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Freeloader Landlord

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194 views 4 replies latest reply: 04 September 2017
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Tenant

Hi Everyone.

So my 3 housemates and I have just moved into a new house. At the time we signed the contract, the landlord informed that bills were included (at an estimated rate based on what the previous tenants used – though it mostly consists of flat rate bills) and that he lived half the year in a flat in the basement of our place.

We didn’t realise the link between those two things: it turns out that his “flat” is in fact just a few rooms in the basement and that utility bills for the “two” properties are the same. He is essentially just freeloading off us – contributing nothing to the bills himself.

This even extends to the internet – in fact, the reason we found out about this link is that we changed the router password and, shortly afterwards, he let himself into our property to check why it wasn’t working. He didn’t even knock!

We’ve called him up on this and he says he won’t contribute as his usage of the utilities is “negligible” – I shit you not, he said he only has “hop-in, hop-out showers”.

I have literally never heard of this situation happening before so I have no idea what the legal precedent is.

We feel that as we weren’t informed of the situation upon signing the contract, the contract itself is on shaky grounds.

We also feel that he may be on some pretty shaky legal ground himself with regards to not paying for his own TV licence (as it is a section of the house separated by a locked door), or other utilities.

So, what do you guys think? We’ve already sent a message asking him to contribute to the bills to which he has said no. What are the next steps?

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Tenant

Hello, 

First of all, the landlord has no right to “let himself in” the property. You can exercise your right to quiet enjoyment and warn them that subsequent entries without approval can be treated as trespass.

Second, you can install smart meters in the property, which are free of charge. They will help you monitor who is using how much of the utilities and therefore how much the landlord owes you for their usage. 

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Tenant

I’m not sure that I am reading your post correctly, but it sounds as though you (and your flatmates) are paying an “all-inclusive” rent, with no itemisation of usage.

If that is the case, then I’m not sure you have a great deal to complain about.

The bulk of the rent that you are paying will be for the rental of the property. And your landlord is charging a rent that you agreed to pay.

If he had been charging a higher (slightly or greatly) rent, would the four of you still agreed to move in?

What if he agrees to contribute £50 a month to bills, but at next renewal, increases your rent by £100 a month? Will you feel like he is treating you more fairly?

Again: I am working on the assumption that you are all paying an all-inclusive rent. So please do forgive me if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick.

If the “all inclusive” bills are a separate, flat-rate monthly payment in addition to your rental payment, then you may have a case to ask him to share the usage costs. But if he is taking care of paying all the bills, dealing with all of the suppliers and so on, and your contributions to the bills *ARE* included in the single rental payment you are making… Then to be honest, you should consider yourselves quite lucky, and not really begrudge your landlord’s use of the utilities that he is sharing with you.

I suppose if you really wanted to redress any balance you feel is unfair, you could just start using the electricity, Internet Service &c. excessively… But again, you should bear in mind that he will be in the more commanding position when it comes to renewal negotiations.

On the other point, as Audrey has already pointed out: your landlord has no right to “let himself in” to the property you are renting.

Hope you manage to reach a suitable accomdation/acceptance.

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Tenant

I’m not sure that I am reading your post correctly, but it sounds as though you (and your flatmates) are paying an “all-inclusive” rent, with no itemisation of usage.”

This is incorrect. The bills are itemised and there is a clause that he will add up how much the bills came to at the end of the year and refund/charge us as required. So his use of utilities directly impacts upon that.

In addition, the fact he is using the same router and internet connection raises privacy concerns and limits the utility we actually get from the router – for example, we now don’t want to enable network sharing as we did in our previous flat.

So I’d say that there is plenty to complain about.

As for renewal negotiations, I’d say that there is 99.9% certainty that we’ll be moving elsewhere next year due to our jobs, so that doesn’t really factor into it.

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