Tenant left during term- now on HB- can I recover arrears?

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    Tenant left during term- now on HB- can I recover arrears?

    Hi everyone,

    I wonder if anyone can help please?

    I had a tenant for 8 years. The contract was a new AST every 12 months. In April my partner realised that we were undercharging and could get about £100 a month more for the property. We spoke to the tenant ( who was on housing benefit), and they were worried the extra would not be paid by housing benefit. However, they agreeed to pay us an extra £5 per month from then until the end of the existing contract which was 10 months, and then an new 12 month AST would be issued at the new rent.

    We received a cheque for this and cashed it.

    Two months later, at the end of June they just upped and left. He left a lot of furniture, posted the keys back to us with an unsigned letter saying "the tenant at ***** have left.

    I held a £500 deposit and it cost me £250 to get the furniture removed.

    Under the terms of the contract they are liable for the rent until the end of the contract.

    So the total of the unpaid rent (or fee for breaking the contract), plus some rent arrears, plus the above £250 cost to me, minus the £500 deposit held comes to about £800 owed to me.

    I have now traced him. He is now in social housing in the town, I have issued a letter giving 14 days to pay me the £800.

    I am sure he won't pay. But he is on income support so I am wondering if it is worth my while going through a small claims court, as I don't think they will make him pay much a month.

    Also a friend has pointed out that I may have broken the contract by taking the extra £5 a month in rent above the amount stated in the contract. Although I never put that in writing, but he did send a covering letter with the cheque saying that that was what it was for.

    Also, I am now told I have no right to put the left over £250 deposit towards what I am owed, even though he did a punner.

    Thanks for reading this long post.

    #2
    Looks like you are going to have to swallow it. You can get a CCJ against him through the small claims court but getting your money back is a different matter. If he is working, no problem but if he's on benefits or self employed forget it, even if you do get an attachment of earnings order, its likely to spread the bill over 20 years, that's what happened to me. I did get some satisfaction though.

    Comment


      #3
      Ooh! Spot of trouble here!
      Originally posted by Grundy View Post
      Hi everyone,

      I wonder if anyone can help please?

      I had a tenant for 8 years. The contract was a new AST every 12 months. In April my partner realised that we were undercharging and could get about £100 a month more for the property. We spoke to the tenant ( who was on housing benefit), and they were worried the extra would not be paid by housing benefit. However, they agreeed to pay us an extra £5 per month from then until the end of the existing contract which was 10 months, and then an new 12 month AST would be issued at the new rent. You can't vary the rent mid-term as you have agreed a 12 months period at a certain rent! Even if the tenant agreed to the increase you have prejudiced their legal rights

      We received a cheque for this and cashed it.

      Two months later, at the end of June they just upped and left. He left a lot of furniture, posted the keys back to us with an unsigned letter saying "the tenant at ***** have left. As it was unsigned then there is no lawful termination of the tenancy by the tenants, but as your tenants left the keys and you accepted them, it is deemed you have accepted termination of the tenancy at that point, and on that day, so no further rent is due (other than any arrears?) from that day onwards.

      I held a £500 deposit and it cost me £250 to get the furniture removed. Unless your tenants gave you permission to dipose of their goods you had a legal obligation to store them for 90 days if there was no "abandonment" clause in your AST, before disposal.

      Under the terms of the contract they are liable for the rent until the end of the contract. No they're not! See above

      So the total of the unpaid rent (or fee for breaking the contract), plus some rent arrears, plus the above £250 cost to me, minus the £500 deposit held comes to about £800 owed to me. Errr........No!

      I have now traced him. He is now in social housing in the town, I have issued a letter giving 14 days to pay me the £800.

      I am sure he won't pay. But he is on income support so I am wondering if it is worth my while going through a small claims court, as I don't think they will make him pay much a month.

      Also a friend has pointed out that I may have broken the contract by taking the extra £5 a month in rent above the amount stated in the contract. Although I never put that in writing, but he did send a covering letter with the cheque saying that that was what it was for.

      Also, I am now told I have no right to put the left over £250 deposit towards what I am owed, even though he did a runner. You might well struggle to justify this!

      Thanks for reading this long post.
      Next time think about your actions first!
      The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

      Comment


        #4
        Tenancy not Surrendered?

        Originally posted by Paul_f View Post
        Two months later, at the end of June they just upped and left. He left a lot of furniture, posted the keys back to us with an unsigned letter saying "the tenant at ***** have left. As it was unsigned then there is no lawful termination of the tenancy by the tenants, but as your tenants left the keys and you accepted them, it is deemed you have accepted termination of the tenancy at that point, and on that day, so no further rent is due (other than any arrears?) from that day onwards.
        Although a very learned poster, I'm not sure if Paul's interpretation is correct here.

        There was a case in, I think, 2001 called Laine -v- Cadwallader and Cadwallader where (although periodic) the tenants posted the keys through the letterbox of the landlord. The judge ruled that although by posting the keys the tenants were surrendering the tenancy, the landlord was not given the opportunity to accept or decline and so the tenancy stood until 4 weeks after the next rent day (under the Prevention of Eviction Act rules).

        This would seem to indicate that the tenants above will be liable for rent as the owner was not given the opportunity to accept or decline.
        On some things I am very knowledgeable, on other things I am stupid. Trouble is, sometimes I discover that the former is the latter or vice versa, and I don't know this until later - maybe even much later. Because of the number of posts I have done, I am now a Senior Member. However, read anything I write with the above in mind.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Esio Trot View Post
          Although a very learned poster, I'm not sure if Paul's interpretation is correct here.

          There was a case in, I think, 2001 called Laine -v- Cadwallader and Cadwallader where (although periodic) the tenants posted the keys through the letterbox of the landlord. The judge ruled that although by posting the keys the tenants were surrendering the tenancy, the landlord was not given the opportunity to accept or decline and so the tenancy stood until 4 weeks after the next rent day (under the Prevention of Eviction Act rules).

          This would seem to indicate that the tenants above will be liable for rent as the owner was not given the opportunity to accept or decline.
          Proof that I'm pedantic: it was the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
          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


            #6
            It's a good point, but as the landlord has been to see the tenant, if he wants the tenancy to continue then he would have to return the keys to him/her/them, and specifically state that surrender is not accepted.

            Don't you feel the landlord would be better trying to re-let rather than prolonging a fairly hopeless situation?
            The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

            Comment

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