A complicated situation!

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    A complicated situation!

    This situation has evolved into something fairly complex so I shall try to be as succinct as possible.

    Issued a Section 21. Understand the ramifications (took us 5 months to get in because of previous tenant being served one) but still annoyed. Landlord only holds 1 month deposit - advised by family property manager to not pay last month's rent and offer deposit in lieu. Refused.

    Didn't pay last month's rent. Found new property before we went into arrears to ensure references were OK. Planned to move 4th May, AST due to expire 16th.

    Workers repairing the roof since after Easter weekend. Told we were going to have internal builders some time in the middle of April. We told them we refuse entry to them. We didn't want anybody coming in whilst this dispute was ongoing. They ignored us and sent him anyway (4 days notice we gave them). He turned up, we refused entry and got a barrage of abuse in our own home (you f*cking pair of c*nts) on a Friday morning. Police called, we arrange to have our move brought forward 2 weeks.

    Agents notified of constructive illegal eviction and breach of our quiet enjoyment of the property. Up until then we'd have been happy to lose the deposit in lieu of last month's rent, but we were bullied out of our home early (at a considerable extra expense).

    Fast forward 2 weeks. Family member property manager sends email stating they have broken section 214 of the 2004 housing act and [follows a quote from our letter to them]

    "criminal charges relating to infringements under the protection from eviction act 1977 - constructive Unlawful eviction and harassment of occupier. And the same charges may also be demanded from the CPS under the protection from harassment act 1997."

    Section 21 was initially brought about by alleged state of the house from the landlord's previous trespass, but that is by the by.

    Furthermore, we don't think we've had the prescribed information for our deposit protection (email from agents stating it's in their file, and we have a single sheet of paper from some deposit protection company saying it's protected) so that opens up a Ayannuga v Swindells (2012) 3x deposit penalty potential, yes?

    10 days after sending this email asking the landlord to make an offer or we will take him to court with substantial evidence we receive a reply saying they're going to change the locks tomorrow on a letter headed "Without Prejudice". We've been told he needs a court order to obtain the house legally (as we have not surrendered the keys or had a checkout) and we still have stuff in the old house, even though we are living elsewhere. Obviously, if he takes us to court for his court order, we counterclaim with our evidence.

    The agents are now suggesting they will change the locks tomorrow and dispose of our remaining property after close of business tomorrow. What is our best course of action at this stage? Let them change the locks and contact the police, or warn them that if they do so they will be committing a criminal offence?

    Or have I got something totally wrong and they can actually do that? I've tried to be as brief as possible...there is quite a bit more to this story and if I've left out any important bits (or anyone has any clarification questions) I'll happily answer them to get a definite answer.

    Many thanks.

    #2
    Originally posted by Royal_flu$h View Post
    I've tried to be as brief as possible...
    Um... try again, maybe? I've read it twice and am still none the wiser

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      #3
      Sorry, lol. The crux of it is, we've moved into a new property but haven't surrendered the keys to our old one due to this ongoing issue. We've had no checkout and we still have stuff in the old place. AST (and Section 21) expires tomorrow, though we suspect it is invalid due to not having prescribed information anyway.

      Bottom line: they're going to change the locks tomorrow on the grounds that we don't live there, despite the fact we haven't surrendered the keys and have property of our own inside. They are claiming because the Section 21 and AST expire tomorrow, they will change the locks. Pretty sure that's illegal. Should I write them back and remind them of that, or let them do it and have them arrested?

      Or am I wrong?

      Comment


        #4
        You are right, unless evicted by a court order you are still tenants and they have no right to change the locks. It sounds like they're pretty clueless if they think expiry of S21 makes it okay to do that.

        I would probably remind them that expiry of S21 does not make tenancy come to an end and they will be performing an illegal eviction if they decide to change the locks before any court order has been granted.

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          #5
          If you can remove your contents and return the keys by midnight on last day of fixed term then there should be no problem. Otherwise a SPT will ensue and you will be liable for ongoing rent (min 2 months). Why did you not remove your contents when you moved, are they broken/unwanted.
          LL/LA cannot just 'skip' your property, it should be retained for 3 months but you can be charged cost of a storage unit and LL/LA can also charge you commercial rates for disposing of 'rubbish'
          LL/LA is not obliged to do check-out with you present and not until after T has ended. He is obliged to send you a copy of the report if he intends to make any deductions for T damage.
          Did you get a copy of the move in check?
          Family property manager advice to withold last month rent in lieu of deposit was 'misguided'.
          All it does is alienate LL, esp if no Notice given and keys witheld.

          Comment


            #6
            Mariner, I appreciate your comments but I'm afraid that's not the point. We went through a series of trying to compromise with the agents, as we would not be able to afford the final month's rent as well as the first month's rent and a deposit for our new place. We asked if we could be released early after first receiving the Section 21. It was refused. We offered them the deposit in lieu of rent. It was refused. At every stage we tried being reasonable and practical. We then had the incident of constructive illegal eviction (harassment from builders) which forced us to move early.

            They are now saying we have vacated the property and they are going to change the locks. This is the point. We HAVEN'T vacated. Whilst we spend our time elsewhere now, we have not surrendered the keys and still have property (that in reality we don't want but again, not the point) remaining on the premises. The reason we haven't surrendered the keys is because they would not be reasonable and have committed offences (agents/landlord/contractors) that we would like compensation for and are subsequently going to pursue them for. Their next official step would be to try and obtain a court order but they are bypassing that and going straight to change the locks, which is illegal. My question was, should we remind them of their illegality, or let them do it and then contact the police when we go round tonight and discover the locks have been changed?

            Comment


              #7
              Yes Royal Flush do remind the agent of the illegality of their actions in changing the locks and that you may look for damages against them as they are preventing your quiet enjoyment of the property.

              If agent is a member of ARLA or NAEA contact these bodies and complain.

              It will take time for them to get any court order and even longer if your suspicions are correct and S21 is invalid.



              Freedom at the point of zero............

              Comment


                #8
                Thank you Interlaken. They are members of both and complaints are underway.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I don't understand why you think it's OK not to pay the rent for your last month. Your LL still has bills to pay himself which might rely on your rent being paid on time. It's not the LLs fault that you can't afford the deposit and first month's rent on your new property.

                  The LL might well need the deposit for any damages you have caused to the property as well as storing any of your goods, because if you can't afford the rent (s) then it's unlikely you can afford the storage and transport costs for your goods.

                  IMO a single incident of a mouthful of abuse because you won't let the LL repair the property, is hardly bullying you out of the house.

                  If you haven't vacated the property are you still paying the rent on it?

                  Although your LL is not perfect, can you not see the situation from his point of view?

                  I'm not surprised your LL is annoyed with you, I would be too.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Royalflu$h.......Are you saying you have 2 AST's running at the moment?
                    I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Royal_flu$h View Post
                      10 days after sending this email asking the landlord to make an offer or we will take him to court with substantial evidence we receive a reply saying they're going to change the locks tomorrow on a letter headed "Without Prejudice". We've been told he needs a court order to obtain the house legally (as we have not surrendered the keys or had a checkout) and we still have stuff in the old house, even though we are living elsewhere. Obviously, if he takes us to court for his court order, we counterclaim with our evidence.
                      Section 1(2) Protection from Eviction Act 1977 says:

                      "(2) If any person unlawfully deprives the residential occupier of any premises of his occupation of the premises or any part thereof, or attempts to do so, he shall be guilty of an offence unless he proves that he believed, and had reasonable cause to believe, that the residential occupier had ceased to reside in the premises."

                      So the LL clearly has a defence.

                      I do not understand what you hope to gain by being deliberately awkward, and leaving stuff in a property you've moved out from.

                      If you maintain that you are still occupying the property then this is effectively asserting that the tenancy remains in place, along with your liability for rent. You can't have it both ways.

                      We then had the incident of constructive illegal eviction (harassment from builders) which forced us to move early.

                      They are now saying we have vacated the property and they are going to change the locks. This is the point. We HAVEN'T vacated. Whilst we spend our time elsewhere now, we have not surrendered the keys and still have property (that in reality we don't want but again, not the point) remaining on the premises.
                      Again, you can't have it both ways. You cannot claim that you were unlawfully evicted, but at the same time argue that you "HAVEN'T vacated"!

                      It is precisely the point that "in reality" you don't want the stuff you left at the property. You've clearly no intention of moving back in, yet you've left lots of unwanted belongings which you're using to pretend that you're still occupying the property.

                      However unreasonable the LL's or agent's behaviour, your behaviour is equally unreasonable. This will not work in your favour if this matter ends up in court. It might even be interpreted as a cynical attempt to entrap the LL, calling into question your witness evidence of the verbal abuse by the builders.

                      My advice is to move the stuff out, and hand back the keys. Your 'family member property manager' is misadvising you. If you want legal advice, go to a lawyer.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        You have vacated the property. It is not your main home.
                        If the fixed term expires, and you are not living there, then it is reasonable for the landlord to assume the tenancy is not ongoing, as there is no requirement for you to notify him that you are indeed leaving.

                        Whilst the landlord might end up in court, I don't see what penalty he would get. I expect a judge would think that you are wasting the courts time.
                        Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

                        Comment


                          #13
                          If you are skint and could not afford the rent for the new place without withholding last months rent on old place, why would you be wanting to maintain a tenancy and rent liability on the old place?

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