Foreign students - discrimination?

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    Foreign students - discrimination?

    I am LL, I have a group of students applying to move in, one of which is an EU national - the docs look as though they will pass right to rent checks, but I am asking (as I normally do) that non UK students pay the years rent up front.
    Potential group have said this is discrimination. I agree, I am discriminating based on country of origin/residence, but is it illegal?

    #2
    As this is a group of tenants I presume you are taking one tenancy agreement which will usually include joint and several liability. This means that you require one rent payment of for example £1,200 from the tenants for the rent of the house and in the event of one tenant not paying their share the others will have to pay the difference. It sounds like the tenants may accept this concept - or conversely do they believe you have an individual contract for £300 per month with each of them and if the EU citizen does not pay you will chase the defaulter, and only them, for the lost rent?

    Usually for convenience and fairness the tenants split the rent into four payments and all pay an equal amount to you. Also for fairness you take a guarantee from each of the four tenants although under joint and several clauses in guarantees if you take four guarantees then all tenants and all guarantors are each responsible for the total £1,200 per month rent.

    So in answering your 'discriminating against the EU tenant' question you need to explain why you require a whole year rent upfront and the answer will lie in your treatment of a defaulting student tenant and your protection against such a situation

    For background I used to let to foreign students and on the whole I found them to be good tenants although high rents in England made most of them very careful and mindful of costs. I most times took no guarantee or had one signed by email but never had to recourse to law to test whether it was enforceable.

    Comment


      #3
      If you are treating the EU national differently than the other students because they are an EU national, that sounds like discrimination to me and nationality is a protected characteristic.
      So, yes, it's illegal.

      If you are treating the person differently because they are unable to satisfy a UK credit check, and you would treat anyone who was in the same situation in the same way, that probably isn't discrimination.

      As above, if this is a joint tenancy agreement, you can't have different payment terms for one of the joint tenants (as far as I have been able to work out).
      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


        #4
        Hi jpkeates thanks for answering my question. The issue is I do not want to enter into an agreement with someone who I would find it difficult to chase through the courts- as their intention would be to return to their home country after Uni. I think there is a European small claims court, I cannot imagine enforcement is easy though.
        I have been a landlord for 20 years. My normal procedure is that I remind the other tenants that in a joint and several agreement that they would potentially be liable if the non UK resident were to go home. The payment terms are unchanged. Because we only sign the contract after the non UK tenants rent is paid up for the academic year, and the others have paid a month in advance. So any enforceable aspects do not exist.

        Comment


          #5
          That would (in my view, and I am not in a position to give legal advice) absolutely be illegal discrimination.

          If the agreement is joint and several with all of the occupants, they are essentially all one tenant and all liable for all of the rent.
          So asking one person to pay a substantial amount upfront without making a similar demand of the other occupants is discrimination and the reason is that the person being discriminated against has a protected characteristic.

          Moreover, the "protection" you are giving yourself is somewhat illusory, because it only works if everyone goes along with it.

          The tenants don't have individual rent to pay, they all owe all of the rent each month.

          Let's say that there are 4 tenants and one pays 12 quarters of the monthly rent in advance, there's not actually any rent due until the fourth month, because you will have received more than 3 month's rent before the tenancy begins.
          And if the other tenants make monthly payments in the meantime, it would be even later.
          So, for example, if the tenants didn't pay any rent at the start of months 2 and 3, there's nothing you could do about it.

          And if the other joint tenants are making payments which is meant to be rent, but without any rent actually due, those payments are possibly a deposit, not rent.

          Alternatively, because the one person is making a payment which is to cover you from a default by the tenant as a whole later in the tenancy - to cover the possibility that the person from overseas goes home before the end of the tenancy and the remaining occupants decline to make additional payments to compensate, that's also possibly a deposit, not rent.

          How much of this matters in real life - where getting someone to prosecute you for illegal discrimination would be next to impossible, the tenant isn't losing enough to make a civil claim sensible and the chances of anyone trying to sue you for not protecting a theoretical deposit seem remote - I don't know.



          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 again for your consideration.
            Let's say that there are 4 tenants and one pays 12 quarters of the monthly rent in advance, there's not actually any rent due until the fourth month, because you will have received more than 3 month's rent before the tenancy begins.
            And if the other tenants make monthly payments in the meantime, it would be even later.
            So, for example, if the tenants didn't pay any rent at the start of months 2 and 3, there's nothing you could do about it.

            I have considered this, and I don't see a problem with it. The UK tenants would still be responsible for the rent in the end, but I wouldn't have an issue with chasing the UK based ones (in the event that they didn't pay in the end) as I know the Eu one has paid.
            I think part of the problem here is that despite the joint and several liability, I have a distaste for the idea of chasing tenants 2, 3, & 4 for money that 1 hasn't paid. Well actually I have a distaste for chasing anyone, but I think if you know you can skip home to France and it will be very difficult for the LL to chase you, it makes you less motivated to pay in the event that you decide to quit Uni.
            What I am trying to avoid is any legal action on my part at all. So if they decide to reapportion who pays what and when, no problem.
            I think it is theoretical, the reality is (I have been doing this for 20 years) they never do things like this, each person feels the responsibility of their own rent liabilities and pays when it is due. The tenants behave as though it is individual tenancies.

            to cover the possibility that the person from overseas goes home before the end of the tenancy and the remaining occupants decline to make additional payments to compensate, that's also possibly a deposit, not rent.
            It isn't assuming they would decline, if the rent is paid, there is nothing to ask for? Your position assumes I would say - "hey no 1 hasn't paid, you are liable for his rent, even though he has already paid his rent, you are now liable and I will refund him when you make the payment."
            They aren't liable, the rent has been paid.

            And if the other joint tenants are making payments which is meant to be rent, but without any rent actually due, those payments are possibly a deposit, not rent.
            I don't see how this is the case, nothing is returnable at the end. Imagine if a tenant voluntarily offers to pay all the rent in advance (I have had this happen many times) do I suddenly become liable for deposit protection?

            How much of this matters in real life - where getting someone to prosecute you for illegal discrimination would be next to impossible, the tenant isn't losing enough to make a civil claim sensible and the chances of anyone trying to sue you for not protecting a theoretical deposit seem remote - I don't know.
            Yes I think this too, none of it is in writing so it would be hard to prove.

            Anyway, its moot, they decided not to take it and I have rented to another group.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by toys19 View Post
              Anyway, its moot, they decided not to take it and I have rented to another group.
              That's good to know.

              Purely for the avoidance of doubt, if there were four joint tenants, you wouldn't just sue three of them for any rent owed, you'd sue all four of them and only three of them would be affected by the outcome, so they'd be incentivised to settle.
              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
                Well the point of J&S is that you can sue whichever one you want. I l know I have done it.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by toys19 View Post
                  Well the point of J&S is that you can sue whichever one you want. I l know I have done it.
                  Did it get to court?
                  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
                    Yes - 2007 (I think) - I fitted a new kitchen over the summer and on 1st Sept when they (5 tenants) were due to move in, there was till some snagging to do. Half kitchen doors were missing, the ones that were there had no handles and the brand new hob was missing one knob.
                    Irritatingly the knob was obscure (bought an old stock italian stainless gas hob) and it took weeks for a knob to arrive, plus it wasn't the same as any other knob you could buy so I couldn't even put in any old knob or a universal one for functionality. Howdens kitchen by the way - never again.

                    By the end of sept all was done, however I refunded the whole month (this I discovered later was naïve/excessive as they had free use of the property).
                    Anyway one tenant - her father took a dislike to me, she withheld her last months rent as the first month refund was not enough for her (£300) the others disagreed.
                    Small claims, I only sued her as the others had paid theirs and I could prove it. On advice of my solic.
                    I claimed my 300, plus fees plus something else I cant remember - came to 370.Luckily I had photos of everything.
                    I remember some lines written by my solic about J&S and how we had selected this T to claim from as we could show the others had paid a fair share.
                    Father (well daughter, but Dad did it) counterclaimed for 1k including hotels and two days off work so he could attend court. Judge dismissed father pretty much, said his presence was not relevant or something. Asked daughter a few key questions, could she answer on her own behalf etc (to shut Dad up I think) and about what she did in the house during the September and ascertained that she had free use of the property and the snagging didn't really spoil her day, told me I was a good LL and V generous, and awarded me my claim.
                    Dad paid me by bank transfer on 29th day after judgement.
                    TBH I should not have bothered for 300, but I felt that I needed to for some reason.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks for the response - that's interesting to know and really helpful!
                      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


                        #12
                        The lesson learned is that they thought that because I have offered the month back (£1500, £300 each) then I must have been bargaining so she was probably due more. I think it was greed on the Dads part, maybe.
                        Bargaining is not the way I work, I always prefer to be on the front foot so I can go into any situation knowing that I have done the right thing, I prefer to give them nothing to complain about.
                        I did not know what was correct but I thought a month free was hopefully enough for me to be on the front foot. As it turned out, it was ridiculously generous, my solic and the judge told me that legally they were due nothing, I could show that I had done everything in my power to fix the problems, which were arguably minor.
                        So these days, whilst I am still generous as I prefer to have a good relationship with my tenants, I am also much more cautious about what I will do to make up for any problems. Funnily enough, I have much better relationships with my tenants.

                        Comment

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