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Lia7769

Ex landlord wants to sue us for £7k!

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Hi,

I am having a nightmare situation with my ex landlord. Last year I lived with 3 friends in a house share in London. The house was fairly new, the landlord lived next door and we rarely had problems with him.

On handing our notice in, he inspected the house for 10 minutes and posted a letter through the door saying we owed him over £7000 in damages.:confused: These were for ridiculous things, like rectifying a damp problem in the bathroom, relaying the wooden floors in their entirety, repainting every wall in the house etc, 2 weeks ‘lost rent’ while he did the alleged repairs. He basically wanted us to refurbish the house.

The house was left in immaculate condition. Of course there was general wear and tear i.e a smudge on the wall here and there, but absolutely nothing equating to what he was claiming.

We had a meeting with him, and he was vile….Very aggressive in telling us that we had to write him a cheque on the spot for the full amount, and then he would return our deposit. He didn’t seem to understand that he is supposed to use the deposit rather than have us pay for things. The deposit was unprotected as our rent exceeds the qualifying amount to go in a scheme,,,,

Obviously we were all distraught at this and took legal advice straight away. We know what he would be liable to claim for, and the majority of his claims are legally unfounded (I hope). Also, the house was splashed over property websites as soon as we vacated saying it was available immediately, which shows he had no intention of making repairs. There was also no inventory which helps our case.

After much deliberation we filed a small claims form against him, complete with extensive pictures of the property, for the full refund of our £3000 deposit. Apparently he has now counterclaimed for an amount between £5k - £15k (the court won’t disclose) and we should wait to here whether the judge will keep it in small claims or put it along a different real court track.

I just wondered if anyone knows which track the court allocates unprotected deposits on? This case needs to stay in the small claims otherwise I don’t even know where to start with a fast track case. We can’t afford legal representation etc. I know we are in the right and we do have a good case, but I am so worried about the lies he plans to tell.

Any advice very much appreciated!!!!

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You'll need to check this further, but the Housing Act 2004 - which covers deposits amongst other things - quite clearly states that a deposit, if taken, must be placed into an approved protection scheme. If it is not, the tenant is liable to claim not only their deposit back, but also three times the same amount in punitive fees (as outlined under section 214(4) of said Act).

 

If a landlord does not take a deposit, but still takes money (say in the form of charging double rent for the first month) - which is perfectly fine from a legal standpoint - then that money must be returned at the end of the tenancy and can only be legally deducted against rent arrears; never against damage to the property.

 

Whether this covers your deposit situation - given its size - I'm not qualified to say; but it's definitely worth checking out. All the relevant sections are covered under sections 212 to 215 of the Housing Act 2004, which can be found here.

Edited by Tezcatlipoca

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Lia7769,

 

Can you confirm how much your rent was per month and how was the rent payment expressed in your tenancy agreement? I.e. did you each have your own tenancy agreements where it stated that you would pay X amount individually OR where you all listed on one tenancy agreement where the rent was listed as XXX per month (the total per month for the entire property) and you subsequently split it through your own personal agreement?

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Our deposit was £3100. Because our annual rent exceeded the threshold (£24k I think) we don't qualify for a tenancy deposit scheme. It's a ridiculous loophole, as many London rentals exceed to limit just because it's so expensive.....

 

We were all listed on one tenancy agreement and we just split the rent between us....

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Our deposit was £3100. Because our annual rent exceeded the threshold (£24k I think) we don't qualify for a tenancy deposit scheme. It's a ridiculous loophole, as many London rentals exceed to limit just because it's so expensive.....

 

We were all listed on one tenancy agreement and we just split the rent between us....

 

Thats what I was getting at.

 

Tezcatlipoca you need to stop throwing the tenancy depsoit scheme around willy nilly, thats twice in as many posts you have incorrectly pointed it out!!

 

Lia, I believe there will be an allocations hearing to decide which track your claim will be dealt in Civil Procedure Rules

 

If no pain no gains about they will know - maybe PM them?

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Ok thanks, I will check those out. Could we actually get done for what he is saying i.e a damp problem and the wooden floors? The floors look like any other wooden floor that's been walked on for a year, but he swears blind that it's damage and not wear and tear.

I know we're right, but his failure to budge is making me question myself!

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Guest Alison82

Is he having a laugh!! Damp doesn't just come up overnight, there is obviously an underlying problem that he needs to address, the flooring; how can he justify changing the whole floor, he has to claim for wear and tear. If he decides to repaint the whole property then he has to be prepared to loss of rent.

 

Make sure you have copies to the adverts he put up.

 

Don't be too worried the judges are not silly, they will see straight through it, my judge has quite a chuckle at my ex-LL counterclaim.

 

I'm not sure about the threshold but from what I see (and after 1.5 years battling in court from my ex-LL) he hasn't got a chance!!

 

Good Luck

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I know, he is just deluded!! I really hope the judges will see the truth. Yes, we have copies of all of the ads he posted 2 days after we moved out, so I hope this will be evidence enough to show he is a liar.

Out of interest, did you successfully claim against your ex LL?

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Guest Alison82

Hi, yes I did, however we're having trouble actually getting the money from him, it's about £5k!!

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Lia, I am interested in your case because I have a client with a remarkably similar problem. I was wondering if we are talking here about the same landlord. Can you tell me which area of London was it, did landlord's name is the same as a very popular garden flower and are you a student?


[sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

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Hi Joa, the house was in Acton, he owns a number of properties in the west london area. We were all young professionals. Not sure about the flower but his initials are A.A if that helps. Are you a legal rep or a tenant out of interest?

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Right, my client's l/lord is in West London too but different initials and he rents out mainly to students.

Thanks anyway.


[sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

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From your experience do you feel we have a decent case?? Also, are you sure it's not the same one. It's a long shot, but this man also claims to be a lawyer, landscape gardener abnd a property developer. Non of which he is, so there is always the chance he uses different names...

Edited by Lia7769

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just wondered if there was any more advice out there??

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Did the Landlord do a proper check-in inventory, which you agreed to and signed? If not, he will have a hard job proving that the condition the flat was in at the end of the tenancy was any different from its condition at the beginning.

 

Also, someone mentioned you paying for wear and tear. Not so. You should only lose deposit for damage (eg red wine on the carpet:)). Reasonable wear and tear is expected.

 

Don't panic. He is obviously a bully and thinks he can get away with this.

 

As Alison82 pointed out, judges aren't daft, and they do seem to favour tenants unless there are real grounds not to.


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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No, there was no inventory at all, he didn;t even mention it too us when we moved in. He says he has the receipts to prove the floors / walls were new, but as he apparently owns a flooring company he could have forged these....

I just hope the judge sees the truth but the LL is such a good liar I do worry!

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Lia - without a check-in inventory he doesn't have a leg to stand on!

 

He has to PROVE that you have caused damage (NOT wear and tear) and he cannot do that because he has no proof of the condition of the property at the beginning of the tenancy - which condition you would have had to agree to.

 

And remember, judges are used to dealing with liars.

 

Make sure you have ALL paperwork relating to the case. I would even make a note of your conversations with him, with dates etc. if possible. This and what you tell the judge will be all that he has to work with so the more detailed and clear the information is the better.

 

No one can guarantee how things will work out but i think you should be ok.


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Tezcatlipoca you need to stop throwing the tenancy depsoit scheme around willy nilly, thats twice in as many posts you have incorrectly pointed it out!!

 

We may all have to reconsider encouraging tenants to go down this route. I found this on another forum:

 

Guidance has been published by HM Courts regarding the issue of claims under s.214 of the Housing Act 2004 for the 3x deposit 'penalty'. Apparently the civil procedure rules are soon to be amended to state that all claims must be started using Part 8 procedure.

 

this blog post explains a bit more.

 

Claims will be automatically allocated to multi track (not small claims) which means that legal costs are recoverable irrespective of the size of the claim. (Obviously, the court might then re-allocate if there were good reasons).

 

This means that tenants will have to be very sure of their case before claiming. This is probably to reduce the number of speculative claims relating to minor technical non-compliance (such as providing details a week late) as well as 'revenge' claims.

Edited by Kentish Lass

Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Thanks for all of your advice....we do feel we have strong case or there is no way we would be taking it to court - it's the last possible option. We've got all of the pictures, letters (ones he has written where he gets his lies mixed up) and even a conversation we taped on the sly where he is really threatening.

I'll be fine if it stays in small claims, it's just the thought of fast track that terrifies me!!

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Ok, a new update on this and the situation has got even worse!!!! After putting in our small claims, the landlord counterclaimed for nearly £11,000.

 

This means the case has now been allocated to fast track, which is the worst outcome for us as there is no way we can afford legal representation and we don't qualify for legal aid.

 

He's purposely inflated the claims with ridiculous lies i.e we were illegally subletting, there were 10 people living in the house, that we purposely evaded the inventory which apparently proves we planned to ruin the house, that we underpaid the rent etc. All made up stuff.

 

Does anyone have any advice on what to do next.Where can we get legal help from?? Any advice really appreciated...

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Lia - without a check-in inventory he doesn't have a leg to stand on!

 

He has to PROVE that you have caused damage (NOT wear and tear) and he cannot do that because he has no proof of the condition of the property at the beginning of the tenancy - which condition you would have had to agree to.

 

And remember, judges are used to dealing with liars.

 

Make sure you have ALL paperwork relating to the case. I would even make a note of your conversations with him, with dates etc. if possible. This and what you tell the judge will be all that he has to work with so the more detailed and clear the information is the better.

 

No one can guarantee how things will work out but i think you should be ok.

 

All the above still stands. He has gone down this route and is obviously hoping to frighten you - and it seems to have worked. Go and talk to someone at either CAB or Shelter. They will give you good advice.


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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As the above post says this is just a case of trying to intimidate you. Unless the LL has alot of evidence showing you sublet the property etc he's just aiming in the wind so to speak.

As for legal advice have a quick look through any insurance policys etc you have quite a few provide a legal advice line and its not always restricted to the item the policy covers

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He's purposely inflated the claims with ridiculous lies i.e we were illegally subletting, there were 10 people living in the house, that we purposely evaded the inventory which apparently proves we planned to ruin the house, that we underpaid the rent etc. All made up stuff.

 

 

Definatley talk to Shelter.

 

And so what if you did sublet... there was no financial loss to the Landlord....

 

Sounds like he's trying to frighten you off. And it has to be pretty hard to prove that you evaded the inventory. Likewise, its hard to prove that you underpaid rent, I presume you can prove via bank statements that you didnt?

 

An important point here is that as soon as just one of his claims is shown to be bollocks, it makes the rest of his case look extremely suspect. And the Judge will pick up on this.

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Ok thanks. Shelter have been really helpful before. We are going to start looking into free legal help as we will need representation as it's in fast track now.

He is so stupid, I don't think he has had any legal advice at all or he never would have inflated the costs. We definately weren't subletting as the tenants, which he was fully aware of, paid their rent directly to him.

There are LOADS of flaws in his supposed case i.e apparently he had a new floor re laid before having an expert report done on the floor, he accuses us of moving out without telling him even though he has signed and dated our notice. Lot's of stuff that hopefully will expose him as a liar!

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Your claim was always going to end up on the fast track. CPR26.6(1) says this (my emphasis)

The small claims track is the normal track for –

(b) any claim which includes a claim by a tenant of residential premises against a landlord where –

(i) the tenant is seeking an order requiring the landlord to carry out repairs or other work to the premises (whether or not the tenant is also seeking some other remedy);

(ii) the cost of the repairs or other work to the premises is estimated to be not more than £1,000; and

(iii) the financial value of any other claim for damages is not more than £1,000.

 

The good news is that you will be able to claim costs from the landlord when you win

He's purposely inflated the claims with ridiculous lies i.e we were illegally subletting, there were 10 people living in the house, that we purposely evaded the inventory which apparently proves we planned to ruin the house, that we underpaid the rent etc

All of these are either irrelevant or fairly easy to disprove.

Illegally subletting. Irrelevant and wrong anyway. It isn't illegal (or even unlawful) to sublet.

10 people living there. See above

Purposely evaded the inventory. Why then did he let you move in?

Underpaid rent. The rental amount will be in the tenancy agreement and no doubt you or one of your former house-mates has bank statements that show the rent being paid?

 

To be honest it sounds like the stream of conciousness rant that I got in response to my claim against a former land lady. Judges aren't stupid and, unless you are extremely unlucky, he will see it for what it is - an attempt to scare you off. Remember that the courts run on the principle of accuser proves, so it will be for your ex-ll to prove what he says, not for you to disprove it. (Likewise it is for you to prove any allegations that you make).

 

Given that he's made it all up, he's going to have a hard time proving it isn't he?

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