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Old Tenant is suing me


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Got a letter from the Lawyers to say that an ex tenant of mine is suing me for a unmentioned amount as he fell down some stairs which he claims were broken.

 

He says that he had informed me that they were broken when he never had. It was wear and tear that caused a piece of wood in it to break and he fell down and fractured his hand.

 

It was wear and tear and no fault of mine. He never informed me that they were about to break as he is claiming.

 

What should I do in this? the letter from the Lawyer says that I need to acknowledge this within 21 days and reply with numerous documents which include my maintainance logs and insurance details.

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wear and tear would not be a defence- you would still be responsible for their maintenance

 

did the claimant inform you at the time/how long after the event were you informed of the alleged accident

 

did he seek medical attention at the time

 

did he go to hospitial

 

what time of day/night was it (perhaps he was drunk)

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I have no idea what time of day it was as he didn't inform me till a couple of days later about what happened. So I don't even know if it in fact happened at the house only.

 

Doesn't he need to inform me if he sees that something is wrong? How can I repair something without being informed?

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I am guessing that he must have gone to the hospital pretty much straight after it happened so yeah he must have them records. He is also claiming physio therapy and also it says that till now (i year along) he is still not perfect.

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you really need some legal advice as you could be looking at a very substantial claim here

 

of course if you don't have any assets and not much income then you may be in a stronger position

 

not having third party liability cover as a landlord is total madness (sorry if that sounds smug -)

 

do i suspect that you dont have any maintenance logs either?

 

have you already used the arguments in your post to the other side?

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you really need some legal advice as you could be looking at a very substantial claim here

 

of course if you don't have any assets and not much income then you may be in a stronger position

 

not having third party liability cover as a landlord is total madness (sorry if that sounds smug -)

 

do i suspect that you dont have any maintenance logs either?

 

have you already used the arguments in your post to the other side?

 

I haven't replied to them yet. I am on tax credit so not exactly in a well off position. Can I get legal help for free?

 

Also I was reading the above links and it says that they have to let me know in writing if they know of any faults. The letter from the lawyer says they informed me but they never did. Certainly never in writing.

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To be honest the Claimant sounds like he has a decent claim against you.

 

Once the Claimant has made a claim it is up to him to prove he sustained the injuries as a result of your negligence. If he can prove that he went to hospital as a result of the accident and/or can also prove that the stairs were broken then it falls on you as the Defendant to defend the claim and prove you were not at fault.

 

In order to succesfully defend the claim you must be able to show that you have acted as per your duties as a Landlord.

 

In order to repudiate his claims that he reported the dangerous stairs to you, you will need to show that you have a complaint log book or someother way of logging and dealing with complaints made by tenants. If you don't have such a thing then it's just your words against his and he has (probably med records) the docs to show that he did suffer injuries when he fell, which leaves you in a very poor state to defend such accusations.

 

Secondly, in order to show that you had adequately maintained the property you will need to have maintenance logs of all work done on this property. If you don't then you will struggle to defend any allegations made against you in respect of not repairing the stairs i.e. the Claimant argues you should have repaired or known about the state of the stairs which leaves you with really only one defence of you suggesting you did not know the stairs where defective, however, without maintenance logs he can quite easily win the Court over by just saying - had you maintained the property to a reasonable standard you would have known about the damage/wear and tear and done something about it (plus the Claimant will also again raise the fact that they told you it was defective). You cannot really defend against this if you don't have the logs etc as you can't prove the work was done unless you provide independent witness evidence (builders etc) to confirm the same.

 

Do you have any such documents or witness evdience?

 

Regarding legal aid etc, if you have a property that you rent out then you will not be able to get legal aid for it. CAB may be able to help, plus also give your local law society a ring as they may be able to put you in touch with pro bono lawyers who might help

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you say you have little income- thats a good start- but the killer question is what property do you own?

 

the problem you will have if this guy wins- unlike a major creditor- is that he will want to take as much as he can from you as quickly as he can and will no doubt use every means possible to obtain satisfaction of any judgement- so if you do have interest in any property you may be in a difficult position

 

as i said before- (and i dont usually) this is a case where you N E E D legal advice and PDQ

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Yes I have always kept maintance logs. Its just that I don't have a book that specifically says its is so but I do make a note of all repairs and complaints on this property for Tax purposes. So I know for say 2010 what problems have been notified to me and what I have done about them. If say a tenant moved out I know what I have done to bring the property up to date and make sure that its of a good standard to let again. I am a good landlord so make sure all my tenants are kept happy and never have to go wmore then a few hours after they report something.

 

I have all the receipts of work done in this property by tradesmen.

 

The problem is that all my data is in a rough format which was good enough for me but will this be ok for the court?

 

Out of interest what type of claim am I looking at here? I do have interest in another property but that is heavily mortgaged and again I wouldn't have money to pay him without selling it but then the bank would take all the money.

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PDQ - Pretty Damn Quick

 

Your logs/receipts etc will have to do, but like diddydicky states you need legal representation to put them forward to the Court in a way that will present a solid defence, but most of all you need something to try and cover your losses if you lose.

 

The claim you are looking at will be for personal injury. Such a claim will involve a claim for injuries and associated losses such as wage loss etc.

 

Depending on how severe the injury was depends on the amount of money he gets. If severe, then it may well have a knock on affect with his employment i.e. skilled builder can't use his dominant hand as well, can't work as quickly, can't find work etc. So worse case scenario he may be looking for £100,000's. As his problems are still ongoing after a year it is likely that he will either need surgery or have indefinite problems, albeit minor so you are probably looking at a minimum of about £7,000 for just his damages for pain suffering and a loss of amenity and then any care and misc expenses of between £1,000 upwards. in respect of his loss of earnings, he may have losses now every year until he is 65 if he can't work or has a disadvantage on the open labour market e.g. £5,000 x 10 years (although it's a bit more complicated than that as you have to use something called an Ogden table to calculate the damages)

 

On top of that will be his solicitors, barristers and disbursement costs. If you take it all the way to Court then they will be likely in the region of £20,000 (possibly a lot more if he has a severe injury and a lot of expert evidence is needed) if he wins. Settle out of court and probably about £7,500.

 

So any which way you look at it, if you lose you will be paying thousands.

 

What you will also have to remember is that if you do go it alone, the Court will give you some help, but you will still be up against lawyers and barristers who will run rings around you in Court unless you have done this before or do a lot of reading up.

 

As such, I would go through every single insurance policy you have i.e. car, buildings, contents, credit cards etc and see if you have legal expenses insurance. If so, they may cover you for such a claim. If not, go and see a good solicitor or insurance broker and see if they can get you an 'After the Event' policy of insurance that would cover you for any losses (unlikely, but worth a try).

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If he is going it alone... might it be worth his(or her) while to send a CPR 31.16 letter and ask for the medical report?

 

This is asking for disclosure before proceedings commence and might help out costs wise.

 

http://www.justice.gov.uk/civil/procrules_fin/contents/parts/part31.htm

 

I think you seriously need proper legal advice though! Check your insurance policies for legal cover pronto as per the

previous post and don't admit anything before getting proper advice.

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if he is going it alone-i for one don't want to get involved in advising him - I am unsubsribing to this one

 

No need to worry I am not going it alone. There is no chance of that happening. Even if I find out all the in's and outs of this case and am confident I won't try it. To much too loose. Just wanted your advice before I go to a Lawyer so I know where I am standing.

 

BTW I spoke with a lawyer on this earlier today and he says that I have a very good case and thy are probably just looking to scare me into settling out of court.

 

He went through the entire case and mentioned that they did not inform you, especially after it happened for a few days is a plus point for us.

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If he is going it alone... might it be worth his(or her) while to send a CPR 31.16 letter and ask for the medical report?

 

This is asking for disclosure before proceedings commence and might help out costs wise.

 

http://www.justice.gov.uk/civil/procrules_fin/contents/parts/part31.htm

 

 

Medical evidence is priviledged and so any request for disclosure can be ignored.

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  • 3 months later...

3 months behind with rent is a very different matter. I was under the impression you were evicting because of the door.

 

OK, legally it is your resposibility even if it gets vandalised every day - as wrong as that may seem. I do sympathise, but the law is what you asked about. However, if you live so nearby, perhaps you could put up a hidden camera to catch the real culprit and have them brought to justice. It could even be the tenant themselevs!

 

As far as the law stands, you are the victim of a crime as the damage is to your property. You have to report it, get a crime number and then claim from your insurance. If we are talking about a Yale type lock, I would buy a couple of the cheap and nasty ones you can get in DIY chains for about a tenner each until the tenant has moved.

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