Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
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    Default Rent Paid in Advance to Letting Agent, then I was asked to leave - Do they have to Pay me my rent back?

    Hi,

    I am hoping someone can offer me some advice on what has happened to me. I started renting a property in July 07 and I signed a 6 month short hold tenancy agreement. After the 6 months I agreed to rent the property on a month by month basis and no new agreement was signed. I was told by my letting agent (in a phone callicon, nothing was given to me in writing) that I needed to vacate the property I was in as the owner needed to move back in. I received the phone callicon on Friday 25th April 08, and I told the letting agent on 30th April that I had found another house to live in and I was in the process of moving out of the house and was cleaning it as I moved.
    Another thing you need to know is that in January 2008 I paid 3300 for rent in advance which covered me up to July 8th 2008.

    On 7th May 08 I told the letting agent I had moved out completely and I gave him the final meter readings. We then met up at the house on the 9th May to finalise the termination of the tenancy and to look at the house (the inventory etc). He never said anything was wrong apart from he thought some damage had been done to the skirting boards in one the bedrooms. I have to admit I had never noticed the damage before and he thought a knife had sliced into them. I paid for carpets to be fitted in the hallways, stairs and landings and that bedroom, but I am positive they cut the carpets outside down to size and then fitted them. I still never noticed the damage and I am not sure whether it was there when I moved in or not.

    I had also painted the main bedroom as there were six holes in the wall which I never did, and I showed them to the letting agent when we moved in (a previous tenant had drilled into the walls and it looks like a TV stand had been attached to the wall). The paint work in the corners of the room was also cracked and I didn't want the owner thinking I had done this, so I paid for someone to fill in the holes and paint the bedroom. There was a slight patch however on one of the walls the letting agent pointed out (which I couldn't see at the time when they had painted the room, it looked fine but maybe it hadn't dried properly). I wouldn't agree to get them back in to paint again because they did this as a favour to my father at very short notice. I know they did cover the walls with two coats of paint and my father thought they were cheeky for asking as it was a slight patch and I was only making the bedroom better than it was before. The letting agent paid me my deposit back in full however a few weeks later.

    I had also spent the following on the house whilst living there:

    • I spent 232.72 on a plumber at the end of October 07 because the boiler wasn't working and I had no heat or hot water.
    • I also paid 157.11 on the plumber in July to fit pipes in the kitchen for a dishwasher (there was only plumbing for a washing machine at the time).
    • I spent 600 having blinds fitted to all the windows. This made the house look better in my opinion as most new properties have them fitted, and they are a good security deterrent.
    • I had new carpets fitted, which cost over 600 just for the carpets as the cost of fitting was an extra 65. The carpets I replaced were quite worn and the carpet that was in the hallway had gone a grey colour in places. It really was a marked improvement overall and I would have thought it made the house more marketable.
    • I had a fireplace made specifically for the fire and hearth. Because of the size and shape of the fire and hearth I couldn't just go into a showroom and buy one, so I had one made. The fireplace cost 276 to be made to measured. All that was there before that was a gas fire on a marble hearth.
    • I paid 39.99 for a bathroom cabinet, as the on-suite didn't have one and it didn't even have a mirror in there, so I thought this would make it more attractive and the main bathroom already had one.
    • The shed that was there originally was damaged in the terrible winds we kept having earlier on this year, and there was major damage to the roof, a window actually came out and there was some damage to the door. I was told that it would probably be better to buy a new shed than to even try to make repairs to it. Based on this advice I bought a new shed for the property at a cost of 449.99 and I also bought a garden chest for 139.99. The chest is ideal for garden tools, but it would also be good for putting children's outdoor toys in it etc.
    • I bought a compost bin at a cost of 40. This is because the garden wasn't in great shape to start with, and my friend (who teaches landscaping and gardening at a local college) told me this would help it by feeding the lawn, I could also use it on flower beds etc.
    • I replaced a fence panel which was broken after I found out that the owner of the property was responsible for that side of the fence (and it was not broken by me I would like to add), and that cost 15. I was going to replace all the back fence panels as well, but I didn't get chance to do that before finding out I had to leave.
    • I also spent over 20 on bags of decorative stones to go around the shed and I paid a gardener to place the stepping stones in a different pattern, as well as work on the lawn and re-seed it etc. The weather had been terrible, and the drainage in the garden was terrible so over winter it had turned into sludge.
    So in total I spent over 2,400 on the house in the space of 9 months (I was given the impression that it would be a long term let).

    The letting agent told me on the 10th May (which is a day after I had met up with him to terminate the tenancy at the house) that the owner had now been to the house and they had telephoned the letting agent as they were not happy with the paint in the bedroom and the skirting boards in the smaller bedroom. I eventually said that if they weren't happy they could take the cost for putting new skirting boards in the small bedroom (or filling the slices in and then re-painting them) and the cost of painting the main bedroom again out of the deposit that they owed me, but I wanted receipts to make sure I wasn't being ripped off and I wanted the rent they owed me re-paid back in full. Since then they have not contacted me about the money that is owed to me and the letting agent paid me my deposit back in full, which suggested to me that they decided not to fix anything and I would also be receiving the rent I paid in advance back as well. I have not received the money back for the rent that I had paid in advance though (I think they owe me two months rent unless notice periods have to be considered) and they have produced no receipts for any work that they have carried out (so I know what any repairs actually cost that they carried out and they were not ripping me off).

    Do they owe me the 2 months rent or is there a legal notice period I need to take into account? If I am owed the rent I paid in advance back for the 2 months I was not there what do I need to do to get it back? I feel like I have been very silly in what I have done, and the money I paid out for the house, and now I feel like I am being ripped off but I don’t know where I stand from a legal point of view. Can anyone give me any advice on this (and I am sorry this post seems so long, I just wanted to try to get the whole picture across). Thanks in advance for any help you can offer me on this matter.


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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Rent Paid in Advance to Letting Agent, then I was asked to leave - Do they have to Pay me my rent back?

    You are owed the rent, as there was a mutual agreement to terminate the tenancy. The only possible problem is that you do not have this in writing, but it does not appear that they are disputing the agreeance to terminate the tenancy.

    For your future reference, tenants these days have VERY little security of tenure. As such it is advisable not to perform any kind of improvement works in this fashion without a) written consent from the landlord and b) a long term WRITTEN agreement.

    7 years in retail customer service

    Expertise in letting and rental law for 6 years


    By trade - I'm an IT engineer working in the housing sector.

    Please note that any posts made by myself are for information only and should not and must not be taken as correct or factual. If in doubt, consult with a solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

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    Default Re: Rent Paid in Advance to Letting Agent, then I was asked to leave - Do they have to Pay me my rent back?

    Hi,

    Thanks for the response. I did get written consent to replace the carpets and they were fitted Sept 07. The letting agent then inspected the property in Feb 08 and never said there was anything wrong with them or the skirting boards. I also got written consent to alter the garden. I thought I had to pay for the plumbing myself after reading my tenancy agreement, but it turns out I was wrong on this front but it was paid so there wasn't much I could do about it. It is the first house I ever rented so I think I was a bit naive. I certainly won't be doing this again as I have learnt my lesson.

    Am I owed the full 2 months rent back as I moved out on 7th May, we officially terminated the agreement on 9th May when he inspected the house, and I paid up till July 8th 2008?

    Thanks again for your help on this.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Rent Paid in Advance to Letting Agent, then I was asked to leave - Do they have to Pay me my rent back?

    IMO, you are owed the full 2 months rent back, yes. The only way this could become problematic is if they deny having agreed to termination. I think this could be fairly easily argued against in court.

    Take it as a learning experience

    7 years in retail customer service

    Expertise in letting and rental law for 6 years


    By trade - I'm an IT engineer working in the housing sector.

    Please note that any posts made by myself are for information only and should not and must not be taken as correct or factual. If in doubt, consult with a solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

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    Default Re: Rent Paid in Advance to Letting Agent, then I was asked to leave - Do they have to Pay me my rent back?

    Hi again,

    The letting agent has now got back to me regarding the rent back that I paid in advance and he said the following:

    "I let you know in April that the landlady required the house back at the end of your tenancy i.e. 8th July 2008. You notified me on 30th April that you had sourced an alternative property and were making plans to move out of the property. I took this notification as one months notice for you to surrender your tenancy to take effect from the next rental day i.e. 9th May 2008. I checked you out and confirmed the meter reads on 9th May and agreed to return the deposit and speak to the landlady about refunding the final months rent i.e. 9th June to 8th July.

    I will speak again with the landlady and let you know the outcome of my
    discussion with her."

    Does anyone know if this is correct? He never said the owner wanted the property back in July, which I why I was in a panic to find somewhere and basically opted for the first house I found in April. I have nothing from the letting agent in writing regarding the owner wanting the house back as he did it via a phone callicon.

    I notified him in writing that I was moving out on 30th April 08, and then I again notified him in writing on 7th May 08 that I had moved out finally and everything was cleaned and ready for inspection. On the 9th May the letting agent met me at the house and checked the meter readings I gave were correct, and that the house was OK. I then gave him the keys back and I have not been there since. Is the waiting a month legally correct, and if it is should it not be from 30th April 08 when I said I was moving out? I also paid him the money, so why does he have to speak to the owner of the house about this (unless he gave the owner the 6 months rent in advance all at once)?

    Any advice would be much appreciated, as I don't know whether to see the CAB or a solicitor for advice on this.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Rent Paid in Advance to Letting Agent, then I was asked to leave - Do they have to Pay me my rent back?

    IMO incorrect, but your problem is proving it. CAB are useless, you dont need a solicitor. Sue in small claimsicon as required.

    7 years in retail customer service

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    By trade - I'm an IT engineer working in the housing sector.

    Please note that any posts made by myself are for information only and should not and must not be taken as correct or factual. If in doubt, consult with a solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

    Please click the star if I have helped!!
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