Please help my mother in law!

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    Please help my mother in law!

    Hi Folks, got quite a long description of events and wondering if anybody can offer any advice.

    The short story:

    Basically, my mother-in-law (To be known as MIL here on out) was in some financial trouble and put her house on the market, a woman offered to buy but then couldn't so suggested renting instead. My MIL agreed and they got quite friendly while sorting things out. Despite trying to offer advice, she let the new tenant do most of the things including drawing up the inventory and sorting out the tenancy agreement (a standard 6 month AST agreement from the internet).

    They agreed a few things via conversation that were not on the agreement, firstly that my MIL kept the garage locked with her possessions in it until she got 'sorted' elsewhere. Also that the new tenant has a dog (despite the agreement stating no pets).

    A couple of months in to the rental, my MIL got quite a formal letter from the tenant (which was unusual as they had been communicating via text message informally for months), stating that she had not received confirmation of her deposit being put in a scheme (MIL did not know she had to do this within 30 days) and that she would be "taking possession of the garage".

    MIL immediately placed deposit in a scheme and provided the certificate and the argument over the garage went back and forth for a while (The garage is not mentioned at all on the tenancy agreement). MIL had enough so issued tenant with notice to leave at the end of the fixed term (This was about 2.5 months into the 6 months).

    In the middle of this, MIL had lost her copy of agreement and asked tenant to provide a copy for her, after some wrangling tenant did this but had doctored the copy (Writing in an exception for her dog, even though MIL did not have an issue with this anyway). We noticed this when MIL actually found her original copy of the agreement.

    Tenant made is clear on a number of occasions (verbally) that she had no intention of leaving and wanted to remain in the property in the summer. MIL took a bit of advice and realised her notice was probably not valid due to deposit issue.

    Tenancy due to end on December 28th, MIL tried to issue notice again but tenant stated at this point she was taking MIL to court and would not leave until this was resolved.

    MIL did little in the meantime as was worried about court. she then payed back deposit in full and issued notice again which was done on 25th of January so tenant must leave by 27th of March. (As tenancy is now periodic)

    Court papers come through 28th of January: Tenant suing for 3x deposit value (£2700) and 6 months rental without the garage at £100 reduction per month, so £600. Also that MIL failed to provide Gas and Electricity Safety Certificates. (MIL DID provide Gas safety, and stated that she has been told electricity is not required - Gas safety certificate seems to have gone missing, but the guy who did the test has provided a duplicate, so not worried about that bit).

    Up until this month MIL has been living in my lounge, but my letting agents started to get antsy about it so she is now living in a bedsit (which is absolutely disgusting, I wouldn't home my dog there).

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. With any of it... I can provide further details if necessary, just ask

    Thanks

    #2
    What was the start date of the original tenancy, was an end date specified? How was the second S21 notice served?

    Are the court papers that MIL has received from the small claims court? Did she receive a letter before action?

    Comment


      #3
      Some basic, & potentially expensive, newbie errors by MiL.
      She is bang to rights for deposit (late) non-protection, and just providing deposit Cert does not fulfill requirement for provision of prescribed information.
      AIUI the deposit is fully refundable with additional penalty of 1-3x deposit value. Level is at Judge's discretion.
      Was there a valid GSC in place when property was advertised?
      What Notice did MiL serve in Jan. s21a or s21b? and how was the expiry date expressed?
      When did Tenancy commence? (actual date), any end date included, how long was fixed term and was rent payable per cal month / other?

      As for Court papers received, is T claiming via Small Claims or multi-track route of County Court?

      Renting is running a business from Day 1
      I fear the T saw your MiL coming & ripe for the plucking.

      When T could not buy the property, why did MiL not just walk away in the hope another buyer would materialise? Good advice for anyone in similar circs.

      Comment


        #4
        daveg,

        The start date of the tenancy was 28th of June. End date I believe was specified as the 28th of December.

        The second notice was served by hand, MIL took along a friend to witness the delivery.

        I don't know how to tell whether it is small claims court, I believe so (i have a copy of the claim form if you can tell me how to know the difference. I believe she did get a letter before action (with a number of documents that tenant intended to present in court)

        Comment


          #5
          mariner,

          I don't know what a GSC is but I can find out if you elaborate for me.

          I believe it was a section 21a that was served in January. I'm also not sure what you mean about how the expiry was expressed, the expiry was given as just over two months from the date of issue (25th jan), the day before the next rent would be due (due on 28th of March, expiry of s21 on 27th March - I think, I am giving these dates from memory).

          Rent was monthly, but 6 months advanced. So first monthly rent was not due until 28th December and 28th of each month thereafter

          See above for other details...

          Thanks for the replies. I know MIL was stupid, we tried to get her to do things differently but she's a bit funny sometimes... Quite possibly bi-polar... She refused to listen to my partner and me at the time, and now I'm left running around trying to help her!

          In her defence though, she was pretty desperate at the time and I think it was the 6 months rent in advance that convinced her.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by mariner View Post
            She is bang to rights for deposit (late) non-protection, and just providing deposit Cert does not fulfill requirement for provision of prescribed information..
            Sorry, she did give the other information along with the certificate... It was all done as it should be aside from her not doing when she should have done! Tenant has full deposit back now (refunded when section 21 was served in jan)

            Comment


              #7
              GSC = gas safety certificate.

              Can you check the end date of the original tenancy, six months from 28th of June should be 27th of December.

              The wording of the S21 expiry date should say AFTER dd/mm/yy. Which is what mariner was asking.

              " Tenant has full deposit back now (refunded when section 21 was served in jan)" This may cause a problem how was the deposit returned?

              The dates are important so you need to quote what is actually on the paperwork rather than from memory.

              Are court costs mentioned in the court papers - it might indicate if it is a small claims court or another track.

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks for the response. I can check the end date tomorrow.

                There is £100 court costs indicated in addition to the £3,300 the tenant is claiming. Does that mean it's small claims court?

                I am sure the wording is correct as I went through the s21 dates with her and some instructions at the time. Again I can check for sure tomorrow.

                Will this make much difference to the actual court proceedings? Or just in relation to the validity of the notice?

                I forgot the mention, the tenant also wants the rent reduced by £100 whilst she remains in the property.

                Also, any ideas about the garage? It was perfectly clear the tenant wouldn't have the garage (she moved in with the garage double padlocked and Mil had the only keys, that is aside from the verbal agreement they had - which was reiterated with me witnessing a little bit down the line).

                It seems like the deposit issue is a no brainer and it's just up to the judge how much to fine, although it seems very harsh.

                However the reduced rental retrospectively and for future months all seems to hinge on whether the garage is included in the tenancy.

                The property was never advertised for rent, and so the gas safety certificate was done just a month or so prior to the tenant moving in and left the by the boiler. Like I said, the gas man has provided a replacement certificate so that shouldn't be a bother (hopefully)

                [edit] forgot to mention, the deposit was refunded via bank transfer. What would the problem be? Unless you thought maybe it was cash and the tenant could deny receiving it (the MIL is definitely stupid enough sometimes!)

                Comment


                  #9
                  The £100 pound matches with the fee for a £3,300 small claim done online. This is good news as the tenant cannot claim legal fees and the court costs are much lower than the alternative multitrack.

                  GSC is fine - one less thing to worry about.

                  Return of the deposit by bank transfer is good as you have a record, how long before the S21 was issued was it done? I read your previous post as refund and S21 were done at the same time.

                  "Will this make much difference to the actual court proceedings? Or just in relation to the validity of the notice?" If the S21 notice is invalid the court will probably reject the claim for possession.


                  Garage - the original verbal agreement was that MIL would use the garage until she "got sorted" so until tenant complained that this had not happened I can't see a reason for compensation. After that point perhaps there is a case - what would the rent of a garage in the area be? Normally a tenancy for a property with a garage would include the garage unless the tenancy agreement said otherwise.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    mariner,

                    Ok. I am helping her put together her court defence tonight and have gathered all the relevant information.

                    The notice served in January was a section 21a. It is given as Date of Expiry AFTER 27th of March 2014. Date of the notice given was 25th of January 2014.

                    The original tenancy start date is 28th of June 2013 and the end date is 28th December 2013. 6 months rent were paid in advance and the tenancy agreement has the next rental due on the 28th of January and then on the 28th pcm thereafter. - Will these dates make the s21 invalid?

                    So two issues for MIL really... Firstly, in trying to defend against the claims in court is the best option to hold her hands up to the deposit but claim ignore and talk about the fact that the deposit was protected immediately following MI becoming aware of it, provide the GSC from last year and assume the court will accept that, then provide as much evidence as possible for the verbal agreement regarding the garage?

                    Secondly, how to actually get the tenant out. In defending against this claim we have not in any way attempted to counter-claim or ask the court to issue an eviction notice. We have just provided the section 21a and hope that works by March... If not we can then apply to the court... From the details I've provided, does it sound like we'll be able to do that ok? Or are we likely to have trouble with the AST end date of the 28th December?

                    Thanks for the help

                    Comment


                      #11
                      The start date of the tenancy was 28th of June. End date I believe was specified as the 28th of December.
                      The fixed term of the tenancy was 6 months and one day, that alone is enough to make the S21 invalid, the correct date would have been after 28/mm/yyyy.. It is possible to add a 'saving clause' to any S21, if you put the phrase into the search facility you will find out how to do it.
                      I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

                      Comment


                        #12
                        How does that affect the periodic tenancy she is now under? Even though the date is wrong on the AST (IE. 28th December),the following payment and period dates are from the 28th of January.

                        If each payment from January is the 28th, then if we specified the s21a to expire after 26th (which would have been the correct date if the AST ended on the 27th and each period started on the 27th) that would be two days prior to the period date specified?

                        Does that make sense?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by mhenry357 View Post

                          Does that make sense?
                          Not really! The S21 is invalid, somebody was careless with the original dates.

                          If the tenant asks advice for himself somebody else will notice and explain it to him.
                          I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Ok, I guess the simpler way to put is... As the date on the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement is wrong (ie. June 28th to December 28th instead of 27th), then how can MIL issue a valid s21a?

                            Also note - The agreement does not specifically state 6 months, and the next rent due is down for the 28th of January and then the 28th of each month following.

                            In that case, the section 21 will have to say Expires after <what date> ?

                            Thanks for your patience!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              What is the fixed term as expressed on the AST? Is it

                              (a) Six months;

                              (b) Start date: 28 June, End date: 28 December; or

                              (c) Something else (please specify)?

                              Comment

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