Do I have a case to sue my ex landlord?

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    Do I have a case to sue my ex landlord?

    Hi there,

    I am a student and I feel that my ex landlord evicted me without good cause and generally went about the whole tenancy badly.

    The deal was that she owned the house and would live with me (which I know makes it difficult). When we were arranging the move she asked via email for a £100.00 holding fee to hold the room. She also asked for a months rent (£282) which I think is fairly standard. My fiancé paid the £100.00 and I would pay the £282 when I paid my term's rent when I moved in. At this point, I hadn't seen a tenancy agreement. I moved up to the house in October 09 and signed it there - although she had gone to work so I signed it in front of my family and she hadn't signed it at all by then. She had also left out a guarantor form - which she had suggested that my boyfriend became. I was slightly confused at this as I believed this to be a conflict of interests and he doesn't earn a huge amount as he was a student himself.

    I paid the deposit with three months rent a few weeks later when my funding came through and I paid it into the same bank account - in my time living there I didn't have to sign anything regarding holding the deposit in different accounts etc. Which I am sure is against the law. The tenancy agreement also doesn't state anything regarding holding my deposit.

    In my agreement it stated that utilities would be paid based on what we had used - I was rarely there but still got stung for half the bills. Can I use that in my case? In November, when we tried the heating for the first time, I found out that the radiator in my bedroom didn't work. I reported this to her as we had just had an inspection and when asked if all of the radiators worked, she replied "yes" so it didn't get checked. The radiator wasn't fixed until after New Year 10. And yet still I was billed with half of the bills.

    Things were slightly rocky personally between us until June this year when we were discussing the summer holidays and how to deal with the rent etc if I wasn't to be there, she said she would check with her parents to see if she could offer a summer rent. I leave the house to go home and I find that it's coming up to when my rent is due (1st of July) and I still haven't heard about the new rent etc. I email her asking her about the deal and say that if there isn't a educed rent, I will have to use the 14 days grace as stated in my TA to find the full rent. I hear nothing.

    I email her with about 10 days to go in the grace period telling her that I have £200 of the rent and that the rest should be fine within the period. I ask if she wants it transferred straight away or if she wants to wait for it in full. I hear nothing until her dad emails me on the 7th telling me that they all thin I should move out. Apparently, I owe a huge amount for bills (which I wasn't there for). He emails me on the Wednesday asking that I am out by the Saturday. I tell him that I thought I still had 7 days grace to which he replies that I do but he feels it might be better to not use it as it will mean another weeks rent will attach itself onto my account (at this point, I only owe £65 as that is my weekly rent - I had already told her that I had around 2 thirds of my rent!) and I clearly don't have the means to pay(!) I tell him that the weekend is too soon so I will have to move out the weekend after (at this point I wouldn't want to live with her anyway as she has been severely two faced towards me as she had been talking to me about other things but not the rent) I ask if she could not be there when I unpack as I felt things would run better and I was told that she had to be there because a few weeks ago, the locks had been changed and she would have to let me in - I had no idea that the locks had been changed!

    Also, can I ask to see the electrical certificate as my boyfriend doesn't think they can have one as there was a lack of fire alarms!

    So here we are, as a result of this, I have been very ill and I am now very poor as I am having to live in uni accommodation and I feel wronged! Do you have any advice for me!?

    #2
    Is the house in England/Wales?

    How many people lived there; just you and the landlord?

    Comment


      #3
      The house is in England and it was a 4 bedroomed property but it was just me and the landlord.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by kittymckat1985 View Post
        Also, can I ask to see the electrical certificate as my boyfriend doesn't think they can have one as there was a lack of fire alarms!
        If you are moving out, why do you want to see an electrical certificate?

        Originally posted by kittymckat1985 View Post
        Do you have any advice for me!?
        Your post is long winded. What do you want?
        Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by kittymckat1985 View Post
          When we were arranging the move she asked via email for a £100.00 holding fee to hold the room.
          This should be refundable.

          I paid the deposit with three months rent a few weeks later when my funding came through and I paid it into the same bank account - in my time living there I didn't have to sign anything regarding holding the deposit in different accounts etc. Which I am sure is against the law.
          I think you may perhaps mean deposit protection. This only applies to assured shorthold tenancies. You didn't have an AST because the landlord was resident. You were an excluded occupier (a.k.a. lodger).

          In my agreement it stated that utilities would be paid based on what we had used - I was rarely there but still got stung for half the bills. Can I use that in my case?
          If the agreement said you must pay half the bills, then that's what you're liable for (not just for the radiator in your bedroom). It would probably have been cheaper for you to negotiate bills to be included in the rent.

          I hear nothing until her dad emails me on the 7th telling me that they all thin I should move out. Apparently, I owe a huge amount for bills (which I wasn't there for). He emails me on the Wednesday asking that I am out by the Saturday.
          Legally, the landlord only has to give a lodger 'reasonable' notice. If rent was payable monthly, then a month would be 'reasonable' - however, a LL doesn't need a court order to evict a lodger, so there isn't much comeback (if any) if you are asked to leave sooner than that.

          at this point, I only owe £65 as that is my weekly rent
          If the rent was payable monthly in advance, at that point you owed a month's rent.

          Also, can I ask to see the electrical certificate as my boyfriend doesn't think they can have one as there was a lack of fire alarms!
          There is no legal requirement to provide an electrical certificate or smoke alarms. There is, however, a legal requirement to provide a gas safety certificate; you could have reported this to the Health & Safety Executive, but you would have no case for a civil claim.

          More info here http://www.lodgerlandlord.co.uk/

          * * * * *

          You ask "Do I have a case to sue the landlord?" Please can you clarify what exactly it is you think you might claim for? Return of your deposit, for example?

          Comment


            #6
            With regards to the £65 I owed I was going by her dad's email to me (I assumed that when my rent became due on the 1st July I would owe the full amount)

            Here is his breakdown:

            The summary of the financial position at this point is as follows;
            Rent due; 30/6 – 7/7/10 £65.00
            Outstanding utility bills £250.00
            Latest Electricity Bill; £173.50
            Total Due; £488.50
            Less 50% Gas Credit; £ 18.25
            Total O/S as at 7/7/10 £470.25
            Less your deposit; £382.00
            Balance due from you; £ 88.25

            My understanding is that should have paid £285 on July 1st for July. But because they asked me to leave after the first week, I only technically owed a week.

            They have completely taken both the holding fee and the deposit - which I have a separate issue with as it wasn't put in a TDS (I think it's called) which I have been advised is against the law.

            The TA didn't state that I paid half of the utilities, it stated that the bills would be shared based on individual usage. If I wasn't there to use the electricity then should I have to pay for it? They didn't have a certificate for the gas as there was a fault with the boiler which still hadn't been amended when I moved out.

            I understand that my post was long winded, and I apologise for that but I wanted to be thorough.

            I want to know whether they have done things correctly. I have been told by a lot of people (although they aren't experts which is why I'm here) that they have broken the law in different ways - no TDS, changing the locks, changing my TA without notifying me first, withholding a copy of my TA when I asked for it at the end of the rental and then giving me a copy which has changed. I don't have a lot of money and I wanted to see how the land lay before I start paying for a lawyer.

            Again, I'm sorry for being long winded. I don't have a lot of experience with the law.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by kittymckat1985 View Post
              They have completely taken both the holding fee and the deposit - which I have a separate issue with as it wasn't put in a TDS (I think it's called) which I have been advised is against the law.
              Um, did you not read my post? Deposit protection does not apply to you, because it only applies to assured shorthold tenancies. You did not have an assured shorthold tenancy. You were a lodger/excluded occupier. Lodgers' deposits do not have to be protected. You have been advised incorrectly.

              I have been told by a lot of people (although they aren't experts which is why I'm here) that they have broken the law in different ways - no TDS, changing the locks
              As I already explained, the LL does not need a court order to evict a lodger. You were not illegally evicted. Your landlord did not break the law by changing the locks.

              The TA didn't state that I paid half of the utilities, it stated that the bills would be shared based on individual usage. If I wasn't there to use the electricity then should I have to pay for it?
              If the TA is as vague as this, then it's very hard to argue what 'based on individual usage' means in practical terms. It would be impossible to prove that you used X units of electricity instead of the alleged Y units. The fact that there were only two of you in the house suggests that the only logical way to apportion bills would be 50-50.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by kittymckat1985 View Post
                I want to know whether they have done things correctly. I have been told by a lot of people (although they aren't experts which is why I'm here) that they have broken the law in different ways -
                Originally posted by kittymckat1985 View Post
                no TDS,
                Not necessary for the LL to do this.

                Originally posted by kittymckat1985 View Post
                changing the locks,
                You are a lodger, so the LL can change the locks.

                Originally posted by kittymckat1985 View Post
                changing my TA without notifying me first,
                What was your loss?

                Originally posted by kittymckat1985 View Post
                withholding a copy of my TA when I asked for it at the end of the rental and then giving me a copy which has changed.
                Again, what was your loss?
                If you have a signed agreement and the one given is unsigned, then surely the signed one is valid, and the unsigned not?

                Originally posted by kittymckat1985 View Post
                I don't have a lot of money and I wanted to see how the land lay before I start paying for a lawyer.
                The best thing to do is total up how much compo you you want, and deduct it from the lawyers fee. If you are still in the positive, then get filing at your nearest courthouse.
                Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by kittymckat1985 View Post

                  Here is his breakdown:

                  The summary of the financial position at this point is as follows;
                  Rent due; 30/6 – 7/7/10 £65.00
                  Outstanding utility bills £250.00
                  Latest Electricity Bill; £173.50
                  Total Due; £488.50
                  Less 50% Gas Credit; £ 18.25
                  Total O/S as at 7/7/10 £470.25
                  Less your deposit; £382.00
                  Balance due from you; £ 88.25
                  Ask to see copies of the utility bills for the duration of your occupation so that you can check whether you have been charged only 50%.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    As has been explained several times, in the circumstances you describe you are a lodger and not a tenant.

                    Did the LL actually live with you in the property throughout or at any time during your occupation?

                    pm
                    Before acting on forum advice, you may wish to consult an expert, someone who has all the relevant facts, and who accepts liability for their advice.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by property mongrel View Post
                      As has been explained several times, in the circumstances you describe you are a lodger and not a tenant.

                      Did the LL actually live with you in the property throughout or at any time during your occupation?
                      That's back-to-front! OP is a lodger if (but only if) L also resides.
                      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.
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