Landlord accepts our notice then changes his mind

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  • Landlord accepts our notice then changes his mind

    Hi,

    This is a bit of an odd one. I recently left a house I was renting in England after giving a month's notice. However, I gave the notice just after the next rent period had started. The landlord made no comment about this and on the day we were moving out turned up and said to just pop the keys through the letterbox when we left.

    A month later, after a couple of reminders, he writes to us to withold most of our deposit, and enclosed a cheque for the rest, which wasn't much. A small amount was to make up the rent to one month (fair enough I guess) and the rest was for deductions for repairs which were dubious at best. There were no receipts, and we challenged most of the deductions as we felt they were unfair.

    He wrote back to us saying that after taking legal advice he was told that he would have been able to charge us rent to the end of the next rental period (about a month's worth of rent) and that if we challenged him he'd counter sue us for the rest of the rent, and for some other damage he claims we'd done.

    I now know that I should give notice from one rent period to another (I didn't at the time). But did he accept our notice? Can he actually sue us for the rent if we take him to court for the other deductions?

    It should be mentioned that if he had said at the time that we owed him rent for another month, we would have stayed there, as we encountered a problem when we moved that almost left us homeless for a fortnight and cost us hundreds of pounds and a lot of stress. It seems a bit ridicuous to be charged for a house we never got to use, especially if we needed one at the time.

    For the record, there was no signed inventory, the deductions included replacing stone chips outside the house and tools for the decorators he says he hired, and the house was spotless - my girlfriend spent a whole day cleaning it.

  • #2
    No inventory = No Deductions ( no questions )

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't actually subscribe to that theory that "no inventory = no deductions" - whilst an inventory helps, it is not the sole reliable factor in deciding whether a property is handed back in reasonable "fair wear and tear" condition. The landlord could have photograph or an independent witness or indeed the previous tenant to support any disrepair contention.

      In this case, I do however believe the landlords case is weak - he deducts both without an inventory and without supporting invoices. Also, when challenged about the deductions, he "counterclaims" for a further month's rent because the notice was insufficient, not ending on a rental period - that may be so, but I consider the landlord is estopped from claiming any further by his acceptance of delivery of possession and his own calculation of the rent up to when possession was handed over - self shot in the foot here I think.

      What would I do if I were the tenants. I do not think the landlords counterclaim for additional rent would be successful and certainly the court would not allow his deductions for disrepairs without supporting invoices. I would write to the landlord setting this out and giving him 14 days to pay the disputed money to you.

      Failing that, I would sue for the return of the whole of the deposit (less that which the OP thinks is fair), interest on the sum, and £20 for raising the summons as litigant in person in lieu of a solicitor.

      I think overall, that the tenants will win.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
        I don't actually subscribe to that theory that "no inventory = no deductions" - whilst an inventory helps, it is not the sole reliable factor in deciding whether a property is handed back in reasonable "fair wear and tear" condition. The landlord could have photograph or an independent witness or indeed the previous tenant to support any disrepair contention.
        David,

        Interesting view. Do you have any supporting evidence to back this up? In other words, actually court cases where LL have been successful in claiming deductions without an inventory?

        I ask, because in Oz, it would immediately be thrown out with a "condition report" as it is termed here.
        Now signature free.

        Comment


        • #5
          Show me where (in british law) it says words to the effect that "a landlord may NOT claim damages in respect of disrepair caused by his tenant UNLESS there is a written inventory signed by both parties"

          Each case goes on its own merits and evidence - an inventory helps - its not an absolute basis for deciding the condition of a property between two dates.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
            Show me where (in british law) it says words to the effect that "a landlord may NOT claim damages in respect of disrepair caused by his tenant UNLESS there is a written inventory signed by both parties"

            Each case goes on its own merits and evidence - an inventory helps - its not an absolute basis for deciding the condition of a property between two dates.
            It doesn't in Oz law either, but it's the only thing that satisfies the requirement for evidence.

            I would just like to know if there is any case history where a judge is satisfied with evidence other than an inventory. If it exists, I'd like to know about it... also if it doesn't exist, I'd like to know that too.

            An signed 3rd party inventory certainly is irrefutable, you must admit.
            Now signature free.

            Comment


            • #7
              OMG!!!

              I've made a typo; and it's too late to edit.

              My English tutor will be disappointed.
              Now signature free.

              Comment


              • #8
                My problem with quoting case law is that a claim of this nature would be made in the county court probably within small claims the hearing of which is held in private and generally not published unless it comes up for an appeal.

                I am sure however, that one of our other forum inhabiters can come up with something appropriate??????

                However, stating the cases held in the British courts will not necessarily reflect the condition in the Australian Courts.

                Incidentally, even a signed third party inventory is open to examination - judges here like to have witnesses appear in front of them so they can be cross examined. Otherwise whats to stop me getting Joe Bloggs to make up an inventory for a trash house showing it to be good when let and trash now - its been done before!!!!!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  OK just to clarify, I'm more interested in UK law, because that's where my IPs are, but more familiar with OZ law. As irrelevant Oz law is to you all, it just serves as a personal marker as a point of logic, nothing more.

                  Re Inventories.

                  As I understand it, an inventory signed by the tenant, is evidence that the initial condition of the property was recorded and that the description of items, components and the condition thereof, was agreed and accepted as accurate by T.

                  Therefore condition was agreed by both T and LL as evidenced by the signatures and not in question. If the court (or arbitrator) subsequently becomes involved, it could only be regarding agreement of the condition at the conclusion of the lease, and the recompense due to the LL.

                  So:
                  *condition at initiation of lease is agreed and not at issue.
                  *condition at conclusion of the lease is at issue and would require supporting evidence regarding costs.

                  But I'm flying by the seat of my pants here and look forward to input from others.
                  Now signature free.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    anorthosite, It sounds like you were past the end of the fixed term, can you confirm this is the case. Assuming it is, were you ever served a Section 21 notice requiring possession? Often this is served near the start of the tenancy to expire at the end of the fixed term. This is dubbed the Sword of Damocles and is a way to dispense with the landlord having to give the tenant notice should he wish them the leave any any time afterwards, but it means the tenant doesn't have to give notice either! So if this S21 notice was served then it remains valid even after the fixed term and you would not have to have given notice anyway. So worth checking as often tenants don't realise or forget that the notice was served.
                    ~~~~~

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ruth Less View Post
                      anorthosite, It sounds like you were past the end of the fixed term, can you confirm this is the case. Assuming it is, were you ever served a Section 21 notice requiring possession? Often this is served near the start of the tenancy to expire at the end of the fixed term. This is dubbed the Sword of Damocles and is a way to dispense with the landlord having to give the tenant notice should he wish them the leave any any time afterwards, but it means the tenant doesn't have to give notice either! So if this S21 notice was served then it remains valid even after the fixed term and you would not have to have given notice anyway. So worth checking as often tenants don't realise or forget that the notice was served.
                      Useful post...so check your documents for notices served at the time you had your tenancy agreement.

                      Also I would say that if an inventory is not held, tenants would still have to lie in court if they insist they are not responsible for damages that we all know they are responsible for. I know that it must happen, but is that an easy thing to do for most people?
                      All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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                      • #12
                        Hi,

                        We were about 2 moths past the end of a 12 month agreement. There was no section 21 served.

                        As for the other deductions, he seems to have redecorated half the house at our expense. He even claims to have bought new tools for the decorators with our deposit.

                        We were good tennants, we kept the place clean, never had any parties, we don't smoke, we've no pets, etc.

                        I'm completly confident about our position regarding the state of the house, I just want to check about the rent issue.

                        Would it make a difference if he entered the house without our permission during the period he says we owe him for?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by anorthosite View Post
                          Hi,

                          Would it make a difference if he entered the house without our permission during the period he says we owe him for?
                          It might. You could argue that his re-entry impliedly confirmed acceptance of your departure and termination of your tenancy.
                          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                          3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                          4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by anorthosite View Post

                            Would it make a difference if he entered the house without our permission during the period he says we owe him for?

                            If you use this argument in court, the judge is going to take it that (during the time you were not in possesion) you were entitled to exclusive use of the premises during the time in dispute and therefore liable for rent for that period. (assuming the landlord claims off you until the end of the period of the tenancy.)

                            Best defence is to ask the landlord when it was that he first told you that he intended to charge rent up to the next rent period. If he answers that he did it before you left, then put him to proof of that - if he says that it was six weeks after you had left, then he shoots himself in the proverbial foot!

                            Don't fanny about - get onto the money claims online website and issue a summons from there otherwise you will still be coming on here six months hence about it. Don't go into a spiel about the claim on the particulars - just say you are claiming for return of deposit in the sum of £x plus interest and costs. If the landlord counterclaims then it will go to a hearing which is when you ring out all the small particulars that there isn't room to mention in the original summons.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well, I've begun proceedings through the small claims court, and the landlord has appointed a solicitor to represent him. The solicitor says they'll be issuing a full defence and counter claim.

                              Am I right in thinking he can only have a solictor represent him in the small claims court if I agree to it?

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