Lodger taking me to court

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    Lodger taking me to court

    Hi,

    I am new to this forum and will appreciate ur advice.
    I took in a friend/lodger approximately a year ago and he has only paid me utilities bill about 3 times since moving in and we have no contract in place.

    We have not been getting along for a couple of months and bout two weeks ago, I lost my keys and when I took his keys to go and cut, I was physically assaulted. The police were called and it was agreed on condition that I will not press charges that he will leave the property and come back after 3days to collect his belongings.He retained the keys to his room and the key to the front entrance was collected from him and given to me, furthermore on the day, he kept saying he is a tenant and I have no right to evict him.

    On the day he came to collect his belongings, I called the police and on coming in, he advise the police that he only came to take some of his stuff as he is seeking legal advice but will return the following week. I was advised to serve a Tort notice that entry will be forced into the room and his belongings will be placed in a commercial storage unit which I did and giving him an extra 14days to remove his belonging.

    Yesterday, I received an email from his solicitor that I am in breach of the protection from eviction act 1977 and that I should make arrangements to return the keys by recorded delivery to their office.

    I have become a nervous wreck since this started and I do nothink I can afford solicitor fees right now, therefore I will appreciate advice on how to deal with this and should I also press assault charges.

    Thanks in advance.

    Adell

    #2
    If this person shared any facilities (kitchen / bathroom) You are not in breach of the Protection from Eviction Act. If you can confirm he did share, I'll tell you why you're okay.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Adell View Post
      The police were called and it was agreed on condition that I will not press charges that he will leave the property and come back after 3days to collect his belongings.He retained the keys to his room and the key to the front entrance was collected from him and given to me, furthermore on the day, he kept saying he is a tenant and I have no right to evict him.
      Was there ever any verbal agreement for this 'friend' to pay you rent every week or month? Or was it just agreed that he would contribute to bills?

      Assuming there was an agreement to pay rent, and *if* you shared any accommodation with him, such as a kitchen, or bathroom, or living room, then his tenancy or licence was 'excluded' under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. This means you don't need a court order to evict, and need only give 'reasonable' notice. Very, very short notice is reasonable if he has physically assaulted you in your own home.

      I don't quite understand what you mean by not 'pressing charges' as it is not your decision, but the police's, as to how to proceed. I would ask the police to formally charge this man for assault.

      Yesterday, I received an email from his solicitor that I am in breach of the protection from eviction act 1977 and that I should make arrangements to return the keys by recorded delivery to their office.
      An email from a solicitor is just an email. It does not automatically follow that the lodger is taking you to court.

      Comment


        #4
        Agree with all the above, but on the comment regarding that the decision to arrest/charge him with assault could be made by the Police, it would only be taken out of the hands of the AP when that person was unfit to make the decision themselves (ie suffering severe DV or vulnerable due to age or mental health) other than that the Police would also need the co-operation of the victim, without this, the CPS would not give consent to the Police to charge.... if i had been you i would have wanted him charged and co-operated with the Police by giving a statement, i think you have missed a trick here. The solicitors email is just a bluff, they all do it.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Hudson01 View Post
          ...other than that the Police would also need the co-operation of the victim, without this, the CPS would not give consent to the Police to charge....
          AIUI, domestic violence victims often refuse to give evidence against the assaulting partner because they're too scared (or they convince themselves that 'he's really sorry and won't do it again'), but for obvious reasons the policy is to proceed to prosecution and compel the witness to give evidence.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by westminster View Post
            AIUI, domestic violence victims often refuse to give evidence against the assaulting partner because they're too scared (or they convince themselves that 'he's really sorry and won't do it again'), but for obvious reasons the policy is to proceed to prosecution and compel the witness to give evidence.
            Some areas have a positive arrest policy when it comes to DV. Always arrest and try to prosecute even if the victim doesn't press charges. However this is not a nation-wide policy, and it varies depending on where you are.

            Comment


              #7
              Many thanks for ur response. There is no verbal agreement between myself and the lodger. It was originally a favour till he finds an accomodation but after 4months and he was making himself conforatble, i told him he needs to start contributing towards the flat upkeep. He has paid me three times by cheque £300,£200, £100 and the cheque for £200 which was stopped in January. The letter received from the solicitors states -
              "We are instructed that on Saturday, 9th March 2013 you attempted to evict Mr A from
              his room at ****, which he rents from you. When the police came to the flat,
              they arranged a temporary compromise, whereby Mr A retained the keys to his room
              and you retained the keys to the flat. You were instructed by the police not to enter Mr
              A’s room or interfere with his possessions, as to do so would constitute trespass and
              burglary.
              We understand that on 19th March 2013, you made a further threat to force entry into Mr
              A’s room, with a view to removing his possessions into commercial storage.
              We have advised Mr A that he is a residential occupier of the flat within the meaning of
              the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and that the only lawful means of eviction is by way of
              court order. The law is perfectly clear: if you evict or attempt to evict Mr A without a
              court order you will commit a criminal offence under the 1977 Act and will be liable to
              prosecution. The maximum penalty for breach of this Act is two years’ imprisonment, an
              unlimited fine or both.
              The civil courts also have power to grant an immediate injunction to force you to re-admit an
              evicted occupier and to restrain further harassment or eviction. Substantial compensation
              may be awarded against you for the unlawful eviction of Mr A.
              In order to resolve this situation, we require your written promises that:
              1. you will take no action to force entry into Mr A’s room and you will not interfere
              with his possessions in any way;
              2. you will provide Mr A with a set of keys to the flat, so that his current exclusion
              (in effect, his unlawful eviction) can be brought to an end;
              3. you will confirm to us the arrangements for Mr A to collect the keys to the flat
              from you; alternatively, you will post them to us by special delivery, to arrive here no
              later than 4pm on Tuesday, 26th March 2013; and
              4. once Mr A has regained access to the flat, you will not harass him in any way or
              attempt to evict him again.
              Unless we receive your written promises to this effect by 4pm on Monday, 25 March 2013,
              court proceedings may be started against you without further notice, seeking an immediate
              injunction and compensation.
              If you are in any doubt about the meaning or effect of this letter, you should seek immediate
              legal advice.
              Naturally, we reserve the right to show this letter to the court on the question of costs, if you
              fail to respond to it and proceedings become necessary.
              We look forward to hearing from you.

              Comment


                #8
                If the friend is a lodger, you only have to give him reasonable notice, the solicitor is talking out of his posterior. Change the locks and refuse entry to the unwanted lodger.
                I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Adell View Post
                  Many thanks for ur response. There is no verbal agreement between myself and the lodger. It was originally a favour till he finds an accomodation but after 4months and he was making himself conforatble, i told him he needs to start contributing towards the flat upkeep. He has paid me three times by cheque £300,£200, £100 and the cheque for £200 which was stopped in January.
                  Then the lodger is not even a lodger, he is just a guest who you reasonably asked to contribute to a few household expenses after he had overstayed his welcome.

                  I will draft an example of the sort of letter you should send to solicitor in reply.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by westminster View Post
                    I will draft an example of the sort of letter you should send to solicitor in reply.
                    Personally I would not even reply or otherwise acknowledge having received that email. Since when solicitors make initial contact via email?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by jjlandlord View Post
                      Personally I would not even reply or otherwise acknowledge having received that email. Since when [do] solicitors make initial contact via email?
                      I had the same thought, but it does read as coming from a solicitor, and they ask for keys to be sent to what are presumably bona fide offices of the firm.

                      If it's a scam email from one of this bloke's 'mates', there's no harm in replying (refusing keys). If it's a genuine solicitor email, then OP ought to reply. No?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Adell View Post
                        The letter received from the solicitors states -
                        "We are instructed that on Saturday, 9th March 2013 you attempted to evict Mr A from
                        his room at ****, which he rents from you. When the police came to the flat,
                        they arranged a temporary compromise, whereby Mr A retained the keys to his room
                        and you retained the keys to the flat. You were instructed by the police not to enter Mr
                        A’s room or interfere with his possessions, as to do so would constitute trespass and
                        burglary.
                        We understand that on 19th March 2013, you made a further threat to force entry into Mr
                        A’s room, with a view to removing his possessions into commercial storage.
                        We have advised Mr A that he is a residential occupier of the flat within the meaning of
                        the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and that the only lawful means of eviction is by way of
                        court order. The law is perfectly clear: if you evict or attempt to evict Mr A without a
                        court order you will commit a criminal offence under the 1977 Act and will be liable to
                        prosecution. The maximum penalty for breach of this Act is two years’ imprisonment, an
                        unlimited fine or both.
                        The civil courts also have power to grant an immediate injunction to force you to re-admit an
                        evicted occupier and to restrain further harassment or eviction. Substantial compensation
                        may be awarded against you for the unlawful eviction of Mr A.
                        In order to resolve this situation, we require your written promises that:
                        1. you will take no action to force entry into Mr A’s room and you will not interfere
                        with his possessions in any way;
                        2. you will provide Mr A with a set of keys to the flat, so that his current exclusion
                        (in effect, his unlawful eviction) can be brought to an end;
                        3. you will confirm to us the arrangements for Mr A to collect the keys to the flat
                        from you; alternatively, you will post them to us by special delivery, to arrive here no
                        later than 4pm on Tuesday, 26th March 2013; and
                        4. once Mr A has regained access to the flat, you will not harass him in any way or
                        attempt to evict him again.
                        Unless we receive your written promises to this effect by 4pm on Monday, 25 March 2013,
                        court proceedings may be started against you without further notice, seeking an immediate
                        injunction and compensation.
                        If you are in any doubt about the meaning or effect of this letter, you should seek immediate
                        legal advice.
                        Naturally, we reserve the right to show this letter to the court on the question of costs, if you
                        fail to respond to it and proceedings become necessary.
                        We look forward to hearing from you.
                        I believe the correct response would be to refer him to the reply given in Arkell v. Pressdram (1971).

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by hamilton View Post
                          I believe the correct response would be to refer him to the reply given in Arkell v. Pressdram (1971).
                          I would agree, but it is probably better to demonstrate reasonableness when you don't have a team of lawyers or funds to back up such a punchy response. So, I'd suggest:


                          Dear Mr Solicitor,

                          I acknowledge receipt of your email dated [date]. It would appear that your client has misinformed you as to the facts of the situation.

                          Your client does not and did not at any time, as you allege, 'rent' a room. Mr A moved in on [date] at my invitation, and as my guest. I did this as a favour to a friend, as he said he was temporarily without accommodation. There was no agreement to pay rent, nor did I grant him exclusive possession of any part of my home.

                          Therefore, your client is not, and never was, a residential occupier under the definition in s.1(1) Protection from Eviction Act 1977. Even if he were (and in saying this I make no admission) he would be an excluded occupier under s.3A of the Act, as he shared accommodation with me; as such, only reasonable notice would be required in order to lawfully evict, not a court order.

                          In recent months, my relationship with Mr A had deteriorated, not least because he had clearly outstayed his welcome as my guest and abused my hospitality, and on 9th March 2013 he physically assaulted me.* I called the police, who attended. In the course of discussions with the police, Mr A agreed to vacate, and further agreed to return in three days to collect his belongings. The police ordered him to give me his front door keys.

                          Given that your client has physically assaulted me, I have no intention of allowing him to move back in and thereby give him the opportunity to assault me again (unless, of course, I am ordered to do so by a court). Indeed, I now intend to press charges for your client's assault on me, whereas before I felt it was best to try, at least, to put this extremely frightening and distressing event behind me, on the assumption that Mr A had agreed with the police to vacate and that would be the end of it. Or so I had hoped.

                          Mr A has no grounds nor evidence for a civil claim for damages for unlawful eviction. Nor does the local authority have any grounds or evidence to support a prosecution. Your threat of claims for harassment, trespass and burglary are also, in the circumstances, empty, albeit I appreciate that your client has misinformed you as to the facts. Before attempting to pursue what would be a vexatious claim, I am sure that you will ask your client for evidence to support his alleged version of events, and his alleged tenancy or licence, rather than taking his word for it - in which case, I am equally sure that you will conclude that he has no claim.

                          Yours sincerely, etc....

                          ====
                          * I would here give brief details, in one sentence, of the nature of the assault.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Thank you all very much. I will draft this letter to the solicitors tomorrow and see what happens next.

                            Many thanks.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I don't believe a solicitor would send anybody something like that in an email.
                              I'd text Mr A and tell him to come and pick up his stuff which is currently outside in the rain! I would add that if he continues with any more nonsense, you are going straight to the police re: the assault.
                              Oh and change your locks!

                              Comment

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