Been very naive!

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  • Been very naive!

    I am a landlord with a few properties which I have managed quite well over a number of years. Through this I met another professional landlord who had just finished an outstanding luxury development and needed someone to market and manage it.

    My husband and I have been separated for a while as he had had problems with alcohol and while we were still close and amicable I did not wish to live with him until things had been stable for a while. The chance for him to move into this development and have a great project to manage was just amazing so of course he jumped at it.

    He got me to agree that I would furnish his apartment to a high standard and he would use it as a show flat. I didn't mind doing this as I thought eventually I might move there or if we ended up parting then I had set him up to go on with his life.

    I helped to produce a draft agreement for the other landlord about who would do what and we had arranged a meeting to discuss it however he arrived late, there was some other pressing business etc and so it was never really thrashed out. He kept telling us not to worry, he would see us right etc. The landlord then went into hospital and kept telling him just to get on with things and push ahead.

    My husband began working very hard getting the place ready, doing lots of maintenance jobs, furnishing all the apartments and was told by the other landlord to use the rents that were coming in towards that. He verbally agreed my husband could sublet the apartments although there was still nothing in writing. I was very uneasy about it and refused to put my name to anything and pulled back, only being involved in placing some adverts and passing on prospective tenants for viewings. I stayed supportive but not really involved.

    The suggestion at the outset was that whatever work my husband was doing would be offset against any rent he might pay and any extra jobs that were not maintenance jobs would be paid at a daily rate. He was not given a contract (AST or anything else) on the flat but was working up to 18 hours a day on the project.

    Gradually the pressure became too much and he started drinking again and became incapable of managing anything. The landlord then arrived and demanded a large amount of money from him. He showed receipts for things he had bought and a list of the work he had done but the landlord had complaints about his drinking and wanted him out. They tried to sit down together and work out what was owed but could not agree. I had meanwhile refused to do any business with my husband and got him to sign an agreement a few weeks back saying we were no longer linked in that way because he was impossible to work with because of the alcohol. The landlord then denied that he was going to pay anything for the work and expected the rent as well.

    Now the landlord has thrown him out, taken his keys from him and he slept on the streets last night and I don't know where he is right now. The landlord is also keeping the furniture I bought for my husband's flat in lieu of the money he said is missing.

    I did try to get this in writing at the outset but really was pushed out by both of them who seemed to be happy to work in an ad hoc way. The landlord egged my husband on to spend money and get the place finished but was unwilling to give him funding, just telling him to use the cash he had. My husband trusted him on the basis that he had the run of the property and was in a position of trust himself. I feel now he has used us to finish the building at no cost to him and now wants all the rents as well, while kicking out the people who have made it happen for him.

    Now I have lost several £1000s of furniture and am beside myself with worry because I can't find evidence that my husband has registered the deposits he received.

    I know looking back it should have been put down in writing at the outset and I guess all of us have been naive in that.

    I am wondering:

    1. Are the ASTs my husband has given to tenants legal, bearing in mind he had no official agreement from the owner to sublet?

    2. If the contracts are not legal would that help the situation over non lodgement of the deposits which I suspect (obviously these will have to be repaid somehow but I'm worried about who would be liable for any fines)?

    3. Has my husband been evicted illegally though he didn't have a contract?

    4. What's my position about getting my furniture out?

    5. The landlord has implied that if my husband doesn't have the money he will expect it from me - is that the case as we have no joint financial connection and although still married on paper have not been living as a couple for about a year.

    Sorry this is so long but would be grateful for thoughts on any of these points.

  • #2
    I can't really answer any of your questions with authority, and I'm replying because nobody else has. However, it's clear to me that you both need to get legal advice. Your husband may be entitled to legal aid or he can try a Law Centre for free legal advice. http://www.lawcentres.org.uk/

    As a general principle, oral contracts are just as valid as written ones, they are just harder to prove. If this all ended up in court, with the owner sueing your husband for the money he claims is due, and your husband counterclaiming for illegal eviction etc, then I think there is enough evidence to show that some sort of agreement must have been in place, and that it didn't all happen without any knowledge on the owner's part - and you are also a witness.

    Originally posted by mystery View Post
    I know looking back it should have been put down in writing at the outset and I guess all of us have been naive in that.

    I am wondering:

    1. Are the ASTs my husband has given to tenants legal, bearing in mind he had no official agreement from the owner to sublet?
    I don't know, but, as your husband had verbal authority from the owner to act as his agent, I would say it's possible.


    2. If the contracts are not legal would that help the situation over non lodgement of the deposits which I suspect (obviously these will have to be repaid somehow but I'm worried about who would be liable for any fines)?
    Your husband may well be liable.

    3. Has my husband been evicted illegally though he didn't have a contract?
    There can be a valid tenancy even without a written contract. I think it's likely to be illegal eviction simply because it involves the occupier being forcibly removed without a court order.

    4. What's my position about getting my furniture out?
    Strongly worded letter from a solicitor to the owner demanding your goods back in the first instance.

    5. The landlord has implied that if my husband doesn't have the money he will expect it from me - is that the case as we have no joint financial connection and although still married on paper have not been living as a couple for about a year.
    I very much doubt you can be held liable for anything your husband did. You had no contract with the owner, written or verbal.

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