Should my deposit be protected? "license to occupy"

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    Should my deposit be protected? "license to occupy"

    Hi all,

    Firstly, apologies if this thread is in the wrong place. Feel free to relocate or correct me.

    I'm a student, very new to renting privately. I'm renting a room in a 5 bedroom flat with my boyfriend. I thought we had signed an Assured shorthold tenancy so I've been seeking advice for that, but I've just perhaps realised we've signed a very different agreement a "license to occupy". What does this mean to me living in this flat?

    Is the agency that we've rented through required to protect our deposit? What are our rights as tenants for the flat?
    Is this a normal thing for landlords to use ?
    Can we request to have an Assured shorthold tenancy if we should have one?

    Any info at all relating to our situation is greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks,
    Rebecca

    #2
    Does your landlord live in the property with you?

    Comment


      #3
      Does landlord live in the building & I s it a purpose-built block of flats?
      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Ryan28 View Post
        Does your landlord live in the property with you?
        No they don't

        Comment


          #5
          They don't, and it is a purpose built block of flats

          Comment


            #6
            Regardless of what the paperwork says you almost certainly have an "Assured Shorthold Tenancy" and the deposit should be protected: The agency/landlord should have ensured it was protected: Who is named as landlord - the agency or the person you say lives elesewhere??

            See
            http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_ad...enancy_checker
            &
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_v_Mountford
            I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

            Comment


              #7
              Those were a great help, the outcome of the shelter link said that we have a fixed term AST.

              This is the first page of the agreement:

              This Agreement is between: (agency) Name of licensee (s): (us)
              Address of property situated at property address including a: assumingly for our specific room?)
              Maximum number of people who can live here: 2
              Start Date of Licence:
              End Date of Licence:
              Deposit:
              Licence Fee:
              Cleaning fee:
              Licence to Occupy Agreement

              Licensee:____________________ Signatures ___________________ Date:_______________________
              Landlord/Lease Holder:______________ Signatures _________________________
              Date:______________________________
              Tenant Initial : ...........................
              Landlord Initial: ........................
              I/we understand and agree to the conditions in this Licence.
              -1-

              They have not given us a copy signed by the "landlord" yet. I think it must be the agency?
              We have signed this contract twice because the landlord wanted to increase the rent, probably because we signed so quickly and showed great interest in the room. So we had to increase by £5 per week in the end before we were allowed to move in, and the first contract wasn't signed by the landlord either. We signed electronically as we aren't currently in the same city.

              When I questioned about the deposit being protected (which I paid to them on the 8th sep after signing first contract) the agent told me that we could if we wanted, but it is in their trust and if we wanted to protect it we would have to pay the fees. He said that due to the way the licenses work on the rooms they are not required by law to protect our deposits (£1560).

              I'm very cautious as its a lot of money to me, and my first time renting. Could there be a reason why they do not have to protect it?

              Comment


                #8
                Is the agent named as landlord?

                'Phone Shelter 0808 800 4444 & discuss: they are open today, may be a queue
                I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Becka View Post
                  When I questioned about the deposit being protected (which I paid to them on the 8th sep after signing first contract) the agent told me that we could if we wanted, but it is in their trust and if we wanted to protect it we would have to pay the fees. He said that due to the way the licenses work on the rooms they are not required by law to protect our deposits (£1560).

                  I'm very cautious as its a lot of money to me, and my first time renting. Could there be a reason why they do not have to protect it?
                  The agent (and landlord?) are trying to present the agreement as a licence, rather than an AST, because that gives them many more rights and removes many of the legal protections you would have as a tenant.

                  However, the agreement is what it is, not what it says it is - if there are 5 of you all renting a room each with a shared common area, it's likely to be an AST whatever the agreement says it is, although there's no way to be a 100% confident until they try and do something they're not allowed to do if it's an AST and you say no.

                  For example, if it's not an AST, they don't have to protect your deposit. The issue is what do you want to do, if anything?

                  If you make yourself a nuisance, the agent might just evict you, and, while if it is an AST, they can't just do that, you'd have to go to court to stop them, or refuse to leave - which is a lot of pain and stress.

                  Although I'm not sure it's helpful, the fees for protecting a deposit are very low (I use the deposit protection service who charge me nothing) - the agency might charge you the earth, but, if they do, they're not passing on what it actually costs them.
                  Last edited by jpkeates; 20-09-2015, 13:06 PM. Reason: Added last para
                  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


                    #10
                    That was my initial thought. But after speaking to someone at shelter its come to light that we perhaps do not have exclusive access to one room. Although it states the specific room we occupy, they told me that a cleaning service will be provided, I can't remember if they told me it was for the whole flat or communal areas. Though on the license it only says "cleaning fee: £20" whereas the license fee says "license fee: £1148 per month" suggesting this was a one off payment?
                    The contract appears to be poorly worded in places, but could that wording be an arguable case for an AST rather than a license?

                    The only reason I would want to argue I have a tenancy rather than a license for the protection of my deposit is because the agency are very small. Who knows if they might end up in financial difficulty etc, basically it's a risk I'd rather not take. They responded to me super quick when they wanted my money but since then it's been hard work getting things done. It would give me complete peace of mind, it's a lot of my money I'd like to get back one day

                    Comment


                      #11
                      JPs interpretation is correct. They would like you to think you have a licence since you would then have significantly less rights. The cleaning thing is only relevant if the landlord lives in the property with you. Or at least it has to be a genuine request for access. If he doesnt live in the property, then I dont think it will be a licence regardless of access for cleaning - it will be an AST. I dont think courts are willing to let people ride roughshod over tenants rights simply by increasing the rent by £20, calling it a 'cleaning' fee and hiring a cleaner.

                      Heres what gov.uk says about the requirement for 'exclusive possession'

                      ----------------------------

                      What kind of attendance or services would require me to have unrestricted access to the occupier’s room?

                      These might include regular cleaning of the occupier’s room, removal of rubbish, changing the bed linen, providing meals. But none of these on its own necessarily means there is a licence. It is only if you genuinely need to come and go without restriction and cannot be limited to agreed times of the day in order to provide the services, that the occupier will not have exclusive use of the accommodation. In this type of arrangement, the occupier would usually be described as a lodger.


                      -----------------------------

                      You are correct that agents go out of business (or 'phoenix') somewhat often, but it is your landlord who is ultimately responsible for your deposit - and he owns a somewhat large asset that probably isnt going anywhere any time soon (the property).

                      If you really want your deposit protecting, Id point out to them that you would like your deposit protecting since you believe you have an AST but that you will not pay the fees. If they dont protect it within 30 days of the 8th (or whenever your tenancy starts if that date is later) then you probably have a valid claim against the landlord for 1-3x your deposit amount. There are no win no fee companies that will take this sort of case on for you. Of course, you could conveniently forget about questioning them until after the 30 days are up....

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