Tenants demand access to bedroom without paying for it

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Tenants demand access to bedroom without paying for it


    I'm posting here on behalf of my mum, who is an elderly LL of a student house.

    For past 2 years, we have hired a long established residential agent to do a let only agreement to find and vet tenants for us. Prior to this we always sourced tenants ourselves, 'we' meaning me.

    The house has 3 large double beds and 1 small box room. When we let the property and found tenants ourselves, we always let the small box room out. However agents advised the room is too small to be let. Agent is going on the city council's guidelines of 8 sq m, however the room meets the national standard of 6.5 sq m.

    So for past two years, inc this year, we have only had 3 tenants for 3 rooms.

    Last year, Ts paid a deposit of £1000+, so we allowed them access to bedroom 4, however it was still a 3 bed let for 3 students. My mum told the agent she would not give access to bed 4 and lock it, would this be ok with the tenants. Agent said yes, it was at her discretion what she chose to do with it. However mum is soft and just let the girls have access, seeing as they had paid a larger deposit to cover any possible damages for bedroom 4 too. Nothing in the agreement specifically mentioned this though.

    This summer we planned to refurbish bed 4 and so told agent this year's tenants would get no access to bed 4 at all. Agent said that is fine. Agent found 3 male students.

    At start of tenancy I told mum to lock bed 4. She said 'let them access it until we have finished it.' against my advice.

    I still told one tenant on his move in they would not get access to bed 4. He said that was ok as they were not using it anyway.

    A week later, we realised there was a fourth student who was living in bed 4. Yesterday tenants told us he was their mate and had stayed for two weeks! Contract contains clause which disallows subletting or allowing anyone to live in property who is not named on the contract. At the time, ma chose to turn a blind eye, against my advice.

    We proceeded with the refurb, have just completed to a high standard and have finally locked the room.

    Lead T yesterday demanded we unlock the bedroom. I heard him arguing with my mum so came downstairs and intervened. Incidentally we were there to show the University's own accommodation agency the house and bedroom 4 as an example refurb - we will be handing the property over to them to manage from next year onwards.

    T came up with every excuse under the sun as to why he wants access to the room - for ventilation, to allow more natural light into the hallway (!), except saying why he really wants it. It's clear he wants to invite mates/whoever to stay there as before, for free.

    He said they had paid for the whole house. This is not true, Ts signed a payment schedule that states rent for bed 1, bed 2, bed 3. There is no mention of bed 4. Tenancy agreement does not state clearly the number of bedrooms in the house. However there are 3 Ts and they are paying rent for a 3 bed house, not a 4 bed. It is priced accordingly.

    I stated on the Inventory that bedroom 4 would not be accessible for the tenants and so would be voided. T refused to find their Inventory and emailed me after to say the Inventory was 'wrong'. Too late now, surely?

    Ts have only paid damage deposit of £750, which is £250 each. There is no damage deposit for bed 4.

    We said if they wanted access to the room, they would need to increase deposit and possibly pay extra rent. T said if he did not get access for free he would demand a rent reduction as our rent was 'far too expensive for the area'.

    I was astounded. University accommodation agency confirmed our valuations were spot on and in fact they would increase the rent. Rent for bed 4 would be an extra £75.00 a week according to them. They also advised not to give him access, they were very impressed with refurb and the standard throughout (minus the messy tenant bedrooms).

    We told him we would speak to our agent to ask what he had told them - as tenant claimed agent told them bed 4 was included.

    T kept arguing endlessly, saying that our contract was wrong and ended by saying he would talk to his parents and threatened to take further action. Nice guy.

    Agent confirmed he had not given them bed 4. However we have nothing in writing apart from the payment schedule to state this.

    Tonight I received a formal email from Lead T cc'ing in other 2 Ts, claiming they have been ideal Ts, demanding access to Bed 4 and accusing us of breaching contract by locking it. He says they took out an agreement on a 4 bed property, however nothing states the property is a 4 bed. Ends with a threat of 'further action'.

    FYI Tenants have also breached contract, although we have not said anything yet:
    * Allowing visitor to stay without our permission/possible subletting
    * Breaking items of furniture
    * Putting hooks/blu tack/posters on walls

    I dislike the way this guy spoke to my mum, he's clearly not taking a polite no for an answer and is trying to bully her. She is old, vulnerable, has disabilities, English is her second language, and is going through a medical issue atm. We have been in hospital twice over the past week. He is tall, very wealthy background - how many students do you see with a new Audi A1 with a private plate? Parents were also v arrogant - and imo an aggressive bully. Would like to report him to University under their student code of conduct for being aggressive and not respecting LL's decision.

    Mum is going back to agent tomorrow and asking him for the payment schedule, but is this enough? Agent said it was her choice if she wants to give him access, Uni also said he shouldn't get access if he's only paying for 3 beds.

    Where do we stand legally? I personally don't think he has a leg to stand on but what do I know. Hence being here :[

    Assuming joint tenancy- what does it say, please?

    Unless the 4th bedroom is specifically excluded in the tenancy agreement it is the tenant's property to use as the see fit, even if locked. (If it was excluded landlord would be responsible for council tax - yes I know students don't pay tax, but CT should be in LL name & he sort it)). What does tenancy agreement say please?

    As long as there are enough large enough rooms (including sitting room) to sleep in it doesn't matter where they sleep, , they could all be in one bed in one room, that would be legal. I have a 4-bed student let with one bedroom below minimum, but overall there's enough room to pass overcrowding legalities. I can't comment on your council regulations regarding this.

    Who is named as Landlord, who is on deeds as owner, who declares rent to HMRC.

    That a tenant is rich or a pauper or a student does not change (mainly...) their rights. Landlord decisions only enforceable through court - injunction, s8 or s21 - and anyway "Landlord decision" may be incorrect.

    Done any training in landlord/tenant law?
    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...


      Hi yes sorry, it is a joint AST for a fixed term of 10 months with no break clause.

      It looks like CT is the tenants responsibility to pay. States:

      "To pay and indemnify the LL against either the whole of any CT...payable by the LL or a fair proportion (to be determined by LL) of any CT payable by LL during the term in respect of the property..." etc. Should I state full para on this?

      Ts never sort the admin/exemption on this, Council always writes to ma for a copy tenancy agreement plus separate form filled out to exempt liability. Done same again this year. Not sure if this applies.

      Ma is named LL etc.

      I don't care if student has a wealthy b/g or not, as you say this is irrelevant to their rights. What I am saying is it seems to be contributing to his bullying behaviour/attitude. I believe if LL was a man for example, he would not have been so argumentative. He was patronising, rude and sarcastic. It was uncomfortable to watch and imo it's clear he sees ma as an easy target.

      Ultimately what I am asking is - what action can T take if we refuse to allow access unless they pay additional deposit and possibly rent?

      Can we not show a higher rent historically for a 4 bed let in past? And higher deposit? And we are charging accordingly and not overcharging? Although on his formal letter he does not state what 'further action' means and makes no claim that we are overcharging or he will look for a rent deduction. Surely in any case he would have to demonstrate losses and there are none?

      Can we demonstrate what Inventory states that Bed 4 is not accessible?

      Can we state they have already allowed a fourth person not named on contract to live in Bed 4? Therefore we don't want to encourage further breaches or possible subletting? Contract states: "Ts will not take in lodgers, share occupation with anybody not on the tenancy agreement."

      Should T or we take any action vs Agent? It is their contract and we told them what the score was, albeit verbally. Agent still says access to the room is at our discretion.

      Also can we comeback with anything, seeing as Ts are also in breach of contract on several matters?

      I'm sure T will not find or want to find anywhere else to live if we threaten them with eviction, which we obviously don't want to do, but we could.

      No I haven't done any training in LL law - hence why I am asking for advice on this forum. Thanks.


        Who is named as landlord - agent or you or mum?

        The tenant's do not have to agree to any changes in tenancy. You cannot force them to other than s8/s21 eviction then offer new AST.
        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...


          Hi, as stated Mum is named LL.


            OP you have a lot of words but you are getting diverted from the crux of the ,matter

            a) Does or does not the tenancy agreement state explicitly that Room excluded - it seems not.

            b) See (a)

            It is pretty odd to have a joint tenancy that splits the rent by room.

            How do you suppose you are going to refurb room 4 given that you have no right to do that without the tenant's consent?


              Are the insurers and lenders aware that this is only a partial letting?


                To my mind, the salient points are as follows:
                1. As others have said, unless the fourth bedroom was explicitly excluded from the tenancy agreement then they are allowed to have access to it. I know you said it was excluded in the inventory -- this seems an odd way of doing it, and assuming it contradicts the AST (which presumably demises the whole house to the tenants) I'd suspect the AST would have primacy (although this is a potentially-complex legal point which, I suspect, depends on the extent to which the inventory can be seen as part of the contract -- if the AST was signed before the inventory, as they often are, I reckon there's no chance that restrictions to the demised premises made in the inventory would be held by a court to supersede the AST; however you'd need a lawyer's view on this really).
                2. The tenants are allowed to have overnight guests; even if there were a clause in the AST which purported to blanket-ban overnight guests this would probably be unenforceable as it would interfere with the tenant's overriding right to quiet enjoyment of the property.
                3. However, you state that under the terms of the AST the tenants are not allowed to sublet (i.e. accept any money from their overnight guests) or allow people who are not named on the tenancy agreement to live in the property (this is vaguer than subletting -- what counts as living in the property should probably be judged on a case-by-case basis, and probably can't be judged by a simple metric of how long someone has stayed in the property)
                I suggest it's on point 3 that your tenants may have breached the AST -- certainly if they are accepting money from the fourth person, and also it might be that he is "living" there as well. As for your remedy, however, the only one I can think of is a Section 8 notice, which would not be a great deal of help as even if you succeed in evicting them you won't get any rent for the rest of the year.

                I am sorry not to have been more helpful -- it does sound like you and your mother are in a difficult situation.


                  Thankyou JamesH, it's nice to hear a considered reply

                  They may be allowed to have access due to a cock up, but we will put a clear case forward as to why not. This will include 'their mate who stayed for 2 weeks' and how we now suspect they intend to use it for sub-letting. If T then decides to take further or sue, his choice. He will have to pay upfront and then have a hard time demonstrating a loss - he's already being charged a competitive rent for a 3 bed and not a 4 bed let.

                  The fact T is so aggressive about this small space only serves to prove imo that they do intend to have others staying/living in the room and not pay for it. Otherwise why go to all this trouble to list 'innocent' reasons as to why access is needed? Ventilation is a joke - they never open the bathroom window or their own bedroom windows so why would they bother for a room they don't even 'live' in?

                  It was never anyone's intention to mislead Ts, least of all ours. Agent has cocked up a bit on this by promising us he would not allow access to bed 4 then not stating that in the contract. Agent has supplied original advert stating it's a 3 bed house for a 2/3 student share max.

                  Ts University will also be having a word re his behaviour so all in all we feel a lot better. Hopefully we will get out of this, if he decides to sue after leaving, again, let him do it.


                    Yes there are other points & issues but I'm not sure you've appreciated the point:

                    (Unless there is a specific exclusion) it's their home, their property, to use as they see fit under the terms of the agreed, signed, tenancy: You cannot force them to accept any change or restriction to those rights.

                    Accept reality, handle the problem you've got, next tenancy have better control, more prior-approval of documents.

                    (I've made mistakes and been stuffed by them: It's not fun but you can't change reality)

                    Maybe join RLA or NLA and do some basic courses? Will save you more time & money than they cost ....
                    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...


                      The property they rent is defined by the tenancy agreement.
                      If the property is defined as the address (like most tenancy agreements and doesn't exclude any rooms), the room is included in the tenancy and the rent (and covered by the deposit).

                      Ending the tenancy for a (fairly minor) breach of the tenancy agreement is unlikely to succeed.

                      Renting a property and excluding a bedroom can cause issues with council tax liability.

                      I'd give it up.
                      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).


                        It sounds like the tenant has, understandably, got your back up but that's no reason to dig your heels in.

                        At the end of the day it is an unfurnished room. Just make sure the condition of the room is fully documented with photos and added to the inventory. Make it clear that any damage will be charged for in full and will be indisputable as it has been newly refurbished.

                        I guess you could always take the door of completely which would make it less likely to be used as a spare bedroom.

                        I've been a student. We had a big house and had people/friends sleeping on the couches in our living room most nights - some stretched it to a term. One guy eventually shacked up with one of the girls we were sharing with. 25 years later they are happily married with two kids. It's part and parcel of being a student and of being a student landlord.


                          As others have said, excluding a room is likely to make you responsible for the Council Tax and since students don't have to pay it you almost certainly couldn't recover the cost from them.

                          If one of the bedrooms is too small to let then this is no longer a suitable student let property for the reasons you've discovered. May be time to sell up


                            allow them access to the room - but remove any furniture you have in it first.


                              Originally posted by buzzard1994 View Post
                              allow them access to the room - but remove any furniture you have in it first.
                              Would that not be in breach of the tenancy agreement, assuming it's a furnished let (as student houses almost always are) and the furniture was there when the tenants viewed the house?


                              Latest Activity