tenants witholding partpayment of rent

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  • tenants witholding partpayment of rent

    Hello ..I am new to this forum and would appreciate some advice. I will try to keep it simple.
    On 1st March I let out my second home (unfurnished) to a young couple with one baby and another due in May . One week before they officially took up the tenancy they requested access to the house in order to lay laminated flooring ( over existing carpets ) in the lounge , kitchen diner and utility room aswell as move some of their possesions in. As they assured me they were looking for a long let , and seeming to be quite amiable people I agreed to let then have the key .
    A few days later a panicky phone call from Mr. soon to be Tenant said the electrics kept tripping when their 'electrician ' friend wired it in. This surprised me cos in the 4 tears ive rented the house out Ive had no problems with electrics. That night a friend of mine kindly offered his services to investigate the problem .He is a qualified electronics engineer and teacher (retired ) . He found some water in the box where the cooker is wired into.
    How that came to be is a mystery. ( the house had been vacant for 4 months ) .So after drying out box he wired in cooker and all seemed well.
    On Saturday evening 28th March an irate phonecall from Mrs 'Tenant ' said cooker trip switch had gone again ( apparently this had happened a number of times within that first month but that was the first I knew of it since water was discovered in the box. ) Not only was she exasperated at me about the electrics but was quite insulting in other ways .
    On the following Monday I went over to check out the socket box thinking water had mystiriously tripped cooker out again but it was dry.
    I said I needed to call an electrician . ( Someone who came highly recommended ) She said if he dousnt come out today she will call out an electrician from yellow pages and deduct the charge from Aprils rent. I said no you wont. Leave it to me. I sensed an arguement brewing so I left .
    I called the electrician and thankfully he would be there within a couple of hours. About 4pm that afternoon he phoned me to say the electrics were fine , the tripswitch box & the cooker wiring-in box needed replacing . Apart from that all was well. There was a fault with their newly purchased 2nd hand cooker. I was relieved that not only had he found the problem but the problem had nothing to do with the electrics.
    However a few days later on the Friday I saw my bank account & Aprils rent was 1/3rd short. I phoned them only to be told they had to buy a NEW cooker in replacement of the 'damaged ' 2nd hand cooker which they claim was the fault of the electrics.
    The electrician told them there was a fault with the cooker . He told me they seemed to find it difficult to accept that fact.
    It really is quite ridiculous . This couple especially Mrs tenant also has issues with me concerning some non emergency repairs that for reasons I wont go into have not been done to their time schedule.

    Twice I offered her the use of my minioven/hob as temporary solution till problem was solved..twice she refused my help.
    I did not charge them for the early access to the house when laying their laminated flooring . They showed their appreciation by giving me a gas bill
    ( addressed to the occupier )for £17.00 ( 11 units of gas ) used during that time . The gas board had a reading from me before I gave them the key. It was the same reading the previous tenants gave last Oct 08 when they left.
    I called the gas board explaining the situation and they have amended the reading to the one I gave them. ( The tenants dont know this yet .)
    To top it all the shorthold tenancy aggreement is for 7 months not 6 .
    I mistakenly put the wrong month on the aggreement. Idont know if they have noticed this ...either way as far as i know its binding unless they want out and agree to have the contract amended.

    I have written them a letter stating the facts concerning the electricians findings , enclosed a copy of his invoice/report that came to £118.28 .
    I said I am expecting the outstanding rent of £220.00 to be paid within 5 days of their recieving the letter ( sent recorded delivery ).

    I realise now ive been too easy going with them , too trusting , and I think somewhat naive . Though I have their deposit with the DPS....I want to pursue this £220.00 through the small claims court if I must .

    Any trust & goodwill on my part has gone. I would like them out at end of 6 or 7 months .
    Can anyone advice me . thanks .
    Last edited by keeth; 11-04-2009, 17:59 PM. Reason: spelling mistake

  • #2
    They do seem to have taken your goodwill for granted rather, but your best option is to stay professional - just keep a written record of all communications, plus invoices, rent payments/non-payments, etc. Unless the total amount they owe you exceeds their deposit, there is little to be gained from chasing these things through a small claims court at this point; dispute the return of their deposit when they go, or refuse the scheme's arbitration if you prefer and use the court route at that point (they may owe you even more by then - let's hope not!).

    In the meantime, serve them a section 21 notice to expire on the first day after their tenancy ends. If you made the AST for 7 months, then you are probably best respecting that, rather than trying to argue it was only supposed to be six.

    If they do not move out on that day, then you will need to apply to the court for a possession order.

    If however they don't pay their rent, and it gets to two months' money owing, you can also serve a section 8 notice which might be a quicker way (depends how long it is to the end of the 7 months by that point).

    You may, however, consider writing them a letter to say how disappointed you are that the tenancy has got off to such a bad start and offering them the opportunity to make amends by settling the electrician's bill (and the gas bill) before you are reluctantly obliged to serve the section 21 notice. You never know, they may have just been having a very stressful time, and they may be OK tenants if given another chance. It's up to you.

    Good luck.
    '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


    • #3
      Originally posted by keeth View Post
      On 1st March I let out my second home (unfurnished) to a young couple with one baby and another due in May . One week before they officially took up the tenancy they requested access to the house in order to lay laminated flooring I agreed to let then have the key .
      A few days later a panicky phone call from Mr. soon to be Tenant said the electrics kept tripping when their 'electrician ' friend wired it in. hat night a friend of mine kindly offered his services to investigate the problem .. He found some water in the box where the cooker is wired into.
      after drying out box he wired in cooker and all seemed well.
      On 28th March an irate phonecall from Mrs 'Tenant ' said cooker trip switch had gone again ( apparently this had happened a number of times within that first month but that was the first I knew of it since water was discovered in the box. )
      On the following Monday I went over to check out the socket box but it was dry.
      I said I needed to call an electrician . She said if he dousnt come out today she will call out an electrician from yellow pages and deduct the charge from Aprils rent. I said no
      I called the electrician and thankfully he would be there within a couple of hours. About 4pm that afternoon he phoned me to say the electrics were fine , the tripswitch box & the cooker wiring-in box needed replacing . Apart from that all was well. 1There was a fault with their newly purchased 2nd hand cooker. I was relieved that not only had he found the problem but the problem had nothing to do with the electrics.
      However a few days later on the Friday I saw my bank account & Aprils rent was 1/3rd short. I phoned them only to be told they had to buy a NEW cooker in replacement of the 'damaged ' 2nd hand cooker which they claim was the fault of the electrics.
      The electrician told them there was a fault with the cooker
      It really is quite ridiculous . This couple especially Mrs tenant also has issues with me concerning some non emergency repairs that for reasons I wont go into have not been done to their time schedule.

      Twice I offered her the use of my minioven/hob as temporary solution till problem was solved..twice she refused my help.
      To top it all the shorthold tenancy aggreement is for 7 months not 6 .
      I mistakenly put the wrong month on the aggreement.

      3I have written them a letter stating the facts concerning the electricians findings , enclosed a copy of his invoice/report that came to £118.28 .
      I said I am expecting the outstanding rent of £220.00 to be paid within 5 days of their recieving the letter ( sent recorded delivery ).

      I realise now ive been too easy going with them , too trusting , and I think somewhat naive . Though I have their deposit with the DPS....I want to pursue this £220.00 through the small claims court if I must .

      4Any trust & goodwill on my part has gone. 5I would like them out at end of 6 or 7 months .
      Can anyone advice me . thanks .
      I've deliberately shortened your post to the salient points

      1. Who did the faulty cooker belong to?

      2. That's betterment, even if you were responsible.

      3. Have you agreed a schedule for the non-urgent repairs?

      4. Keep the leccy's bill safe with the recorded delivery notice for now.

      5. Whether the term is six or seven months does not make a lot of difference, so long as they pay the rent, You cannot issue a S21 before the first four months are past anyway. (to take effect after six months, or maybe seven)

      If it gets to the stage that they owe you two month's rent, i.e. two rent days remain unpaid, (effectively one month and one day) then you can issue a S8. grounds 8,10,11. if they do not pay within 14 days you can proceed to court.
      I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by jta View Post

        5. Whether the term is six or seven months does not make a lot of difference, so long as they pay the rent, You cannot issue a S21 before the first four months are past anyway. (to take effect after six months, or maybe seven)
        .
        I think he can serve it as soon as he likes, (some LLs routinely serve them on Day One, as we have been hearing!) but it cannot take effect ,as you say, before the end of the sixth month (or seventh if that is what the TA says). Is that what you meant?

        (However, I must stress I'm not prepared to be chopped up over this by a Sword of Damocles or any other weapon of mass destruction...and it wouldn't be by you, I know!)
        '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


        • #5
          Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
          I think he can serve it as soon as he likes, (some LLs routinely serve them on Day One, as we have been hearing!) but it cannot take effect ,as you say, before the end of the sixth month (or seventh if that is what the TA says). Is that what you meant?

          (However, I must stress I'm not prepared to be chopped up over this by a Sword of Damocles or any other weapon of mass destruction...and it wouldn't be by you, I know!)
          D'ya wanna bet?

          You're right of course he can serve the S21 anytime he likes.
          I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for prompt advice to all concerned.

            I am in the process of writing a 2nd letter to tenants dealing with repair issues.
            The thing is these people moved in ensuring me they were looking for a longterm tenancy (several years maybe ) . This suited me . Having said that my previous tenants said a similar thing and they left after 6 months so I take things said with pinch of salt. They also asked if , with my permission , they could make some changes (improvements at their own expence ) re replacing top end garden fence (its old but still acts as a screen between them and adjacent property), concreting gravel path , and so forth. I said aslong as its all put in writing for my concideration and the works will enhance the property/garden there should be no problem. Its only on reflection that I realise Mr. Tenant ( not the brightest of bricklayers ) was hoping to get some work out of me and get a reduction in rent ...he offered to replace a downpipe that is functional but does need a slight repair to one end of pipe where it enters a hopper in the middle ...he said he wanted to match the new downpipe with my neighbours cos 'it looked nice '. Also he got a price to replace 2 double-glazed window units front of house . These windows were the original d/g windows ..all the others were new 4 years ago during refurbishment ..& i did tell them on their inspection visit these windows tend to mist up occasionally but otherwise are fine.
            The bottom line is I was unwell(mentalhealth issues )when I was looking for tenants...the place had been empty for 4 months & i needed some income , but felt capable enough to do without agents , found these people , seemed nice at time , very keen on house with garden...shes got baby & expecting another this Summer , no problem with paying deposit/1st months money in cash up front and so on. They did see me couple of times when I was not my best ..I think I came across as an easy touch to these people which intruth I was . However ....and thank God to Omega 3 fish oil capsules which Ive been taking for 2 months now my mental health. mood, attitude and general outlook on life has brought me back to land of the living & i am now seeing life and problems through a vastly more positive lens . ( Anyone suffereing from depression,mood swings , anxiety , ADHD etc give these high quality fish oils a go....)
            So now I am feeling 'on top of the world ' I am dealing with stuff like problem tenants more professionally , calmly , and without fear of getting it wrong again. Thats why I am here seeking advice from those with more experience than me & I am grateful for any sensible advice .

            Getting back to repair issues....a ridge tile that has been missing since before I bought the house some 7 years ago needs replacing. Mr, Tenant ( a ' builder ' pointed out to me in their 1st week that he could see daylight up in loft where tile is missing. (It has not caused any damage by allowing rain water in ---my friend said this is because the position where the tile is missing will only let some drops in and not great gushes of rain that could bring the ceiling down. However I am intending to replace the ridgetile ( my first attempt a month ago failed cos I did not have the strength to push the wooden roofladder to its final placement on the roof & I had to let it go crashing to the ground breaking in half. So allin all the things that do need attention I will get round to doing but since this unexpected dispute over their faulty cooker Im wanting to impress upon them I am not going to be an easy pushover again. I think that Mrs Tenant was expecting me to let this rent deduction go ...well no way Ho zay..I will play it by the book and see what happens with Mays rent .
            I will keep you posted ( if you are interested ) I do know though I am not alone with Tenant problems and its good to read of other small time landlords experiences
            .................. many thanks

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