Lodger backed out at last minute - must rent in advance be returned?

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    Lodger backed out at last minute - must rent in advance be returned?

    Hello there,

    I advertised for a lodger last November, but only had two interested parties. Both said they were interested to move in on the 1st of December. I let the shift worker go prematurely, and then the other one said he wasn't sure after all. I take the blame for this obviously.

    The one who said he wasn't sure then came back and said he was definitely interested, but for the 15th of December. We arranged for him to come round, but when he arrived, he said he didn't want to move in until the 1st of January, that he was sorry for having messed me about, but was happy to pay one month's rent in advance as proof he was serious. He also asked for the ad to be taken off the website.

    I agreed, as I had no one else interested, and I really needed an immediate income. After this visit, I sent a confirmation e-mail confirming receipt of the cheque as one month's rent in advance for January and that I agreed to take the ad off the website. I also confirmed I agreed to provide an additional fridge freezer for January, as the one I had was admittedly quite small for two people.

    Over the next couple of weeks, I allowed him to move in his belongings. He also made a lot of additional requests, most of which I complied with, except for some, which were ridiculous, such as telling me I had a legal obligation to install a second loo for him!.

    It was by this point clear to me he was an exceptionally difficult young man (he was only moving out of home for the first time at 36 because his mother was throwing him out), but I bore with it as I really needed the income and he only wanted a three month contract initially.

    On the 29th of December, he came to visit and started to throw his weight around that the fridge freezer wasn't there, even though it was clearly stated in the e-mail that I would provide it for the beginning of January. After forty minutes of discussion and him threatening to pull out, I agreed to go out and get one delivered the same day, which I did, at extra expense compared to the one I had on order for delivery on the 31st.

    He then threatened to pull out on account of the curtains not being up.

    I put the curtains up, but by this point my bad temper was showing through.

    He then pulled out on the grounds that I was an unreasonable person and he couldn't be expected to share with me.

    His mother came round and tried to negotiate. I might have conceded to give him half the money back just to get rid of the situation had he not lied by saying we had agreed that I wouldn't cash the cheque until January. In fact, the cheque he gave me on the 6th was postdated until the 12th of December, at his request, so he could be sure he had money to cover it, so it was always clear when it would be cashed.

    He has taken me to the County Court and won. I have to pay him half the money back plus his court fee. The reason the judge says I only have to pay him half back is due to the time-stamped photographic evidence of the amount of belongings he had moved in from mid-Decemeber onwards. However, the judge says the rent in advance is not applicable because the contract never commenced since he pulled out on the 29th.

    I don't understand this. If the judge is saying he owes me rent for half of December, then surely a de facto contract had already commenced?

    I'm sorry this is so long-winded, but I'm really, really upset about this. I can't believe he can mess me around to that extent, lie, and still get away with it, and I get a CCJ. There are many other incidences of his lying and bullying behaviour, but, unfortunately, I know judges don't really care about perjury.

    Any advice at all would be massively appreciated. Are there any grounds on which I can challenge the ruling? And, if not, is there any way I can pay but not have a CCJ. It seems hugely unjust that you either have to pay up or risk a CCJ, since I really don't think this was a predictable outcome for a first time landlord.

    #2
    He has taken me to the County Court and won.
    If he has been awarded a sum then pay it and get a certificate of satisfaction, do it within the 28 day time limit and there can be no CCJ.



    @other members, I have a strong feeling this would be lodger might be the same guy that we had to teach to pee last year, sounds just like his behaviour. ...
    I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

    Comment


      #3
      jta is right, obtain a certificate of satisfaction and there will be no CCJ on your file. It costs £15 though.

      With regard to the contract issue - I am guessing the judge agreed that there was a contract, and that the lodger breached it. However, as rent was not due at that point, you had an obligation to mitigate the loss and I'm guessing the amount awarded reflects the difference between what you kept and what the judge thought your losses would reasonably have been.

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for this. It did seem a bit extreme to get a CCJ over what was, at worst, a genuine misunderstanding of the law that is hardly self-evident.

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks for commenting.

          With respect to mitigating losses, the lodger pulled out on the 29th of December and I immediately readvertised. I found a new lodger for the 24th of January. I don't think, given that I don't live in the most desirable area, it would have been reasonable to expect me to find someone faster than that. I removed the advert from the website on the 6th of December at the prospective lodger's request, I therefore lost almost two months' rent.

          I think the judge awarded me half a month's rent for the time the prospective lodger actually had his belongings stored in the room (and throughout the house)i.e. physically made the room unavailable for anyone else though he had not yet moved in (even if he did treat it like a drop-in centre).

          I also forgot to mention that, in the e-mail where I confirmed receipt of the cheque of one month's rent in advance (6th of December), I make it clear that this is non-refundable in exchange for removing the advertisement from the website i.e. reserving the room.

          It all seems wildly unjust to me, but thanks for your feedback. I guess I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and pay it, as I can't afford to risk getting a CCJ...

          Comment


            #6
            In case anyone is still following this...

            I've received the written judgment. No reasons given at all. Just an order to pay, and there is no 28 period to pay, it's "forthwith".

            Does this strike anyone as unnecessarily harsh, given I presented evidence to show I only took in the lodger due to being in financial difficulties, having lost my job? I've been supply teaching while I look for something permanent, but that obviously dries up over the summer.

            It seems severe to me to order a payment forthwith to someone who has made it clear they'll have difficulty paying?

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by SamB View Post
              In case anyone is still following this...

              I've received the written judgment. No reasons given at all. Just an order to pay, and there is no 28 period to pay, it's "forthwith".

              Does this strike anyone as unnecessarily harsh, given I presented evidence to show I only took in the lodger due to being in financial difficulties, having lost my job? I've been supply teaching while I look for something permanent, but that obviously dries up over the summer.

              It seems severe to me to order a payment forthwith to someone who has made it clear they'll have difficulty paying?
              Whether they say 'forthwith' or 'in 28 days' it doesn't affect your right to request a certificate of satisfaction if you pay within 4 weeks of the hearing.

              Comment

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