L won't communicate (tenancy end): credibility in court?

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  • L won't communicate (tenancy end): credibility in court?

    Hello, I have a fixed term contract (one year) ending on 31st May, sharing with others, the rent is over £25,000 and so I took some advice from someone that this is a 'bare contractual tenancy' not an 'assured shorthold tenancy' and my obligations to the landlord end on the 31st May. There is not even a 'statutory periodic term' after the fixed term, as the tenancy is not under the Housing Act - this is the advice I was given.

    In any case we are all moving out on the 31st May.

    I took advice to the effect that we don't even have to give notice, despite what the contract said (it specifies to give two months notice).

    Despite this, to be polite I emailed and tried to call the landlord (who appeared to 'disappear' and didn't reply) to advise him that we are all moving out, and even sent him a letter recorded delivery over two months before the contract ended (not that there is an actual address on the contract, but a generic solicitor's address which I sent the letter to, which he doesn't appear to have received according to him.) I don't think it's his solicitors' address, he's avoided to give me a correct address from him from the beginning.

    I then finally speak to the landlord who says he hasn't received the letter or emails and regardless, I am liable for a further two months rent until the 31st July! Something about a 'periodic' term starting automatically after the fixed term contract. (a 'three year' periodic term, no less!) There is nothing like that in the copy I have of the lease, unless he has an extra sheet somewhere that he hasn't given me - I dont remember signing anything stating there is a "three year periodic" term though. It clearly states that it is a one year fixed contract from the 31st May 2009. And why would I be liable for rent after the contract is ended anyway!

    He threatened me and all sorts, really nasty, that if I don't pay a further two months rent he'll 'serve a notice' on me that I owe him money ('section 8'). Finally I just hung up on him!

    I think I'm right here. What do I do - he threatened me - I don't want to speak to him ever again. Do I just tell him to serve any notices he wants and I'll communicate in writing from now on? There goes my reference, as well!

    Any suggestions on how to deal with this would be welcome.

  • #2
    Anyone? He says he is coming for a meeting - I am inclined to say I don't want a meeting and that he can put anything in writing and I'll call the police if he tries to call me about this again or turns up unannounced. Is this reasonable?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Moving View Post
      Anyone? He says he is coming for a meeting - I am inclined to say I don't want a meeting and that he can put anything in writing and I'll call the police if he tries to call me about this again or turns up unannounced. Is this reasonable?
      I think you should have a meeting with a witness present ( can you get an independant one - say an estate agent?) And doers not have to be at premises - so you can walk away if needs be at any time if turns nasty. Be very prepared in advance what you wish to say and in a polite professional way. I believe the law is firmly on your side and I leave others to detail how you should structure the information to be given back to L at the meeting - I would think verbally and in writing confirming what was said by yourself.
      Chas

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      • #4
        Oh, and you dont mention a deposit? Was there one and is it being held correctly by the L in a proper approved scheme?
        Chas

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        • #5
          There are some key difference between a common law tenancy (yours) and an AST however there is one fundemental that is based on the 1987 landlord tenant act.

          http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1987...9870031_en.pdf

          Section 47, 48 & 49 states a Landlord must by law provide his/her contact details in writing. If they don't in effect they can not ask for rent to be paid.

          Unless the LL has provided a separate section 48 notice the address you have is given as the one provided in the contract. If there isn't an address provided in theory the tenancy is not even valid

          You met your obligation by sending notice to the last known address (cover by section 49) you have and therefore is considered that notice is served especially as you have proof of sending.
          Last edited by matthew_henson; 12-04-2010, 13:13 PM. Reason: new info on reading the act in more details

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Charles19 View Post
            Oh, and you dont mention a deposit? Was there one and is it being held correctly by the L in a proper approved scheme?
            Chas
            The OP says the tenancy isn't an AST, therefore no requirement to protect the deposit.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Moving View Post
              He threatened me and all sorts, really nasty, that if I don't pay a further two months rent he'll 'serve a notice' on me that I owe him money ('section 8'). Finally I just hung up on him!

              I think I'm right here. What do I do - he threatened me - I don't want to speak to him ever again. Do I just tell him to serve any notices he wants and I'll communicate in writing from now on? There goes my reference, as well!

              Any suggestions on how to deal with this would be welcome.
              I would write a scrupulously polite letter reiterating the contents of the above conversation (and quote any abusive remarks made by LL), and deny liability for any further rent beyond the end of the fixed term. For example,

              Dear Landlord,

              Further to our conversation on [date] in which you threatened me with legal action, and called me "[abusive remark]", I write to advise you that I/we deny liability for rent beyond the end of the fixed term on 31st May 2010. As you have already been advised, in a letter dated [date], and sent via recorded delivery to the address for serving notices specified in our contract, I/we will be vacating the property on 31st May 2010, this being the last day of the fixed term agreed in the contract.

              Yours etc.
              Keep a copy and send it to the address for serving notices in your tenancy agreement, and get proof of posting.

              I would then move out at the end of the tenancy, and assuming he tries to withhold your deposit, issue a county court claim for return of the deposit.

              With this in mind, and as you don't mention that there is an agent involved who is acting as deposit stakeholder, you need to get a residential address for the landlord in order to make it simpler to pursue and enforce a claim.

              First, try checking the Land Registry online. It may have an alternative address for the landlord, if he bought the property as an investment and didn't previously live there.

              Failing this, call the solicitors in the notice address to ask if they act for the LL; if yes, write to them citing s.1(1) Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, which requires the LL's "agent" to supply, within 21 days, the LL's name and address. It's possibly stretching the definition of "agent" but it's worth a shot. (N.B. if LL is a company, then just look them up on the Companies House website).

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by matthew_henson View Post
                Unless the LL has provided a separate section 48 notice the address you have is given as the one provided in the contract. If there isn't an address provided in theory the tenancy is not even valid.
                That's wrong. The Letting is valid. It's just that L cannot treat any rent as due unless and until he complies with s.48.
                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


                • #9
                  Assuming it is the case that the agreement only grants a fixed term and not a fixed term to be followed by a periodic tenancy, then the tenancy ends on the last day of the fixed term. It would only continue as periodic if you paid and the landlord accepted rent for any period after the last day of the fixed term. Any requirement to serve notice to end a fixed term is a logical nonsense since it only confirms what must happen and what the parties know will happen.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Moving View Post
                    Anyone? He says he is coming for a meeting - I am inclined to say I don't want a meeting and that he can put anything in writing and I'll call the police if he tries to call me about this again or turns up unannounced. Is this reasonable?
                    It's not reasonable to call the police unless the LL has either made physical threats, or enters the property without your consent (if he has keys), or turns up unannounced and starts banging on the door and making a commotion etc (you've no obligation to let him in). It's reasonable to refuse to have a meeting if there is nothing to discuss, and it's reasonable to ask that he writes to you instead.

                    Perhaps add something to the letter saying that you trust you have made your position clear and if LL has anything else he wishes to discuss please can he put it in writing. If you're in email contact with the LL, make a PDF of the letter and email it as well as post it so he gets it sooner (I say make a PDF because emails can be altered, and the LL sounds untrustworthy).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                      Assuming it is the case that the agreement only grants a fixed term and not a fixed term to be followed by a periodic tenancy, then the tenancy ends on the last day of the fixed term. It would only continue as periodic if you paid and the landlord accepted rent for any period after the last day of the fixed term. Any requirement to serve notice to end a fixed term is a logical nonsense since it only confirms what must happen and what the parties know will happen.
                      I agree. Moreover, it can only be statutorily continued if it's still an AST/SAT (i.e. T still resides there as only/main home: s.1).
                      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


                      • #12
                        Thanks a lot. Is it possible that I have signed an extra sheet somewhere stating there is an automatic periodic tenancy to start after the fixed term? This is certainly not included in my copy of the contract...would such a thing even be valid? It looks like a straight forward fixed term one year contract so can the landlady 'create' a periodic term by adding such a thing?

                        Seriously need to cover all my bases, he's called twice today. Contract specifies there is no deposit but rent in advance, now also a source of contention but this is what it says. Grateful for your help...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Moving View Post
                          Thanks a lot. Is it possible that I have signed an extra sheet somewhere stating there is an automatic periodic tenancy to start after the fixed term? This is certainly not included in my copy of the contract...would such a thing even be valid? It looks like a straight forward fixed term one year contract so can the landlady 'create' a periodic term by adding such a thing?
                          The tenancy contract presumably has numbered pages and ends with a page or two of signatures, yes? The LL cannot tack on an additional page, unsigned by you (well, if he did, it wouldn't be a valid part of the contract). In any case, you've given notice to end the contract at the end of fixed term - end of story.

                          Seriously need to cover all my bases, he's called twice today. Contract specifies there is no deposit but rent in advance, now also a source of contention but this is what it says. Grateful for your help...
                          What exactly does it say about rent in advance - can you quote the precise wording? Because if it's the case that you'll have paid the full rent for the year, say, two months before the end of the contract, you obviously don't have to pay any further rent.

                          Some LLs use the 'rent in advance' thing to try to avoid deposit protection, but as this isn't an AST I can't think why the LL wouldn't simply take a deposit. I wonder whether he doesn't realize that deposit protection isn't required, and is nevertheless trying to avoid it; he may not understand the difference between an AST and a contractual tenancy.

                          Seriously, don't let this landlord intimidate you. Be polite but assertive. If he gets very unpleasant or simply won't leave you alone, then do go to the police and report the threats or harassment; they may have a word with him, so it may make him think twice before harassing you further. Other options include going to a CAB, a community law centre, or a solicitor, and get them to write to the landlord telling him to back off.

                          Remember, the absolute worst that could happen is that the LL issues a claim against you for two months rent and you have to pay it - but I honestly think it is extremely unlikely he is in any way entitled to further rent after you move out.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Moving View Post
                            Thanks a lot. Is it possible that I have signed an extra sheet somewhere stating there is an automatic periodic tenancy to start after the fixed term? This is certainly not included in my copy of the contract...would such a thing even be valid? It looks like a straight forward fixed term one year contract so can the landlady 'create' a periodic term by adding such a thing?

                            Seriously need to cover all my bases, he's called twice today. Contract specifies there is no deposit but rent in advance, now also a source of contention but this is what it says. Grateful for your help...
                            A fixed term contract automatically reverts to a periodic tenancy if you pay the rent the day after you fixed term ends and the LL accepts it, no signed agreement is required for this to happen.

                            How much rent did you pay in advance? if more than a month (say 1 extra month then clearly you have paid for you last month and no rent due) a deposit usually has it's own clause in the tenancy agreement and is refered to as a deposit, a rent advance is exactly that, a rent advance.

                            You are entitled to move out on the 31st May, you gave adequate notice (even though you did not need to) using the only address you were given and therefore under section 49 of the 1987 LTA you have served notice to the correct address. LL has no recourse.

                            Suggest you now tell the LL that he is harrassing you and that any further discussion must be done in writing. If he breachs this you will involve the police. You can also pay BT (or who ever you use) for the "right to refuse service" and block his number when he calls.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by westminster
                              Good idea!
                              It is very effective and work even when the number is withheld, the process is simple.

                              I had a serious nutter (genuinely round the twist) LL a few years ago who was just a nightmare, even threatened to kill my one year old daughter. I can feel for the OP because when you are in the middle of situation where you are being harrassed it is really quite frightening.

                              It is she I have to thank for being here, it is amazing what you can learn when you need to especially when you have a national estate agent like Knight Frank playing hard ball as well

                              Comment

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