Marc Gander - The Consumer Survival Handbook


A 220 page introduction to all things consumer related by our own BankFodder.

Includes energy companies, mobile phone providers, retailers, banks, insurance companies,debt collection agencies, reclaim companies, secondhand car sellers, cowboy garages, cowboy builders and all the rest who put their own profits before you.

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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.

£19.99 + £1.50 (P&P)


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  1. #1
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    anxie12 Novitiate



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    Default Are we responsible for these charges (business rates)?

    Hi All,

    I am new to this Forum but my husband and I need some help, guidance and/or support please on this very long running, frustrating matter.

    6 September 2011, the Lease on our business premises expired and the keys were collected by the Agent on the 7 September. We got him to sign for them as confirmation of the end of the Lease because the Landlord had been sending very nasty text disputing the expiry date and demanding more money.

    8th September 2011, we asked the Agent if we could rent the property for 3 weeks in order to sell off some goods from another business which we had closed down some months ago, at £100/week. It was agreed and he brought us the key. However, later the same day, we cancelled the agreement because we managed to sell everything as a job-lot.

    At the same time, our decorator (who was in between jobs at the time) said he would repaint the interior walls as we had used silk on them and it should have been matt emulsion. He would do it free of charge. He then got a job but said he would still do it, as promised, when free.

    We explained all this to the Agent and said it was a gesture of goodwillicon. He said it was ok and just hand the keys back when the decorator had finished. True to his word, the decorator completed the job a couple of weeks later. We told the Agent who said he would come for the keys but he only came for them on 17th October 2011.

    We never thought anything more about this until we received a lettericon (the first of many), from the Landlord himself, from his home address, on 12 January 2012.

    In his usual inimitable way, he was demanding money for allegedly using his back yard, having our bins under his fire escape, rental for the time the decorator had the key … in total £933.00 and if we didn’t pay, he would sue us for £2,070.00 … the equivalent to 2 months rent of the old Lease.

    We, of course, responded to each of his points and eventually, told him to stop with his threats and to go ahead and sue us (20 March 2012). We never heard anything more from him although he had told the tenants in the flat above the premises to get us to sort out the problems with their leaking roof!! They themselves reminded him it was not our responsibility but his.

    It was the beginning of February 2012 when we first received a Council bill for the outstanding business rates for the period 7 Sept – 17 Oct 2011 for a total amount of £889.28. We explained that we were under no Contract whatsoever to the Landlord for that period and the lease had expired on 6 September 2011. They showed little interest and said if we were unable to resolve the matter, the best course of action would be to let the case go the Magistrates Court for them to settle. We said we were Ok with that.

    We had a summons for 5 October 2012 but when my husband arrived, the officer said he would adjourn it so that both parties could be present. However since then, they seem to have sided with the Landlord. We now have a Liability Order hearing for the 22 February 2013 as “the Landlord and his agent have both provided confirmation that the keys for the premises were not returned until 17 October and, as such you are liable for the empty property charges until that date”

    We are very surprised that the matter has been allowed to reach this point. We have supplied the Council with written confirmation of the end of the Lease etc. but they have obviously sided with the Landlord.

    We believe the Landlord is just being vindictive because we did not continue with his Lease – the main reason being he had said he would only increase the rent by £50/month (£600/annum) as he did previously but when the Lease arrived, he had actually increased it by £5K/annum.

    We moved our business next door which we have spent a great deal on to refurbish to our needs (like we did with his premises) which must have angered him even more hence the unfounded demands for extra money as described above, and the fact that his property was left empty for a very long time.

    We actually moved out of his premises March 2011 and left them empty and in a much better condition then when we first moved in. The Agent had been round to check everything and if he was not happy, he would not have taken back the key and confirmed the end of the Lease. And why would we leave the property empty for so long and then re-rent it after the lease expires just to paint it? That is their argument and the council believe them.

    The Agent apparently cannot recall the Verbal Agreement being cancelled but if it hadn’t, surely he would have been in touch with us to collect the agreed rent and not left it to the Landlord to chase 5 months later.

    We do not have any legal background or knowledge but do not believe we should be liable for these rates based on a Lease which had already expired. Can anyone clarify our position and how we should present our case on the 22 February?
    Many thanks.


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Are we responsible for these charges (business rates)?

    I will flag for the site team for you.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: FAO Andrew - hearing date 22 February, but needs advice before please

    If they stopped trading on 6th Sept 2011... that's all that is needed assuming notice was given as required by the the Lease.The rest is nonsense you are only responsible for the business rates whilst trading.The LO need challenging and can not be decided on when the keys were handed back.
    If the period from Sept 2011 to March 2012 (whilst retaining the keys) prevented the LL from renting the space to new Tenant..that is a separate matter...but nothing to do with Business Rates.


  4. #4
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    anxie12 Novitiate



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    Default Re: Are we responsible for these charges (business rates)?

    Thank you for this. This is also our view but we were worried by the stance of the Council seemingly taking the Landlords side despite our written evidence of the end of the lease.


  5. #5
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    anxie12 Novitiate



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    Default Re: FAO Andrew - hearing date 22 February, but needs advice before please

    Should we challenge the LO now or wait for the hearing itself?


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Are we responsible for these charges (business rates)?

    Now it may be to late once it gets to hearing


  7. #7
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    Default Re: FAO Andrew - hearing date 22 February, but needs advice before please

    The hearing was this morning and we lost. The reason being we had the keys! We are going to appeal though.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Are we responsible for these charges (business rates)?

    I should think you are anxie.........possession of the keys is not a liability to trading.


  9. #9
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    anxie12 Novitiate



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    Default Re: Are we responsible for these charges (business rates)?

    The Council said they are not charging us full business rates but rates for empty property. They also gave the Agent a very big hint that he could also now charge us rental for that period. We have been advised that going to Appeal would be very costly and would probably not change the result because we had the keys!! With court costs etc it is already over £900.00 and if the Landlord now charges us rent, it is going to make things very difficult to manage.

    It all seems so unfair but it has taught us a lesson, and we hope it can serve as a warning to others, especially when dealing with unscrupulous Landlords and their Agents ... Don't hold on to keys, hand them back immediately!! Thanks for your help but I don't think we can take this any further.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Are we responsible for these charges (business rates)?

    Wise decision anxie...you cant beat the Rip off Britain culture.

    Andy



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