Ex-landlord is threatening us with court proceedings

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    Ex-landlord is threatening us with court proceedings

    Hi, some of your useful advice would be very much appreciated.
    We rented a house with a private landlord (initially through an agent but then he fell out with the agency so have dealt direct with the LL) in Feb 04 with an AST contract.
    The house when we moved in was very dirty and did have a number of the LL possessions which we eventually got him to collect (his son had to come in a van there was that much stuff!).
    We have had very little contact with the LL all this time, only speaking to him re major problems (boiler not working etc) and also renewal of the contract. We have signed a new contract every year, the last signed on 1st Sept 07 for 12 months.
    No mention was ever given that our deposit was ever secured, however we know that he received it off the agency when they parted ways.
    We wrote to the landlord 1st Sept 08 saying that we were moving out on 30th October and if it would be alright to use the deposit already in his possession together with the enclosed cheque to make up the rent for the month of October. we heard nothing from LL although the cheque was cashed the following day! We then had 2 estate agents come and view the house. They said that the house needed "updating" and that they both advised the LL to hold back from advertising it until this was done, carpets, decor, etc. The house was still on the market with 3 letting agents before we moved out.
    The LL rang and asked to view the property middle of Sept and came with his wife. We showed him the entire property (including my sleeping daughters bedroom). He admired the way we had maintained it and our attemps to modernise it - i.e. new white cloakroom suite, etc.
    He said that he had given out new LA a very good reference and that if we ever needed a reference for anything he would happily oblige. We did inform him of all the little faults in the house that we had already mentioned to him previously as we considered that these would deffinately need doing prior to new tennants. We also informed him that we have not been able to mow the lawns due to inclement weather but would do our best. He told us not to worry and also not to worry about the moving out date, to get the keys to him at any time. We have a witness to this. He also confirmed that using the deposit as part of the rent was acceptable.
    On 30th Sept I was cleaning the house and the LL came by, he seemed very happy, he didnt want to come in and just said give him a ring re his keys. I did ask if he wanted me to drop them off at one of his agencies and he said no.
    Unfortunately during the move and with our whole lives in boxes we could not find his mobile number so wrote him a letter apologising and sending the keys recorded delivery to his home address, return address being the vacated property.
    We heard nothing more until our current LA gave us a letter from old LL. In this he is stating all sorts of lies, that he had to break a window to get into the property as he never received any keys, the property was not cleaned, the carpets were stained, the garden was a mess. All in all he was requesting £3500 or he will take it court.
    We know that there was someone in the property within 2 days of moving out, he also has new tennants in the property.
    we replied to his letter stating the facts, he then replied back with more lies and generally making us out to be liers and coniving!
    He has also copied all these comments to our LA who have apparently told him to stop calling due to his disruptivness.
    He says he is now employing a private detective to get our new address (as we have forwarded all post and due to delicate previous personal circumstances we did not give him our new address) and that he will charge us for this. He is also charging us for all new carpets, storage of our possessions which are apprently in a skip (although there is no skip there), 1 months rent as we did not return the keys and threatening police for items he believes we have taken and he is taking us to court to recover all costs.
    We are very worried about how we stand. There is loads of things he is accusing us of but these are the main ones.
    Surely having 2 visits by the landlord in the couple of weeks prior to moving out would of given him ample opportunity for him to tell us if anything was wrong. There has never been an inventory done of the property.
    (Oh by the way, no visual inspection of the whole house has taken place in over 4 years and no visit has been made by the LL in over 18 months).
    Any advise would be very much appreciated.

    #2
    No Inventory = no worry. If there is no inventory then the landlord cannot prove the condition of the property when you first moved in and thus can't rely on it to claim damages from you.

    Deposit - when you signed your renewal in Sept 07 your landlord should, at that point, have protected your deposit in one of the Tenancy Deposit Schemes.

    Keys - if the keys were returned by Recorded Delivery, and they didn't get to him, where did they go? Have you found out yet? You can log onto the Royal Mail tracking service, enter the recorded delivery tracking number on your receipt and it will tell you when they were delivered. For a small fee they will even send you a copy of the signature that was used when they were signed for.

    If you really did put the vacated property down as the 'return address' then it probably wasn't very helpful or thoughtful; in the event of RM not being able to deliver to him directly then having the keys returned to a property that, on the face of it, the landlord doesn't have keys for was always going to cause him a problem wasn't it?
    My advice is not based on formal legal training but experience gained in 20+ years in the letting industry.

    Comment


      #3
      There is no mention of any inventory - either one taken and agreed by you and the landlord's agent before you moved in, or one taken by you and agreed with your landlord when you moved out. If these were never taken, your landlord has little chance of being successful if he tried to take you to court. I wonder why his attitude changed so completely? I would try and obtain witness statements for the facts that you have mentioned here and await any documentation from your old landlord. He doesn't sound as though he has much of a leg to stand on IMHO.

      P.P.
      Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you so much for your replies, I realise now that putting the return address as the old address was a little dumb but thought if they couldnt deliver the keys to him then at least they would try the old house. The RM have got no signiture on the web but I am following it up, however the locks were not changed and I know he had keys. Also I dont believe he had to smash a window. Was he legally allowed to enter the property so soon if he had not got the keys as he says he hasnt?

        Comment


          #5
          I think your last point is the most valid. The landlord had no legal right to enter the property if you had not returned the keys. He has actually admitted to smashing a window to get in and to finding your possessions still there. If your Landlord had posted this information on here and asked for advice he would have been submitted to a jolly good tongue lashing! I suggest you take legal advice, your landlord has made a big mistake here.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Kathryn View Post
            I think your last point is the most valid. The landlord had no legal right to enter the property if you had not returned the keys. He has actually admitted to smashing a window to get in and to finding your possessions still there. If your Landlord had posted this information on here and asked for advice he would have been submitted to a jolly good tongue lashing! I suggest you take legal advice, your landlord has made a big mistake here.
            But the tenant had returned the keys by their own admission; the landlord is saying he never received them. The question also arises that if the tenant had ended the tenancy and returned the keys, why are her possessions still in the house??

            More to this than meets the eye?
            My advice is not based on formal legal training but experience gained in 20+ years in the letting industry.

            Comment


              #7
              Yes, I suspect there is an awful lot more to this than meets the eye. However the landlord had not received the keys from the tenant when he smashed the window, entered the property, removed and then chucked their things in a skip.

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks again for your comments, there is HONESTLT nothing more to this. He saw me on the last day whilst I was cleaning the house, all seemed fine. I genuinely lost his mobile number in the boxes and didnt want to delay him getting the keys so I posted them recorded delivery.
                I know I did not leave anything in that house and there was no skip as he states in his letter.
                Can anyone clear up the matter of securing our deposit and what the implications of not doing this are?
                I really do appreciate all comments, if I am in wrong I want to know about it. I have a feeling that he does this on a regular basis and we are his latest target.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Morgan View Post
                  Thanks again for your comments, there is HONESTLT nothing more to this. He saw me on the last day whilst I was cleaning the house, all seemed fine. I genuinely lost his mobile number in the boxes and didnt want to delay him getting the keys so I posted them recorded delivery.
                  I know I did not leave anything in that house and there was no skip as he states in his letter.
                  Can anyone clear up the matter of securing our deposit and what the implications of not doing this are?
                  I really do appreciate all comments, if I am in wrong I want to know about it. I have a feeling that he does this on a regular basis and we are his latest target.

                  If your LL secured your deposit in one of the 3 government schemes, he should have given you details of that scheme and your reference number for claiming it back at the end of the tenancy. If he has not done this, it sounds as if he may be in breach of contract.

                  From what you have told us, it sounds to me that you would have a good case for contacting the three deposit protection schemes (details can be found on this website) to check whether your money was protected or not. (Alternatively, you could just ask the landlord straight out for the details - I suspect I know what his response will be!)

                  If it wasn'tprotected, you can claim 3x your deposit (assuming the agreement you signed in Sept 07 is counted as a new tenancy, which I think it should be.

                  Even if it was, the LL does not have an automatic right to hang on to it. He will have to persuade the TDS/DPS arbitrator that he has just cause to do so. It sounds very much as if he does not - no inventory, breaking in before he had the keys back, etc. Without an inventory he has very little chance indeed and arbitrators tend to rule in favour of tenants anyway.

                  You can claim your deposit back (or 3x, if unprotected), by filling in a money claim online (it's very striaghtforward). Don't send it immediately (you have to give him a chance to repay you). Print out a copy, send it by post to LL with a covering Letter Before Action, telling him that unless he refunds your deposit in full within 14 days, you will be obliged to press 'send' on your online claim, a copy of which is attached, etc.

                  The chances are it won't get to court - even if he huffs and puffs about the damage, cleaning, etc, he must know he has no chance without an inventory and will probably give in without too much of a fight. The threat of the 3x claim and a ccj against him may well focus his mind wonderfully!

                  Stand your ground - he has behaved badly here, I think and you have a good case.

                  Get back to us if you need any help with the letter you send him. I have a standard version which adapts very easily!
                  'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thank you soooo much for your kind words of widsom. It is really touching to know that there are people out there who care, perhaps I will be able to sleep tonight thanks to your comments. I shall follow your advise and hope to put this matter to bed once and for all.
                    Thanks again

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Reply to mind the gap. Sorry to be a nuisance. where do I find the money claim on line form so that i can fill it in and send him a copy? Also a copy of your letter would be greatly appreciated

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Morgan View Post
                        Reply to mind the gap. Sorry to be a nuisance. where do I find the money claim on line form so that i can fill it in and send him a copy? Also a copy of your letter would be greatly appreciated
                        moneyclaimonline.com is the answer to your first question.

                        Please send me your email address via the LLZ private message system so I can send you the letter.
                        'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                        Comment

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