live in landlord with problem tenant( lodger)

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    live in landlord with problem tenant( lodger)

    Hi

    Need some advice, this is the situation.
    I rent out a room in my house, before xmas the lodger had their brother stay for a few weeks on the couch, i said it was fine for a week or so. he stayed 2 months and the couch which is leather is completely ruined and needs to be replaced. I took the issue up with the lodger who said its not her problem its between me and her brother! I initally said ok ill chase it up with him and he told me to F-Off and threatened me.
    I told her I wasn't happy with this. She has since left and is now demanding her 'bond' back. There was never a tenancy agreement signed by either of us. she paid rent plus 500 at the beginning as a deposit/ bond but without any agency used. I paid her back the rent she had paid for the month but now she is sending me letters saying she is going to take me to a small claims court because i've not paid back her bond! She only left 1 week ago. Her bond was 500. the cost of replacing the couch is £900 and she also owes me £160 in unpaid bills. she is saying she wants full copies of these bills etc.
    I don't see where she has a leg to stand on here but don't want any hassle of courts.. I'm on quite a low wage and only rent out the room to cover my mortgage.. Is there anything she can do or am I within my rights to not pay her the 500 back and ignore her threats?

    #2
    I don't know of specific legislation relating to this (not my field of expertise) but it would seem to me that if you can evidence the unpaid bills and prove the damage to the sofa then it's likely to go your way. In a hearing where neither party has evidence either way (you broke the first rule of landlording - document everything) the judge will consider the arguments and decide on the most likely truth (sometimes refered to as a Newton Hearing).
    In terms of a summons to court for you, very few 'angry' tenants actually resort to court. Often they spout off because they know they're in the wrong and have been caught! If you do get summoned, just be well prepared with your defense and let justice happen.
    I may be a housing professional but my views, thoughts, opinions, advice, criticisms or otherwise on this board are mine and are not representative of my company, colleagues, managers. I am here as an independent human being who simply wants to learn new stuff, share ideas and interact with like minded people.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by hall4 View Post
      She only left 1 week ago. Her bond was 500. the cost of replacing the couch is £900 and she also owes me £160 in unpaid bills. she is saying she wants full copies of these bills etc.
      I don't see where she has a leg to stand on here but don't want any hassle of courts.. I'm on quite a low wage and only rent out the room to cover my mortgage.. Is there anything she can do or am I within my rights to not pay her the 500 back and ignore her threats?
      You should send copies of the bills, and evidence of the value of the sofa, with a break-down of the amounts you are withholding up to the value of £500, and why.

      Note that, whoever is liable for the damage you would not be entitled to the full replacement cost for the sofa, just a portion, because a used sofa is not worth as much as a new one. You work it out based on the expected life-span of the sofa. If, say, you'd normally expect it to last 20 years before requiring replacement due to everyday wear and tear, and the sofa was 5 years old at the time it was ruined, you'd be entitled to around 75% of the replacement cost.

      Needless to say, from now on keep copies of all correspondence (and written, dated notes of any phone conversation).

      If the lodger does bring a claim against you, you'll have to counterclaim for the bills/damage; this is very important - you don't just deny her claim, you must counterclaim as part of your defence. (Ask again on here if you need help with it).

      It'll help to have the copy correspondence and notes of phone conversations as evidence, and assuming you don't have any evidence of the original, undamaged condition of the sofa (such as an inventory check-in, or receipt if it was nearly new) it would help if you had some form of acknowledgment from the lodger that her brother damaged the sofa.

      I would say something in the letter to the lodger to the effect that the damage to the sofa was, as she knows, caused by her brother sleeping on it for two months, after you'd said he could stay only for a week or so and that you are holding her liable - if she doesn't write back denying it, then it's better than nothing, and she might even write back partly admitting it, e.g. saying "I know my brother trashed the sofa, but it's not my fault, it's his fault".

      Remember, the absolute worst that could happen if you lose is that you'll be ordered to pay the lodger £500 and some court fees (which are kept very low in the small claims track). If you pay off the judgment within, I think, 28 days, and obtain a certificate of satisfaction from the court, the CCJ will not affect your credit record. So, anyway, don't spend that £500 yet...

      Finally, note that you could have evicted the brother very easily, as he had no right to occupy the house except with your consent.

      See this website for lots of useful information on letting to lodgers.
      http://www.lodgerlandlord.co.uk/

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for your replies. So does it make any difference that there was never any tenancy agreement or contracts signed?
        I'm a very reasonable person and don't want to do anyone out of money but also don't want to be stuck footing reparation bills for damage they did. Also the wardrobe was damaged and carpet badly soiled. Can I charge her for this even without photo evidence? I know they don't have evidence on the contrary.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by hall4 View Post
          Thanks for your replies. So does it make any difference that there was never any tenancy agreement or contracts signed?
          It doesn't make any difference in terms of the validity of the contract you and the lodger agreed, i.e. you agreed to let her stay in your home, and she agreed to pay you rent in exchange. A verbal contract in these circumstances is as valid/binding as a written one. But things can be trickier if you don't have a written contract detailing other specifics, such as who is liable if the lodger has a guest to stay etc - usually a tenancy contract will say T liable for actions by their guests. (Note also that your lodger wasn't a 'tenant', but a licencee).

          I'm a very reasonable person and don't want to do anyone out of money but also don't want to be stuck footing reparation bills for damage they did. Also the wardrobe was damaged and carpet badly soiled. Can I charge her for this even without photo evidence? I know they don't have evidence on the contrary.
          When you claim for the cost of damage/repairs against a tenant or lodger, the burden of proof is upon the claimant or counter-claimant (i.e. you, the LL). So if the tenant or lodger argues that there was no damage, you're the one who needs to convince the court that what you're alleging is true, and this means submitting evidence to the court. Evidence comes in many forms: inventory/condition reports (ideally), letters, emails, notes of phones calls, photos, receipts, etc, and it also includes witness statements, i.e. what you (or someone else) tells the court.

          The civil court judges a case on a 'balance of probabilities'. This means that your case must convince the court that you're at least 51% more likely to be telling the truth, based on the evidence. Ideally, you have before and after inventory reports (i.e. strong evidence) but it's still possible to win based on less strong evidence, especially if you come across as an honest, reasonable person, both on paper and in person, i.e. the court is more likely to believe what you say.

          I don't think that, in your position, without 'strong' evidence, that I'd start a claim against the lodger. I would wait and see whether she claims against you (because, quite possibly, she won't - but she has six years at least in which to do so). And if she does, I'd defend it with a counterclaim. I'd also make sure that I'd sent at least two or three letters to the lodger clearly detailing the reasons for withholding the deposit.

          Alongside the advisability of keeping written records/creating a paper trail, one principle you should abide by is to behave reasonably at all times; bear this in mind whenever you write to or have contact with the lodger, because your actions/reasonableness may be examined in court - and the court frowns upon unreasonableness. You say you are a reasonable person, and from what you've told us I believe you - so there is a fair chance the court will believe you, too. But you can't count on it, which is why I wouldn't advise starting a claim against the lodger.

          Having said all that, if you want a quiet life, just return the deposit to the lodger and move on. A court case will take at least six months from start to finish and, although I personally think it's a good learning experience, you may prefer to defer the learning, accept that you made a few mistakes, accept your losses, and do things better with the next lodger.

          P.S. if you do end up in court, buy or borrow from the library a book on the small claims procedure.

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