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Ex-landlord/ employer problem - advice needed!

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424 views 1 replies latest reply: 23 September 2015
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Tenant

I need advice to where I stand with my old landlord; the situation is not straightforward so I’ll try my best to explain. I lived in his property for 2 and a half years, and moved out last June. He was my landlord and my boss for this time. We both left his old company and started a new one, it didn’t work out and now it feels like he’s harassing me over the property I used to live in – 4 months after I moved out. 

The initial tenancy agreement was for 12 months; after this I moved out for 5 and then back in to the same property – the original agreement still stood because a new one was never provided. It stated there would be an inventory check carried out – there wasn’t. It was also signed by the landlord on behalf of the old company to be the guarantor for me and asked for no deposit (I was a student at the time). It also states that the landlord has to provide a check-out inventory within 21 days – he sent it 109 days later. 

He’s now inspected the property and sent me a list of faults and charges, and is demanding for me to pay within 7 days. Whilst I acknowledge that there was a couple of things I should have sorted before I left (a stain on the carpet, a couple of pinholes to fill and a lightbulb to change), he’s trying to enforce I pay £300+. I’m currently unemployed (which he knows because I no longer work for him) and I’ve had to move back home into my parents because I have no money whatsoever. 

He’s also demanding I pay outstanding utility bills – the rent for the property was £450 and included water rates and electricity, and I would pay the council tax. The contract stated that if the allowance for the bills (£50 a month) was exceeded, then it would be reflected in the rent due. The whole time I was there, the rent never changed and the landlord never mentioned an increase to be paid – he was my boss and I saw him 3-4 times a week in the office – it never came up once. To note – I have never paid the rent late, always reported problems and repairs in the property, always paid the council tax and other bills on time, and kept the property to a good, clean standard (albeit one accident with a bottle of wine and a couple of pictures on the wall). 

Basically, I need advice on where I stand legally with all this? He knows I’m not in a financial position to pay anything, and he’s also at fault with parts of the contract he signed also. I’ve drawn up a response to his request, and have offered to pay for the products and a professional carpet clean, the sum of which comes to £65. If he doesn’t accept, will he be able to take me to court? The guarantor clause states that they would be liable for all unpaid rent, utility bills, damages, etc. so surely because I’m not in a position to pay, the responsibility falls to them? Which in turn is the landlord (him). Could he still proceed to sue me? This is a mess – please help!! 

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Administrator

Hi Daisy

Does the contract mention a deposit being paid? I know there wasn’t one paid but I wondered if the tenancy mentioned it at all. The point of a deposit is to provide a fund from which the landlord can claim losses such as those he wants now. If there had been a deposit then there would have been an obligation to protect it with a deposit protection scheme. If that wasn’t done by the landlord then you are the one who could claim compensation (1-3 times the amount of the deposit paid). However, as there’s no deposit paid the landlord doesn’t have a way of getting that money back other than by taking you to court.

In practice, that means making a small claim against you. I’m not a lawyer so if you want rock solid legal advice then you need to speak to Citizens Advice or visit a law centre. However, as far as I’m aware the claim would still require the landlord to prove the loss in order to be compensated for it. He couldn’t just say to the court ‘i want £300’ and they’d give it to him. Do you think he could have the proof of damage or loss? It would need to be proven to have happened before you moved out.

With the utility bills, that just seems malicious. If the tenancy says it should have been reflected in the monthly rent then it should have been reflected in the monthly rent. Again, the landlord needs to provide proof of this.

In terms of the guarantee, yes it would fall to them to pay initially but the guarantor could then come after you. So he would have to pay the money himself to the person it is owed to (himself) and then claim it from you as the guarantor rather than the landlord. I think…it’s a very complex situation as you say.

So, in short, yes he can make a claim against you but he will have to prove loss to be successful. And the courts don’t really take kindly to frivolous or malicious claims that waste their time. it’s probably a good idea to send your offer – show you want to settle the matter without a full blown dispute – and if he doesn’t accept it then ask for the proof of the losses. If he still doesn’t accept it then you could suggest a mediator. This will put you in a good light if it does end up in court as you’ve tried to settle without court action and should also cost less.

Hope that helps but, as I said, I’m not a lawyer so your first port of call might be the two links I gave you above.

Alex

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