Student T represented by S/Union- dispute with L

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    Student T represented by S/Union- dispute with L

    Hello Experts and fellow readers,

    I reading these forums almost religiously, trying to avoid pitfalls and sometimes share my little experience.

    looks like its my turn to learn my lesson hard way....
    I'm very much novice landlord (in my first term with tenants, fixed term AST- 12 month ), i have students from abroad as tenants and until recently everything was pretty fine. The terms is finishing on 31 of august, but they would like to to go home on July 15th. One of the tenant send me a note (June 1st) asking for help and trying to consider me to cut the term (as students they paid rent upfront). Assume this should serve as notice,please correct otherwise.
    I said OK and start working on preparation and get LA engaged and signed T&C with them. Then the problems has started

    there are hardly speaking English and ask me to control Utilities - electricity and water. They are running very late on payments of these and last time i ask, then they said that bills are seem to be very high and want to check with utility companies,even though i provided invoices to them. there are moaning about luck of money and that parents demand a lot of evidence (invoices, receipts, talk to companies).
    Meanwhile i was working hard to avoid void period and rent property as soon as they will be leaving.

    then out of blue, i got a letter from Student Union legal adviser, which started almost like a war announcement - we have a team of solicitors, who will represent students if needed, demand full set of utilities bills from me, a lot of legal details- copy of AST, deposits IDs, continuously treating me with legal actions.

    I went on their web site and check who they are and what are they doing.
    first thing i saw a huge Plea to new landlords to help to provide decent accommodation to "poor" student.
    Ultimately its a profit organization, but have legal unit to help students with housing issues.

    I never was part of their scheme and got tenant via other LA. La basically wash the hands and said that they are not managing the property and its not their problem

    As result if this my tenants completely switch off on my request to get property view (fully in line of AST - 24 hours by email/text message) - lazily respond that they will get to me next week when they check their schedule! All my requests to common sense is completely ignored.
    Now tenant said that he change his mind and would like to stay till end of august.

    I tried to get situation under control;
    politely answer to lady with all information needed
    had a chat with her and ask her to manage their expectations - they probably under impression now that they are untouchable and I'm nobody - this is probably due to cultural differences plus lack of manners.
    She did listen but was not forthcoming with suggestion to facilitate this conversation.not sure why, may be here hidden interest somewhere.

    I'm really would like to sort this peacefully and get them out ASAP... however they are probably start taking a piss.

    they start talking to security at reception to control my entrance into building- So the guy whom i paid salary (via service charge) start asking what I'm doing here and when i'm going to leave

    So here is my request for help and questions

    -how to handle this "help" from Student union and neutralize it- they were very reasonable before that meeting
    -in case they stay full term - should deduct the expenses from their deposits
    - in case they go home - can enter the flat and take control of the flat - not sure who the will give the keys and not sure if they will come back by end of the terms - they got visa expiry date 5 days before end and get VISA now is very difficult
    - who will hand it over the flat to me when they gone?
    - what is the best way to cut the deal with them
    -security and entrance to building- the call to Senior Manager whom i transfer annual charge will sort this out, correct ?

    apologies for unstructured note, I'm really crossed and feel bullied by "supporting" organization to protect "POOR" student (who is shopping only in Harrods) and really would be grateful for any advise to handle it.

    if worst come to worst what should i do NOW(gather necessary information, send notifications, etc.) for court case...

    Thank in advance for advice

    #2
    Originally posted by Eric675 View Post
    As result if this my tenants completely switch off on my request to get property view (fully in line of AST - 24 hours by email/text message) - lazily respond that they will get to me next week when they check their schedule!
    They're not obliged to let you into the property, even if you give 24 hours notice. The only legal way you can access the property is either in an emergency or with a court order.

    What is the legal basis that Students' Union are threatening you with? I would probably be best if you complied with their requests as they do not seem unreasonable, the tenants are entitled to a copy of the AST and access to the bills if they are paying for them. The legal people at the SU wouldn't threaten you with legal action if there is no basis for it.

    I don't totally understand where the dispute has arisen. Is it due to rent/bills unpaid/arrears? Are your sure you haven't done anything (legally) wrong? It seems odd that they have jumped from relatively cordial relations with you to seeking advice from the SU.

    You probably shouldn't have agreed to have the utilities in your name if they are paying for them.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for reply. i probably was not clear:

      utility bills are not paid for the whole year and they want to move out, hence i start to demand payment for bills, as i was not sure the deposit amount will cover everything. the main contentious point is utility bills.
      they have AST with them and deposit protected etc. all bills has been provided to him and i spent ages on the phone with utilities to ask to resend another set of bills.

      Also they are not allowing agent to go and view properties, even though its stated clearly in AST , that they should allow access to flat in last 2 month.

      I may be over reacting here, but quite frankly feel myself without any ammunition here, looks like AST means nothing in terms of access....

      Comment


        #4
        Does the Tenancy Agreement specifically make them liable for bills? If so, it really was a mistake to put the bills in your name.

        When it comes to the end of the contract, you will have to work out how much they owe you in bills and sue them for the amount the deposit does not cover. Are you all square with the utility companies, i.e. you do not owe them anything? As far as they are concerned, you are the person they will chase for anything outstanding as the utilities are in your name.

        If they are not complying with your request for access, despite it being a term of the early surrender of the Tenancy you can hold them liable for rent until the last day of the Agreement. If they have stated that they are now staying until the end of the tenancy there isn't much you can do by way of gaining access for viewings if the Tenants do not give permission.

        Have you communicated your issues clearly with the Students' Union? They won't fight a losing battle, so providing they are totally in the wrong you should be able to reason with the legal advisers and they can advise the Tenants accordingly.

        Also, try to keep all formal communication with the Tenants in writing and sent by Royal Mail with a Free Certificate of Posting. If you need to sue the tenants for outstanding bills/rent, it may be valuable to have all communication in writing.

        Comment


          #5
          Thank Roryl, appreciated

          AST stated that they are responsible for utility bills...it was good will gesture, as they hardly speak English at all...they have bills for broadband and asking me every time to help with BT...but i understand it my mistake

          Deposit will not cover the bills plus i do not know what else need to repair...
          RE SU - yes i respond formally to lady requests and had a good conversation with her (in my view)

          I understand that you are from other side of the fence - but these type experience will force me to exclude students as potential tenants going forward.

          I do not think that SU is serious with legal treat, but i can live without this hassle.

          Comment


            #6
            I totally understand, a bad experience can put the best of us off.

            Another piece of advice I would give is to check out what checks your Letting Agent did on the tenants. It seems that they could have got your a more suitable standard of tenant. Do you know if they are able to pay for the bills?

            If the tenants aren't communicating with you directly, use the SU as an intermediary. In all likeliness they will be reasonable if you have done nothing wrong. From what you have written, it seems the tenants have been giving you the run around and your only mistake was to take responsibility for the bills.

            It would be a good idea, if you haven't already, to serve a Section 21 notice to expire at the end of the tenancy. Hopefully someone on here will pop along and guide you through the process. If served validly, it will enable you to remove the tenants via the courts if they choose not to leave at the end of the tenancy.

            edit - if the agreement expires on 31st August, you need to get the Section 21 sorted before the end of THIS month for it to be valid. AFAIK, It requires 2 months notice coinciding with rental periods. Someone else should be able to confirm this for you.

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks again Roryl, don get me wrong, i do not want to discriminate anybody, but feel very insecure...

              i think agency did nothing regarding the check , as they paid full rent upfront...another lesson for me - DON'T BE GREEDY.

              are you saying that if they go home and did not come back until 311st of August I'm still not able to enter the property? how come?

              also if this is the case what legally constitute the end of tenancy:

              do they submit the keys and vacate the property?
              should they have to sign any documents.
              should they return the AST back to me?
              anything else?

              apologies if this very basic questions.

              thanks for response.

              Comment


                #8
                If they left the property before the end of the Tenancy but continued to pay rent until the end, then technically the Tenancy is still active and their rights under the law remain.

                It's a complex area which I'm not confident about clarifying for you. Hopefully (someone? anyone?) will attempt to answer your questions more fully.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks Roryl,

                  My biggest worry that they let other people in while they are away and looks like nothing i can do...technically they can refuse me to do the inspection even though there is a clause in AST....i got suspicion that there are more people living there then suppose to be. how i can check it?

                  also as mentioned before they are going back to sort their VISA and there is no guarantee that they will be granted visa...

                  i probably need to post separate post about what is check list for completion of tenancy ...anybody can help here . thanks

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Eric675 View Post
                    I'm very much novice landlord (in my first term with tenants, fixed term AST- 12 month ), i have students from abroad as tenants and until recently everything was pretty fine. The terms is finishing on 31 of august, but they would like to to go home on July 15th. One of the tenant send me a note (June 1st) asking for help and trying to consider me to cut the term (as students they paid rent upfront). Assume this should serve as notice,please correct otherwise.
                    I said OK and start working on preparation and get LA engaged and signed T&C with them. Then the problems has started
                    So, it was a 12 month AST commencing 1st September 2009, correct?

                    The note the tenant sent on 1st June was not a 'notice', as the tenant cannot give notice to end the tenancy sooner than the end of the fixed term on 31st August. What it was was a request for an early surrender of the tenancy (which you had no obligation to accept). What do you mean by "signed T&C" with them? Do you mean you signed a Deed of Surrender to end the tenancy on 15th July, or what?

                    there are hardly speaking English and ask me to control Utilities - electricity and water. They are running very late on payments of these and last time i ask, then they said that bills are seem to be very high and want to check with utility companies......
                    AST stated that they are responsible for utility bills...it was good will gesture, as they hardly speak English at all...they have bills for broadband and asking me every time to help with BT...but i understand it my mistake
                    So, the tenancy agreement makes them responsible for utilities. What I would do is inform the utility companies that the tenant is liable - send them a copy of the tenancy agreement, and ask them to bill the tenants direct for the overdue amounts.


                    then out of blue, i got a letter from Student Union legal adviser, which started almost like a war announcement - we have a team of solicitors, who will represent students if needed, demand full set of utilities bills from me, a lot of legal details- copy of AST, deposits IDs, continuously treating me with legal actions.
                    What exactly are the tenants complaining about? Is it just about the utility bills, or something else as well?

                    they start talking to security at reception to control my entrance into building- So the guy whom i paid salary (via service charge) start asking what I'm doing here and when i'm going to leave
                    Why have they done this? Were you entering the rental property without their consent? i.e. the actual flat, not the communal areas of the block.

                    Final question, did they pay a deposit and is the deposit protected?

                    It would help very much if you could try to answer all my questions, one by one, rather than give a general reply.

                    i think agency did nothing regarding the check , as they paid full rent upfront...another lesson for me - DON'T BE GREEDY.
                    The agent has done nothing wrong; they can't make credit checks on foreign students, that's why in this situation rent is often paid fully in advance.

                    i probably need to post separate post about what is check list for completion of tenancy ...anybody can help here . thanks
                    Don't post another thread. Keep adding to this one so that everyone knows all the background to the situation.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Eric675 View Post
                      ,
                      My biggest worry that they let other people in while they are away and looks like nothing i can do...technically they can refuse me to do the inspection even though there is a clause in AST....i got suspicion that there are more people living there then suppose to be. how i can check it?
                      It doesn't matter much who else is living there. If you end up having to get a possession order, the bailiff will evict anyone else living there, whether they're a named tenant on the contract or not.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by westminster View Post
                        So, it was a 12 month AST commencing 1st September 2009, correct?
                        Yes correct.

                        Originally posted by westminster View Post
                        The note the tenant sent on 1st June was not a 'notice', as the tenant cannot give notice to end the tenancy sooner than the end of the fixed term on 31st August. What it was was a request for an early surrender of the tenancy (which you had no obligation to accept). What do you mean by "signed T&C" with them? Do you mean you signed a Deed of Surrender to end the tenancy on 15th July, or what?
                        No i was talking about me starting the whole campaign to rent the property from July 5th....i signed T&C with LA, not sure if the will be happy if now we will be taking about 31st of August. Plus of course my time...so are you saying this pretty much irrelevant if they decided to stay ....for the future what document/memo they should send to me so it become official and i will waste my time


                        Originally posted by westminster View Post
                        So, the tenancy agreement makes them responsible for utilities. What I would do is inform the utility companies that the tenant is liable - send them a copy of the tenancy agreement, and ask them to bill the tenants direct for the overdue amounts.

                        Are you sure that utilities will agree to do this...usually they will have to open new account for them and close my account and will send me final bills.


                        Originally posted by westminster View Post
                        What exactly are the tenants complaining about? Is it just about the utility bills, or something else as well?
                        the main area is utility bills...until that everything went well.

                        Originally posted by westminster View Post
                        Why have they done this? Were you entering the rental property without their consent? i.e. the actual flat, not the communal areas of the block.
                        i always notify them upfront and only enter the flat when they are not in when they are allowed to do so.
                        i think that they make up some stories to warm up legal advisor...


                        Originally posted by westminster View Post
                        Final question, did they pay a deposit and is the deposit protected?
                        Protected.

                        Originally posted by westminster View Post
                        It would help very much if you could try to answer all my questions, one by one, rather than give a general reply.

                        The agent has done nothing wrong; they can't make credit checks on foreign students, that's why in this situation rent is often paid fully in advance.
                        Understand..so in case they will go away and not get back on August 31st what should i do?

                        Also how to handle the conversation with person from SU?


                        Originally posted by westminster View Post
                        Don't post another thread. Keep adding to this one so that everyone knows all the background to the situation.
                        Agreed, so what are the concrete steps to finalize this tenancy and what documents i need to serve.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by westminster View Post
                          It doesn't matter much who else is living there. If you end up having to get a possession order, the bailiff will evict anyone else living there, whether they're a named tenant on the contract or not.
                          But how i can guarantee that there will be no people who are not in AST will be leaving 2 month while main tenants are away...looks like that doesn't matter what you put into AST...you still not able to control who is living and how many people....all you need to do is to find subsided (by taxpayers) organization who then squeeze you

                          I can see this coming that why i really would like to make a peace with them - any creative suggestions guys? many thanks

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Eric675 View Post
                            No i was talking about me starting the whole campaign to rent the property from July 5th....i signed T&C with LA, not sure if the will be happy if now we will be taking about 31st of August. Plus of course my time...so are you saying this pretty much irrelevant if they decided to stay ....for the future what document/memo they should send to me so it become official and i will waste my time
                            To end the tenancy earlier than the end of the fixed term, you and the tenant[s] would have to sign a Deed of Surrender. Even then, it doesn't guarantee that the T will leave when they say they will.

                            The T&C you apparently signed with the letting agent is irrelevant. Don't worry about it. They will be completely used to dates of property availability changing.

                            As things stand, the AST continues up to 31st August at least, and beyond if the tenant chooses not to leave.

                            You need to serve a s.21(1)(b) notice now. It must give T at least two months, and it cannot expire before the fixed term ends on 31st August. Assuming you post it, keep a copy of the notice, and send two identical copies first class from two separate post offices and get two *free* certificates of posting (do not use signed for services, as these can be refused by the recipient). Keeping the copy and proof of posting is essential as you will need this evidence if you go on to apply for a possession order.

                            Also, allow two clear days for service. For example, if you post the notice on Monday 28th June, the notice will be deemed served on 1st July. So, to be on the safe side, put on the notice that you require possession "after 1st September 2010".

                            Here is a template notice:
                            http://www.letlink.co.uk/GeneralInfo...on/S21_1_B.pdf
                            (Note that, where it says 'name and address of tenant' you must put the names of all the tenants named on the AST contract).

                            Then, on 2nd September, if necessary, you can apply to the court for a possession order.

                            Are you sure that utilities will agree to do this...usually they will have to open new account for them and close my account and will send me final bills.
                            No, I'm not sure, but it's worth a try (explain to the utilities companies why the bills have been in your name even though the T is actually liable from 1st Sept 2009). At the very least, you can get the bills to start going direct to the T as from the date of your phone call (better than remaining liable for the remainder of the tenancy and potentially beyond).


                            the main area is utility bills...until that everything went well.
                            Then it's a bit of a mystery....

                            i always notify them upfront and only enter the flat when they are not in when they are allowed to do so.
                            i think that they make up some stories to warm up legal advisor...
                            ...or perhaps not, if the students are aware that you've been entering the property in their absence without their consent. If this is what you've done, please be aware that this is not acceptable, regardless of having given advance notice of the visit. You need the T's express consent.

                            Understand..so in case they will go away and not get back on August 31st what should i do?
                            Try to get them or the SU to tell you of their intentions. Failing which, apply to the court for a possession order after the s.21 notice expires.

                            Also how to handle the conversation with person from SU?
                            Obviously, be polite. Ask them to provide a list of the T's complaints and say you will do your best to rectify any issues. Point out that the tenancy agreement states that T is liable for utilities and that you have been involved only at the request of the Ts.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Eric675 View Post
                              But how i can guarantee that there will be no people who are not in AST will be leaving 2 month while main tenants are away...looks like that doesn't matter what you put into AST...you still not able to control who is living and how many people....all you need to do is to find subsided (by taxpayers) organization who then squeeze you

                              I can see this coming that why i really would like to make a peace with them - any creative suggestions guys? many thanks
                              I would just serve a s.21 (as per previous post) and follow up with a possession order if necessary. If you use the accelerated procedure it shouldn't take that long, and if no rent is paid after 31st August the deposit will cover some of that period of unpaid rent (assuming contract allows you to make deductions for unpaid rent), so you won't be left that much out of pocket rent-wise.

                              When you get the possession order, you can then instruct a bailiff to enforce it and they'll evict the tenant[s] and/or anyone living at the property.

                              Just so as you know, as from 1st September, if the tenant remains in occupation (with whatever 'guests' they have living there) then the tenancy automatically becomes a statutory periodic tenancy. The provisions in the expired fixed term contract remain in place, i.e. the provisions for rent, etc, with the exception of provisions for notice. The latter need not concern you if you serve a valid s.21(1)(b) notice now.

                              Comment

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