Eviction and maintenance problems

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  • Moderator2
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    Threads relating to the same tenancy have been merged.

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  • midlandgal
    replied
    Eviction and maintenance problems

    Hi

    I posted last year when we were having a nightmare with our letting agent and non-paying tenant. To cut a long story short we got rid of the letting agent 5 months into the tenancy as we found them too incompetent. The main issues were that they never reference checked our tenant (she was evicted from her previous property which was military accommodation we found out recently) but they told us she moved due to the landlord wanting to sell the house. We stated we did not want pets yet her application form says she has a dog, we stated we only wanted professional working tenants yet her application for states she is on benefits. They also contacted the guarantor at the address he had listed as previous rather than his current one and therefore he knew nothing about the debts until they had got to an unmanageable amount. There were lots more issues but those were the ones that we have proof of.

    Anyway, we sent a Section 8 to the tenant at the end of July of last year. Her guarantor was then in touch and asked if we could give him time to pay. The Housing Benefit that she had been claiming and keeping had just been set up to be paid directly to us (thanks to a lovely member here who gave me the advice that we could do that!) so as we were getting at least part of the rent at this stage we agreed to hold off until the guarantor returned back from serving in Afghanistan which would be at the end of September. He got back, wanted time to to check out that the arrears were owed – then demanded that we re-instated the letting agent because he had no idea if our figures were credible, he then stopped responding to us and we heard nothing at all.

    We decided to take action for the Section 8 and simultaneously take action against to guarantor to get back what we owed which was around £5k at this point (about £7k now) with the view to making a second claim against him once final figures were calculated once she is evicted and we’ve got a total for legal fees etc.

    The tenant was in court on the 24th January, she tried to tell the judge that the house had damp, leaking windows etc and that since we’d left the letting agent (last July) she’d not been able to contact us as she had no contact details – the judge did not believe this as he had the Section 8 in front of him and a number of letters that we'd sent her, all having our full contact info on. She was given a possession order to leave the house on/by the 21st February, he refused to give her 6 weeks as she requested and gave her 4. The guarantor now appears willing to settle the financial aspect so at the moment all seemed to be going well....

    Until we got a letter from the council stating that 3 days before her court case she got in touch with them and raised a number of issues (conveniently just before her court case!). The letter said that the house had mould/damp all over, rotten skirting boards, dodgy door handles, that there was no smoke detector (there was when she moved in), that the windows leaked, that the heating wasn’t working (perhaps if she’d responded to our requests to be in touch so we could have the annual boiler/heating service carried out that we’d already paid for then the heating would be fine!) She also said that there had been no gas safety annual check carried out (despite that the letting agent forwarded us the certificate and she obviously gave the gas access to do it!).

    Now some of those are ridiculous and not true at all – however we have no idea if there is damp/mould/leaking windows etc – all we know is that the house was fully renovated 6 months before she moved in, skirting boards replaced, door handles replaced, all new carpeting, full decoration etc and are rather concerned how it could have got into the state that she believes that it’s in over a period of less than a year.

    I contacted the council and to be honest he was quite aggressive. He had already decided that our tenant was in the right, that she hadn’t contacted us because she didn’t have our contact details (they were on the Section 8 obviously and all letters we sent her). How contacting them was a last resort to get the problems sorted (even though she knows she’s only got a matter of weeks at the most living there?!) He couldn’t see that it was a coincidence that she only complained about these things 3 days before her court case and said that it was more likely that the weather became colder and the problem with the heating became an urgent issue?! He told me how cold it is and it can’t be nice for her to be living with heating problems (I have a solution – she can move out!!)

    Crazy really. The problem that I have is.... the council guy is going to contact her in 28 days, this works out to be the 22nd February (the day after the court has ordered her to leave). He said that she may well not leave (which we are aware of) and he seemed to be saying that if when he contacts her we’ve not carried out the work that they will then have to get involved – even though she shouldn’t even be living there?

    He asked if I could contact the tenant to try and resolve these issues and come to a mutual agreement?!

    And are we really liable to go in and make our house more ‘comfortable’ for her when she shouldn’t even be there anyway?! How are we supposed to be able to afford that when we are currently £7k out of pocket, have have legal fees to pay (for 2 cases) and the mortgage in 2 weeks time for a house that she's living in for free (well half free with the HA we now get). How long would we get to do the repairs in?

    It all seems like madness to me. I fully expected the council guy to just ask for the gas certificate to prove that we have one – and as by the time the 28 days are up she ‘should’ have left anyway – that we could then go in assess the house when it was empty.

    We were told at her court case that the bailiffs would evict her approximately 2 weeks after the 21st Feb if she’d not left. Our solicitor said that it’s possible (highly likely I’d expect) that she will apply for a Stay of Eviction. Would she have any grounds to do this on? Would the fact that the judge declined her request for 6 weeks to leave and gave her just 4 go in our favour? I guess that I am worried now that this whole getting the council involved will cause us problems/delays in getting her out.

    Has anyone else had this problem?

    Many many thanks for anyone who can give me any advice at all, I so much appreciate it

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  • midlandgal
    replied
    Thank you Snorkerz

    So it's probably best to issue a Section 21 as well, have everything covered that way?

    I'm sorry, I'm a little clueless at all of this hence using a suposedly reputable letting agent - who we have since sacked. The Deed of guarantee was dealt with by them, it's signed and witnessed by someone working for the letting agent so I'm assuming that it's all ok?

    I'm thinking that if the arrears aren't paid in the next couple of weeks then applying to court for eviction using the Section 8, hopefully we could have a court date in January and hope she'd be evicted shortly after but if the arrears are paid and discretionary grounds 10 and 11 can't be used - the Section 21 will come into play in February so back to court again?

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  • Snorkerz
    replied
    You can issue a s21 to run aprallel with the s8, but a s21 will not guarantee the tenant will leave on 16 February, like a setion 8 it requires a court order handled by court bailiffs to involuntarily evict someone.

    If you issue a section 8 on grounds 8, 10 & 11 and the tenant does manage to get the rent below the magic 2 months, you still have the discretionary grounds 10 & 11. These may still be sufficient with a history of poor payment.

    I wouldn't sue the tenant and guarantor (jointly) until you know the actual amount owed, to sue twice just doubles all your costs.

    Was the deed of guarantee witnessed and executed as a deed?

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  • midlandgal
    replied
    Section 21 help please?!

    Hi I had some wonderful help and advice from this forum a while back. http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums...nt-and-tenants Basically our tenant was in arrears (and still is). We issued a Section 8 in July but left it at that as the guarantor (her ex husband) promised to pay the arrears once he got back from duty in Afghanistan. In the meantime after advice given on here we contacted Housing Benefit and got the benefit paid direct to ourselves although there is a shortfall of £250 a month which is adding to the existing arrears – these arrears now stand at the equivalent of over 5 months.

    The guarantor has not paid and we are now about to take him to the small claims court for this money and have been in touch with his HR department at the military who are assisting us.

    What I need advice on is..... the tenancy was a year one signed on the 17th February and clearly I want to do everything possible to make sure that she leaves on this date. I believe that I can enforce the Section 8, but my concern is that the guarantor will pay the arrears so that there are less than 2 months. Can I issue a Section 21 even though the Section 8 is still existing?

    Also, is it best to take the guarantor to court now to get the arrears – although they will be more once she moves out (another £500 from the shortfall assuming that she leaves on the 17th Feb – plus there is damage to the house which he is also responsible for if the bond does not cover this). I would then have to take him to court twice?

    Thanks in advance

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  • JK0
    replied
    FWIW, I always pursue the guarantor while the tenant is in occupation. I always think they may be likelier to pay then, than after the tenant has left, when they have nothing to lose by going to court and arguing about it.

    (As I said, if guarantee is not by way of a deed, the judge will not award you anything anyway.)

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  • midlandgal
    replied
    I think I'll do that James, I'll just wait to see if she'll move out within the 14 days of the S8 and then at least I'll know that it's the final amount that I'm taking the guarantor to court for. Like you say just the threat of it could be enough. I think being in the military that it could be taken directly from his wages anyway?

    I'm a little worried about the bond at the minute. The tenant used some forces/services bond and not real cash as such. As we've never been sent a copy of the contract (let alone sign it) then I've no idea where the bond is. I've asked the agent for it but as expected it's never arrived!

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  • JK0
    replied
    Originally posted by midlandgal View Post

    James do you mean a county court claim for the money eg the smalls claims court?
    Yes, that's what I use.

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  • midlandgal
    replied
    Thanks islandgirl and James. I've got an S8 written up and ready to post tomorrow after spending hours reading up on this wonderful forum on how to do one correctly. I think that once this tenant is out I'll give it a go to rent it out without an agent, not like I can do a worse job really!

    Do I send the guarantor a copy of the S8 notice? I've no idea if he even knows that the tenant (his soon to be ex wife) hasn't been paying the rent, he's had letters sent to him but I heard that being in the military that he's working away at the minute.

    James do you mean a county court claim for the money eg the smalls claims court?

    Thanks for all the help, it's really appreciated

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  • JK0
    replied
    I wonder if it is worth issuing a county court claim against the guarantor? Okay, you may not persuade a judge to rule in your favour, but receiving it may persuade the guarantor to pay up without going to court.

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  • islandgirl
    replied
    Just take up the reins yourself, issue a S8 right away and get it sorted - tell the agent to get lost! Good luck - if you need advice through the process just come here. Bad news is that the Council will wait until Baliffs come to rehouse (if they rehouse at all) so you are looking at 3 months plus for possession...

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  • midlandgal
    replied
    Ha, badly worded but it was late when I wrote that!

    Thanks for the reply though, we'd never considered doing that but we'll definitely call them and tell them we want it cancelling immediately. The list of things that they've done/not done is endless from day one really, fortunately I've listed it all as it's happened and have 2 pages of complaints now!

    Thank you

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  • PaulF
    replied
    Originally posted by midlandgal View Post
    We now find out that the tenant has a dog and is on benefits.
    A dog on benefits? That's a new one!

    Seriously though your agent has a duty of care towards you and if they have failed you which seems likely, then you could cancel your contract with them immediately and say "see you in court" if they make unpleasant noises.

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  • midlandgal
    replied
    Thanks James but the letter that the letting agent recently sent threatening court acction/eviction if the arrears weren't paid was also sent to the guarantor.

    I'm unsure if to whether the guarantor is a homeowner, he lives in military accomodation which I guess means that it's not as easy for him to just 'disappear'.

    Does anyone know what is best to do about the letting agent. When I last spoke to them they said we have to give 2 months notice to terminate our contract with them. If we do that and then find another tenant ourselves what are the implications if we find a tenant within the 2 months period? Will they also give us our certificates back, gas etc before the 2 months is up?

    Thank you

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  • JK0
    replied
    There is no point in suing the tenant. Just write a letter to the guarantor threatening court. Beware, they may try to wriggle out of paying if the guarantee was not in the form of a deed, but it's worth a try.

    Leave a comment:

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