do for starters.
    The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for this Paul.

      The guarantor only came on board for the current TA. She signed the TA but not a separate guarantor agreement. She was never given her own copy of the TA to keep. Is this significant? Does there need to be a separate agreement?

      What action could realistically be taken against the LL for making the tenant pay for repairs? Also for harrassing her with regular visits.

      Also he has today been to the property to intimidate her saying she was 'going nowhere' and he has phoned her new prospective LL who has offered her a property and has told them that she is breaching her current TA by leaving and that they may as well withdraw the offer of a house as she is again, 'going nowhere'. Is this breaching the data protection act? If so what is the punishment for this?

      Thanks again!

      Comment


        #4
        It doesn't sound like G has executed anything that could be used against her.
        JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
        1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
        2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
        3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
        4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

        Comment


          #5
          Hi Jeffrey,

          The tenancy agreement states,

          ‘If there is a Guarantor, he guarantees that the Tenant will keep to his obligations in this Agreement. The Guarantor agrees to pay on demand to the landlord any money lawfully due to the Landlord by the tenant’

          This TA has been signed by G on the front page (along side the T, LL and witness signatures).

          When you say G isn't liable do you mean because she didn't receive a copy of the TA afterwards as Paul has said, or do you mean because there is no separate guarantor agreement?

          Would it be down to the judges discretion if he sued or would LL simply not be able to sue G?

          Thanks!

          Comment


            #6
            The wording of the Tenancy Agreement sounds OK on its own, as an obligation binding G- but the usual problem is whether lack of contracual consideration renders it unenforceable against G.
            JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
            1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
            2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
            3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
            4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

            Comment


              #7
              The 24-hour-Notice requirement is statutory [s.11(6) of LTA 1985], but this is applicable only where L wants to inspect for s.11 purposes. The section dem,ands Notice in writing, but it does not state whether texting is sufficient.
              JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
              1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
              2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
              3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
              4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

              Comment

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