Rent Arrears, DPS and other disputes with landlord

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Rent Arrears, DPS and other disputes with landlord

    Hi all,

    I have recently got into a complex situation/dispute with my Landlord.

    I am renting this flat for last two years. We entered on AST agreement of 6 months initially and renewed our contract 3 times. It is actually a mid-terrace house, converted into two flats. I entered into upper floor flat with a term that my rent will be inclusive of council tax. Everything run smooth till November last year, when a council inspector visited our house. It turned-out that our house was never declared as two flats with council and only one set of council tax was being paid by the tenants living downstairs. I did explained that I had an agreement with my landlord about council tax inclusive in the rent.

    But last month I received a letter from Valuation agency, followed by huge council tax bill of £3K from local council.

    Interestingly, council send me this bill for last two and half years i.e. six months prior to the date I moved into this property.

    Now when I chased my landlord, leaving several messages, voice mails and telephone calls, he eventually turned up and shrugged off his shoulders that he is not responsible for any council tax payment.

    Here, my biggest mistake: As I mentioned that I had in total four contracts with him, but never bothered reading my contract properly that he never mentioned that council tax is inclusive of rent.

    So Mr. Landlord has now put all council tax responsibility on me. I did made him an offer to lets split it 50 50 cause, its both of our mistake. But you know...

    So, I have wrote a letter to local council explaining this situation, but have not heard anything yet.

    My rent was due last week, and I have held my rent payment till I receive any update from Council. My landlord is now threatening me that I should pay my rent+the late fee as mentioned in the contract. Otherwise, he will evict me for the reason of rent arrears. And by the way our AST contract time has finished and now we are in periodic tenancy.

    Also, while I was searching for information, I came across about DPS condition. Since I never received any such info by my landlord, I did some investigation. I now got written confirmation from all three bodies i.e. DPS, Mydeposits and TDS that our deposit was never protected, in the first place, neither after any re-contracting.

    Lastly, my landlord is also threatening that I breached my contract by subletting the property. I had my brother-in-law living with us (left us around 5 months ago) and landlord knew this from day one cause, the flat was actually found by my brother in law. But because, contract is on mine and my wife’s name, landlord is now saying that he don’t know about my brother in law and I never took any written permission from him staying in this flat.

    I know have gone into a big stress, while we've got two years old daughter and my wife is 8 months pregnant.

    Can someone tell, what are my options to deal with this situation.

    And apologies for this rather very long post.

    Thanks in advance,

    #2
    Hi

    Regarding the council tax, I don't think you have a leg to stand on. If the tenancy agreement says it is tenants responsibility, and you never put anything in writing to confirm otherwise, you will be liable for the period of your occupation.

    I can't see any issue with the fact your brother in law stayed at the property so long after the fact. This just sounds like the landlord trying to issue empty threats.

    Regarding the deposit, this is potentially your trump card. He can't issue you with a sec. 21 notice to leave the property because it is unenforceable without a valid deposit protection. Although, I believe he can still evict you via the sec. 8 route for arrears of rent so by not paying your rent you do leave yourself open to this. You have the option of applying to the court to force him to protect your deposit at which point the court can also order him to pay up to 3 times the deposit as compensation.

    Perhaps you could apply to the court regarding the lack of deposit protection to get the ball rolling and then use this as an incentive for him to reach a settlement with you about the council tax. You can then withdraw the case.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by awpal View Post

      Here, my biggest mistake: As I mentioned that I had in total four contracts with him, but never bothered reading my contract properly that he never mentioned that council tax is inclusive of rent.
      Correct
      Technically you are bound by the AST you signed freely.
      Best you can hope for is that the Council believe you not him.
      Show them your agreements start from a certain date (the 6 months in) and tell them the LL is clearly responsible for that time
      They may take your opinion that as he didn't inform them he could be shown to be dishonest.
      However, the fact you never bothered checking puts you in a position as you could also be expected to either inform them or check your agreement.
      Are you on the Electoral Roll?
      Witholding your rent, although it may seem reasonable to you in the circumstances, is a breach of the terms of the agreement and you are still liable to pay to the end of your term.
      In addition, you have admitted having an unregistered occupant which appears to be another breach.
      I suggest you try to negotiate with LL and Council and next time read everything, understand your obligations and perform them.
      Tbf the deposit situation does put you in a reasonable position with the landlord though remember it costs to start a claim so best to tell him.
      Put it all in writing to keep a record so you know what his answers are.
      Sorry if this is not what you want to hear.

      Comment


        #4
        Council Tax - what evidence do you have (other than your recollection) that council tax was part of the rent. That would be very unusual for an assured tenancy, as council tax is essentially a tax on residence before ownership.
        Does the agreement say that you are responsible for paying the council tax or does it say nothing about tax.

        You don't have any grounds to not pay rent to the landlord. Whatever other dispute you have with the landlord, you are still living in the property and rent is due. If you fall more than two month's in arrears, the landlord can evict you without any further grounds.

        The deposit not being protected is helpful to you. You can notify a county court and they will take action against the landlord. If you're right, the court will order the landlord to return your deposit plus (at least) the same amount as a penalty. The court can award up to three times the value of the deposit, but the same amount is the minimum. Until the landlord has returned your deposit, they can only evict you for arrears (pretty much), they can't just give you 2 month's notice. So how you play that is up to you - but the landlord has a problem whatever you decide to do.
        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by sherifffatman View Post
          Technically you are bound by the AST you signed freely.
          This is not necessarily correct.
          If the landlord tricked the tenant into signing a contract by promising them that it contained a term and it didn't, and the tenant is a consumer, that would not necessarily be binding.
          Equally, if the contract says nothing about council tax, there's nothing to be bound by.
          When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
          Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks all,

            It is very helpful to see these quick replies.

            So the initial discussion, I had with council rep, whilst I submitted my letter was that "they see these kind of disputes regularly where landlords not declaring properties / seek proper planning permission and they believed on my version", however, having said that I am also clear in mind that on legal ground I am at fault due to my negligence, of not reading what I am signing for. Council may fine landlord separately for not taking proper planning permission for the house conversion. But as housing act states it is my responsibility. That is why I offered my landlord to lets split the liability 50 50.

            And yes both myself and my wife are on electoral roll.

            Since we got into this issue, I already have located a property and have an agreement to move to this new property by mid May 2015.

            I know that landlord cannot serve me section 21 notice, but can anyone suggest how much notice he can serve under section 8? and at point he can serve it? immediately or after 2 months of rent arrears?

            And thanks again for the replies.

            Comment


              #7
              The landlord can serve an s8 notice at any time.

              You have rental arrears and he is claiming that you broke your tenancy agreement.
              While they are both valid grounds for a s8 repossession, he'd be lucky to evict you on those grounds alone (and I think the family member staying isn't actually a serious breach).
              If you are two month's in arrears when you go to court, you would probably be evicted, although the court may use the deposit issue to reduce the arrears on the day.

              It will take several weeks / months for the court case to be held, but it's likely to be before May.
              If you keep the arrears below 2 months, you would be hard to evict.

              You could mention to the landlord that any notice that ended before mid may would trigger your escalating the deposit issue, or keep that for a later date.

              What you could do is actually give notice yourself and resume paying rent, because that really takes the wind out of the landlord's sails and he's pretty much stuck.
              When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
              Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

              Comment


                #8
                Ok, I have reached to settlement with my landlord. He has accepted my offer of splitting outstanding council tax payment half and half between us. And I have paid my rent arrears + late fee. I hope he lives up to it.

                By the way, I have not brought the DPS issue at all with him through-out this whole fiasco. Not sure, if he even knows about it, or pretending there is no such issue? But for now, I will keep quite.

                And thanks again for the replies and useful advice.

                Comment


                  #9
                  He was damned lucky to have you as his tenant is all I'll say

                  Comment

                  Latest Activity

                  Collapse

                  Working...
                  X