Question about my friend's forced eviction (he's a lodger)

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    Question about my friend's forced eviction (he's a lodger)

    Hello everyone.

    My friend is a lodger in a place not far from me, and he and his landlady have not seen eye to eye for some time. He's on a 6 month agreement, which ends on the 20th of December.

    He has found another place, and has moved most of his belongings out (everything from his room, though some food etc remains in the fridge).

    However, yesterday I heard that his landlady has forced him to return the keys, on the basis that his belongings have gone, and therefore she feels qualified to decide that he has "moved out" - through threatening that she would have 'no choice' but to change the locks and take the associated costs from his deposit. He handed over his key under duress in order to prevent any further argument or escalation.

    He has paid rent in advance until the end of his agreement.

    When I heard that he was having this trouble, I felt I shouldn't get involved, but at the time I thought he still had his keys. When I found out that he had them taken from him, I went to speak to the landlady about it. This resulted in a 20 minute discussion with her and her boyfriend telling me that they intended to keep the remaining rent, despite it being their decision to break the contract, and their reasoning was that they had previous lodgers that broke things when they moved out, and they wanted to have the keys back before the end of the agreement "for their security". She then started to cry and I said I would go, at which point her boyfriend asked me to leave (pretty redundant, if you ask me).

    Now, this in principle I don't have an issue with (although it is a nonsense because my friend is not her previous tenants, and she is just paranoid) - it is her house, after all. However, she didn't give any notice to quit, and surely, she is responsible for returning the unused rent.

    If she wishes to have her security, that is her decision, but she should pay for it, no? Why should my friend a) pay rent and b) have no keys?

    There was no notice period on either side, the contract was naturally coming to an end, so she cannot claim it was that he didn't give proper notice. In the agreement there is a clause that states that one months' notice must be given in order to end the agreement early, by either party. So she hasn't stuck by her own agreement.

    Where does he stand as far as getting his remaining rent back?

    Thanks.

    #2
    So the long and short of it is that he wants 10 days rent back?

    If so, he can give her a "Letter Before Action" stating that he wants "x" amount of money before he starts proceedings in the County Court for his money back.

    Out of interest, what was he intending to return to the property for?
    Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by thesaint View Post
      So the long and short of it is that he wants 10 days rent back?
      Essentially. But if there's anything else about the story that rings alarm bells, I would like to know, notice period etc. because he is a lodger, I don't know if the notice period is binding or not, even when it is in the agreement.
      Originally posted by thesaint View Post
      If so, he can give her a "Letter Before Action" stating that he wants "x" amount of money before he starts proceedings in the County Court for his money back.
      I have advised him to do this, but the real question is, is he entitled to his money back, in your opinion?

      Unfortunately, despite my multiple attempts to explain to the landlady and boyfriend that she can't have both the rent and the keys, there seemed to be very little actually going into their heads. So I don't expect a letter will work, and I don't want to lead my friend down the wrong route if court is going to throw it out.
      Originally posted by thesaint View Post
      Out of interest, what was he intending to return to the property for?
      It's more about the principle. I don't know that he would have returned at all, except to return the keys on the proper date. I would think he would be entitled to use of the facilities until the end of the term though.

      Also, is this an illegal eviction? Given the contract states one months notice, I am unsure. Thanks

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by 8086 View Post
        He has found another place, and has moved most of his belongings out (everything from his room, though some food etc remains in the fridge).

        However, yesterday I heard that his landlady has forced him to return the keys,
        So your friend voluntarily moved out, and has also moved out all of his belongings, except for a bit of food in the fridge? This isn't 'forced eviction'. No 'alarm bells'.

        In the circumstances, it doesn't seem unreasonable that the LL asked for the keys back. Assuming your friend initially refused to do so, it's not hard to see how the discussion developed into a threat to charge him for the cost of having to change the locks. Given that the two of them aren't on good terms, the LL may have been concerned at why your friend wished to continue to have access to her home when he no longer lives there.

        A claim against the LL could go either way IMO - but it's not your argument and I think you should leave your friend to make his own decisions.

        Comment


          #5
          As a lodger the only notice required is 'reasonable'. This could be minutes or days depending on the circumstances. When you refer to 'illegal eviction' I think you're confusing the rights Tenants have under rental agreements such as an AST, not a Lodger.

          I reiterate the advice from thesaint. Letter before action and then a claim if nothing is forthcoming.

          Assuming there is no provable damage that might be counter claimed then the 10-days rent should be returned. Whether the amount is worth chasing is not for me to say.
          There is always scope for misinterpretation.

          If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

          Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by westminster View Post
            So your friend voluntarily moved out,
            No.
            Originally posted by westminster View Post
            and has also moved out all of his belongings, except for a bit of food in the fridge? This isn't 'forced eviction'. No 'alarm bells'.
            It was her choice to remove his access, not his. She broke the contract, hence forced eviction.
            Originally posted by westminster View Post
            In the circumstances, it doesn't seem unreasonable that the LL asked for the keys back.
            Does it seem reasonable to break the contract and keep his rent when he is unable to access the room and facilities he is paying for?
            Originally posted by westminster View Post
            Assuming your friend initially refused to do so, it's not hard to see how the discussion developed into a threat to charge him for the cost of having to change the locks.
            Of course he refused initially, he has paid them until the 20th. If you pay a painter to paint your house, and he leaves after it's only half done, do you just say "oh well, I guess that's alright, he felt like only doing half of it and keeping my money, must be my problem"?
            Originally posted by westminster View Post
            Given that the two of them aren't on good terms, the LL may have been concerned at why your friend wished to continue to have access to her home when he no longer lives there.
            It's because of her previous lodgers, not him. He's a nice guy, the arguments have been about things like leaving dirty plates out/not hoovering, etc. But leaving that aside, if she can indeed legally break the contract and *choose* to deny him access, based on her *paranoia*, she needs to pay him back.
            Originally posted by westminster View Post
            A claim against the LL could go either way IMO - but it's not your argument and I think you should leave your friend to make his own decisions.
            He is a passive person, but just because he lets people walk over him sometimes doesn't mean they should be allowed to do so. I'm just advising him and finding out what's what. If you wouldn't do the same for your friend that is up to you.

            Originally posted by mk1fan View Post
            As a lodger the only notice required is 'reasonable'. This could be minutes or days depending on the circumstances. When you refer to 'illegal eviction' I think you're confusing the rights Tenants have under rental agreements such as an AST, not a Lodger.
            I suspected this may be the case, however the agreement states that if *either* party wishes to break the agreement early, a months' notice shall be given. She came up with the agreement, not him. Why have the clause there if it is meaningless?
            Originally posted by mk1fan View Post
            I reiterate the advice from thesaint. Letter before action and then a claim if nothing is forthcoming.
            Assuming there is no provable damage that might be counter claimed then the 10-days rent should be returned. Whether the amount is worth chasing is not for me to say.
            There's no damage, he is a good lodger. They just didn't get on personally. 10 days rent for him is about £125, but it may be worth going ahead, even if only for the principle, rather than the money. The landlady and boyfriend have an air of "we'll do as we please" - particularly in regard to the view that as he's paid his rent already, it belongs to them, no matter what they do.

            Comment


              #7
              You said your friend found a new property and moved his stuff out. That sounds like he moved out voluntarily. So no illegal eviction.

              What the debate is about is about whether he should be allowed access for the remainder of the time paid, or given a refund if not.

              The LL not wanting him to have access if he no longer lives there, sounds reasonable. Given that, she could ask for a termination earlier and give a refund. Alternative she can let him carry on his stay until the end of the paid period. Obviously damage is a separate matter.

              I suppose your friend is interested in a refund, cant see why he'd be interested in having access to the property since he has no belongings there. I agree though that she cant have both the earlier termination and the full rent but she can choose to just let him 'stay' for another 10 days
              All views posted reflect my personal opinion only and do not constitute professional advice which I am not qualified or knowledgeable enough to provide.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by 8086 View Post
                It's more about the principle. I don't know that he would have returned at all, except to return the keys on the proper date. I would think he would be entitled to use of the facilities until the end of the term though.
                Originally posted by 8086 View Post
                10 days rent for him is about £125, but it may be worth going ahead, even if only for the principle, rather than the money.
                It would only be about the "principle", as he wasn't intending to get any use out of the £125.00 anyway.
                I'm sure if the landlady had changed the locks, he wouldn't have known. Unless he got the munchies and wanted to get his yoghurts out of the fridge.

                I think it's 75% to 25% in his favour of him getting some money back if he were to go to court.
                He can decide whether it's worth the small fee to do so(If he wins, he can be awarded the court fee back).
                Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by 8086 View Post
                  It was her choice to remove his access, not his. She broke the contract, hence forced eviction.
                  He voluntarily moved out, and he wasn't forced to return the keys; there was an argument and he decided it was better to return the keys to avoid further argument. His decision.

                  You say it's more about the principle than whether your friend did or didn't intend to return to use the facilities, but his intentions are precisely what this is about. Either he did or didn't intend to return.

                  If you look at the situation from a legal POV, what your friend arguably did, by his action of moving out, and moving in to another property, was make an implied offer to surrender his licence. It would be a reasonable interpretation to place upon the facts you've given. What the LL arguably did was accept that offer.

                  (Of course, one might argue that there was no offer due to the presence of a bit of food in the fridge, indicating that your friend fully intended to continue to use the kitchen facilities he had paid for, perhaps returning daily for breakfast).

                  Where rent is paid in advance for a particular period it is deemed to be applicable for any part of that period so that if the tenancy comes to an end during the period no refund is due. So, if your friend did make an implied offer to surrender, no refund would be due.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by MSaxp View Post
                    You said your friend found a new property and moved his stuff out. That sounds like he moved out voluntarily. So no illegal eviction.

                    What the debate is about is about whether he should be allowed access for the remainder of the time paid, or given a refund if not.

                    The LL not wanting him to have access if he no longer lives there, sounds reasonable. Given that, she could ask for a termination earlier and give a refund. Alternative she can let him carry on his stay until the end of the paid period. Obviously damage is a separate matter.

                    I suppose your friend is interested in a refund, cant see why he'd be interested in having access to the property since he has no belongings there. I agree though that she cant have both the earlier termination and the full rent but she can choose to just let him 'stay' for another 10 days
                    My feeling is that asking for the keys back is reasonable enough, but should ultimately be his decision, especially when no refund is forthcoming. I should add that I don't belive that moving belongings out means that the person had moved out. They are free to stay and sleep, or use facilities, surely?

                    Originally posted by thesaint View Post
                    It would only be about the "principle", as he wasn't intending to get any use out of the £125.00 anyway.
                    I'm sure if the landlady had changed the locks, he wouldn't have known. Unless he got the munchies and wanted to get his yoghurts out of the fridge.

                    I think it's 75% to 25% in his favour of him getting some money back if he were to go to court.
                    He can decide whether it's worth the small fee to do so(If he wins, he can be awarded the court fee back).
                    He won't have to pay any fees, since he is a student. I don't see what any speculation re. his needing access really has to do with the contract being broken and his being forced to surrender the keys. He may have wanted to use the washing machine or something, I don't know. He's paid for it, after all.

                    Originally posted by westminster View Post
                    He voluntarily moved out, and he wasn't forced to return the keys; there was an argument and he decided it was better to return the keys to avoid further argument. His decision.
                    It was presented to him as if there was no choice, as his options as given were to either surrender the key, or have the locks changed, rendering the key useless, and having that charged to his deposit.
                    Originally posted by westminster View Post
                    You say it's more about the principle than whether your friend did or didn't intend to return to use the facilities, but his intentions are precisely what this is about. Either he did or didn't intend to return.
                    Whatever his intentions, money has been paid for services not rendered.
                    Originally posted by westminster View Post
                    If you look at the situation from a legal POV, what your friend arguably did, by his action of moving out, and moving in to another property, was make an implied offer to surrender his licence. It would be a reasonable interpretation to place upon the facts you've given. What the LL arguably did was accept that offer.
                    What it was is exactly the opposite. If anything, it was the landlady making an offer to end the contract, and though he didn't feel like he had an option, giving the keys back may be seen as an agreement to do so. However, this still doesn't answer the question of why she should keep the money.
                    Originally posted by westminster View Post
                    (Of course, one might argue that there was no offer due to the presence of a bit of food in the fridge, indicating that your friend fully intended to continue to use the kitchen facilities he had paid for, perhaps returning daily for breakfast).
                    Again, he didn't offer the keys, his hand was forced with threats to deduct from his deposit and leave him locked out regardless. How that can be perceived as any kind of offer is beyond me.
                    Originally posted by westminster View Post
                    Where rent is paid in advance for a particular period it is deemed to be applicable for any part of that period so that if the tenancy comes to an end during the period no refund is due.
                    It is if the landlord is the one to end the contract early. They have the option of letting it run, and keeping the money, or ending it and refunding the money. Seems pretty simple to me.
                    Originally posted by westminster View Post
                    So, if your friend did make an implied offer to surrender, no refund would be due.
                    If he did, perhaps, but he didn't.
                    The landlady quit the contract early, the penalty should be on her.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      So it seems you have made up your mind that she illegally forced him out and he is entitled to a refund. In that sense, what is it that you are hoping to gain from asking for advice? You dont agree with any of the advice given (which is fair, of course), so your next step should be to draft a letter before action and then sue the LL and let the judge decide.
                      All views posted reflect my personal opinion only and do not constitute professional advice which I am not qualified or knowledgeable enough to provide.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by MSaxp View Post
                        So it seems you have made up your mind that she illegally forced him out and he is entitled to a refund. In that sense, what is it that you are hoping to gain from asking for advice? You dont agree with any of the advice given (which is fair, of course), so your next step should be to draft a letter before action and then sue the LL and let the judge decide.
                        I agree with some of the advice.

                        I expected better responses for some reason than "he moved his stuff out so that's him moved out and he isn't entitled to a refund".

                        I guess I know where certain members loyalties lie now - and I hope to God I am never a tenant of theirs.

                        I am keen to know what the procedure is after writing this letter, and whether it's any different than say, an AST holder? Is it the same process of sending forms to the money claims centre?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by 8086 View Post

                          I guess I know where certain members loyalties lie now - and I hope to God I am never a tenant of theirs.

                          I am keen to know what the procedure is after writing this letter, and whether it's any different than say, an AST holder?
                          That's a rather insulting statement to make to people that spend many hours giving free advice. This site is impartial, it always has been, to tenants and landlords alike.

                          Before you start claiming partisanship perhaps you could spend a few months/years actually reading the forum.
                          I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I agree. Just because you don't like the answers given doesn't mean they are wrong or prejudiced.

                            If you had actually spent anytime here contributing to the forum you'd see that we [the forum] regularily 'berate' landlords for bad behaviour as well as tenants.
                            There is always scope for misinterpretation.

                            If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

                            Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I think the OP may be misunderstanding the main issue here - that the friend is a LODGER, not a TENANT, and therefore there is very little legislation coveirng the rights and wrongs surrounding their tenure in the property.

                              Illegal eviction is something fully governed by tenancy legislation and treated very severely by courts in the case of tenants, who rent sole or joint possession of a property without a resident LL also living there. When you are a lodger, there are fewer rules and regulations, and the LL allowing them use of the room within their home has much more freedom to end the agreement and kick them out with minimal notice.

                              Your friend "may" have a case to claim back a few days rent, but claiming illegal eviction is not an issue here, and I doubt any compensation would be forthcoming, so perhaps best to drop that term and concentrate on an attempt to get the overpaid rent back, but even here, I wouldn't hold my breath!


                              By the way, accusations about where member's loyalties lie, is totally unfair to those here with much more knowledge and understanding of this subject who have given you valid advice. Just because you may not agree with that advice, does not mean it is wrong!

                              Comment

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