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New Tenancy from hell - please help!!!

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423 views 1 replies latest reply: 07 April 2015
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Tenant

Dear all,

I’m new here, joined just now for the purpose of getting some urgent advice please.

I’m a self-emoloyed tutor working from home due to both kids having many health problems. We had to move from our rented home of 8 years as landlord’s son wanted to sell the property. We found another property through a letting agent and from the very first call I made, I was clear that I am a self-employed tutor working from home. We had two viewings, met the landlady before giving holding deposit and once again I was open and honest. Neither the landlady nor agents had any problems at that stage. We passed all references and then got send a draft TA which had a clause that said I couldn’t operate a business or work from home. So I queried it and got couple of email assurances from the agents that landlady is happy for me to tutor from home. They also emailed me an amended TA for 36 months ( as we requested) which had the concerned clause about working from home removed. They said landlady had asked for a 6 months break Clause which I agreed to. I emailed to query if I need land lady’s written assurance or what authority they have to give me this from landlady and once again their written response was that landlady is happy with everything. We paid over 6k in deposit and first months rent and moved in on 23rd March. There were quite a few let downs like property was not cleaned, landlady’s furniture was not removed etc but we have been very patient and compromising. Today I got a call from landlady saying a neighbour has complained that a parent parked in their bay. It’s a pay and display road with no special resident bays so the client was not doing anything wrong. Landlady then went off on one saying she never agreed to me teaching from home (which is a lie as she visited last week after I moved in and gave me a notice board as a gift and also said I should use one of her cupboards as book shelf). I said I would like to have a meeting with her today so that I can show her the contract and emails etc. she agreed to come at 7:30 pm but never turned up. She now says she will come tomorrow. I said I would like agents present as well. She says she did not give agents permission to remove clause about teaching from home and has not signed agreement. Despite chasing agents, they have not given me a copy of the agreement signed by them or landlady. I have also not had deposit protection certificate. 
Part of me says we should move out as soon as we can as landlady is a nightmare, but both my kids are sick and it’s going to be very hard to move once again. 

Sorry for such a long thread, please please would someone help on what my rights are and what I should say tomorrow in meeting. I pay full tax on self employed income by the way and do not claim a penny in benefits. My husband has a good job too and we are a quiet, honest and hardworking family. 

Thanks in advance…..

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Administrator

Hi Myra

When did you move in to the property? The deposit must be protected and you should be given the Prescribed Information (i.e. where the deposit is protected) within 30 days. If that hasn’t been done then you can apply to a county court to get the deposit repaid to you – or to have it paid into a scheme – and to apply for compensation between 1 and 3 times the amount of the deposit. There’s info on that here.

If the tenancy isn’t signed then that is an issue – if you don’t have a copy and you only moved in a couple of weeks ago then that’s not so bad but it’s always a good idea to get this on the day you move in. However, I can’t imagine an agent would allow you to move in without a valid tenancy agreement (who is the agency?). There’s also the fact that the landlady has clearly been behaving in a way that assumes you’re tenants and (although I’m not a lawyer) I imagine that would indicate she either has signed the tenancy or intended to (depending on when you moved in).

The instinct is always to run from someone like this but remember you have rights. Make sure you have done an inventory of the property as that’s always a flash point with these types of landlords and make sure your deposit is protected (or take the action mentioned above). Keep all your emails and take photos of everything relevant.

If the agents didn’t tell the landlord they were removing the working from home clause that’s not your problem. If the landlord has signed the tenancy but didn’t notice that clause was gone, again not your problem.

I think the first thing you need to do is see a signed copy of the tenancy from the agent – go into the office and wait until they hand it over. They should be able to find it if they’ve done their job. While you’re there ask for the Prescribed Information for the deposit. Don’t take any excuses with either of these and if they can’t produce them then make clear you know they’re at fault. Give them a time period of days in which to hand over both the docs before you complain to a professional body like the Property Ombudsman or take the landlord to court for the deposit (if the 30 days is up).

If the tenancy is signed then you’re probably fine legally and it will be a case of trying to calm the landlady down and show her that her interests are being protected and you’re considerate tenants who will look after her property – manage her a little.

If the tenancy isn’t signed then I would seek some legal advice either from the Citizens’ Advice or a law centre. If it isn’t signed then that tenancy doesn’t exist to protect either you or the landlord and you would have some other type of agrement (verbal?) – a lawyer can help clarify this if necessary.

Sorry that’s long but hopefully it gives you something to work with. 

Alex

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