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Lodger vs Landlord - David vs Goliath


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Dear All,

 

Because this case has many elements and is possibly a quite extreme case, I'm going to lay out in boom-boom-boom fashion the threat I'm now facing.

 

I'm 27 and living in the London Borough of Camden privately renting as a lodger (I gather this is called "excluded tenant) within a large house currently occupied by 10 persons (including the landlord). I'm a full time social work student who also works about 20 hours a week.

 

I have been here 6 years now. Between Aug 2007 and November 2009 I lived with my boyfriend in a room with a total rent of £725 per month. My boyfriend left in November '09 and I took over the room at £600 pm. This was raised to £630 in February and to £640 in May.

 

On 25th October (though the letter was incorrectly dated 25th November) I received a letter from the landlord asking for an increase to £750 beginning 5th November (10 days from receipt of the letter). The 5th day of the month is my rent due date.

 

I can't afford this and because the landlord is a quite loathsome schemer sort of person I want to retaliate in some way. 2 days later (evening of 27th October) I got a knock on the door. It was the landlord and he wanted to show my room by someone who had seen an advert for it! The visitor liked it, and the landlord invited him back the next day with bank statements & other paperwork to proceed. I could hardly believe that was happening, since there had been no discussion of my intentions in the 48 hours after my receipt of the letter.

 

About the landlord:

  • He has often referred to tenants as "cash cows" in my presence.
  • He once returned the deposit to an American tenant who was going back to America the next day in cheque form, and then subsequently cancelled the cheque, all because the tenant once irritated him by ringing the bell in the early morning!!

This house is very definitely an HMO, BUT the landlord has resisted all efforts for it to be classified as such. In about 2007 the council were pushing for a home visit to assess its status. He fought them off, and then went to our MP and claimed that this was an unjust imposition upon him, etc. The MP wrote a letter to the Council and they backed off. He attempted this later with another of his properties where the Council were similarly pushy, and this time the MP told him where to go! Even so, this house has no license and the Council seem to be ignoring the issue.

 

There have been about 5 tenants over the 6 years I've been here who have placed themselves on the electoral register. I have overheard the landlord dismiss these to authorities as "friends staying with him" when I can assure you that they were not.

 

Bearing upon this very issue, the landlord is claiming the 25% Council Tax single person reduction, and has done so for at least the 6 years I've been here! I know, I've seen the bill.

 

I have never seen a gas safety certificate and don't believe that they are done annually as they ought to be, but I can't be certain of this. Certainly they've never been distributed to us.

 

What I want to do is this, but please knowledgeable commentators, offer your opinions, tell me if it's absurd or not. I want to ask for a rent REDUCTION to about...£450. I intend to write a letter to him in the coming days pointing out the above, but perhaps phrasing it like "in the circumstances until evidence is offered of Mr X's compliance with the law I am unwilling to pay more than £450 per calendar month". How do I get this point across without a whiff of deleterious legal consequence for me? I.e. I want to stay well clear of anything resembling a "blackmail" law.

 

I can't see a good way out for him but to swallow the loss here and keep me on at a reduced rate. He could of course insist I **** off, but then I'm taking my substantial grievances with me. I understand that there have been cases where at tribunal tenants living in unlicensed HMOs have been able to claim back 80% of their rent for the year. Another thing: he owns 5 houses in London each paying around £2.5k per month and none of the deposits at these properties have been lodged with the deposit protection service!! He resents the scheme and won't have anything to do with it!

 

So if he keeps me under the terms of the proposal, he "loses" abt. £2280 a year (hmm, I should go lower than £450 shouldn't I?). If I'm booted out and can reclaim even 50% of what I paid over the year, he loses abt. £3600. If I have no case and the tribunal doesn't accept it, he doesn't lose in that area...but will lose how much in HMO-demanded modifications and licensing? A lot. If he boots all but 2 tenants out (I think that's right) he's going to be losing about £45k a year. If I am booted and in my fury write to all houses (I know the addresses) where he is not lodging the deposit and urge them to attempt a 3x reclamation, he's going to lose about £37k if they all do it and are all successful.

 

Is there anything else I can get him on that I've missed? How best to proceed? Strategies please. Questions too if anything is unclear or you want more info.

 

Best regards,

Ann D.

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I dont think anyone here can condone what you are suggesting.

 

My advice is to leave and find alternative safe accomodation with a gas saftey certificate. Personally I value my life at considerably more than a £2280 pa rent saving.

 

As far as 'loathsome schemers' go, I think your landlord has more than met his match.

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So if he keeps me under the terms of the proposal, he "loses" abt. £2280 a year (hmm, I should go lower than £450 shouldn't I?). If I'm booted out and can reclaim even 50% of what I paid over the year, he loses abt. £3600.

 

You arent a tenant, you cant reclaim anything.

 

If I have no case and the tribunal doesn't accept it, he doesn't lose in that area...but will lose how much in HMO-demanded modifications and licensing? A lot. If he boots all but 2 tenants out (I think that's right) he's going to be losing about £45k a year. If I am booted and in my fury write to all houses (I know the addresses) where he is not lodging the deposit and urge them to attempt a 3x reclamation, he's going to lose about £37k if they all do it and are all successful.

 

You arent a tenant, you cant reclaim anything.

 

You are a lodger.

 

What you are suggesting is perilously close to blackmail. Also, you WAY overestimate your "hand", as you are comparing yourself (a lodger i.e. licencee) to a tenant. There is a huge gulf between the two.

 

If you dont like the rent, dont pay it and simply leave.

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.

 

Please click the star if I have helped!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

you have admitted that you believe there is a health and safety issue due to no gas certificate

 

therefore the property is just as unsafe at £750 per month as it is at £450 per month therefore your offer would- i suspect be viewed as a patent attempt to blackmail the landlord since if you genuinely had a concern about the health and safety issue- you would be more concerned to get that rectified that negotiate prices!

 

you suggest that some of your documents have "gone missing"

 

i presume that the landlord did not voluntarily give you the details of his other properties so it would be interesting to know how you came by this information

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