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Kathryn77

Guarantor help and end of tenancy damages

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Hi

 

I really need your help/advice. My FIL (74 years old) somewhat stupidly put himself down as a guarantor for his granddaughter's boyfriend in February 2012. The first my husband and I heard of it was yesterday when he came round with a folder of correspondence between him and the landlord of the property, seeking our help. From what I can gather the landlord is threatening with county court action unless he pays nearly £1000 for damages at the end of tenancy. There is nothing about rent arrears. Looking around forums and the internet in general, there appears to be two separate areas of concern.

 

Firstly, the form my FIL signed (he is sending me a copy via email) states his name and address, blank space for landlord name and address and blank space for tenant name and address. In the paragraph about rent amount due “N/A” has been written and on the next page a space for him to sign and date and then space below for the witness details. At no point was my FIL sent a tenancy agreement or any other correspondence from the landlord until a reminder letter for outstanding amounts to be paid with 10 days or we will start charging interest and start legal proceedings in the county court. My MIL picked up the pages from their granddaughter, my FIl signed and dated and my MIL signed and dated as a witness and they gave them back to their granddaughter, after taking a copy.

 

My FIL sent a letter disputing the costs on the invoice and the fact the LL is chasing him and to provide proof of the costs and his liability as guarantor as the form has been amended in the proofs she has provided. The LL has come back with an “altered” guarantor form. The form she has stated is the original but now has the landlord’s name and address and the tenant’s name and address filled in. Also the “N/A” has been scratched out and written over with two hundred and ninety pounds – you can clearly see this on the document and they have also scratched out another couple of words and inserted something different.

 

From a point of law as my FIL never knew what he was signing for and never received any documentation from the LL to state this, is the guarantor valid?

 

Secondly, the outstanding costs for damages. The tenant had an assured short hold in an HMO and they are saying all the damage was committed after the other tenant had moved out *(2 month period). The LL has provided an invoice for nearly £1000 for work done to the property, they have stated they can use the tenant’s deposit to reduce the costs – can they do this without written consent from the tenant (it was in a deposit scheme)? They state an amount for losing keys (which we accept), amount for replacing both bedroom and lounge carpets due to cigarette burns, painting the walls, cutting hedges, replacement of gas certificate. In the inventory that the LL sent through with the invoice there were already stains on all the carpets.

 

My FIL has asked to see proof of the costs ie receipts, invoices etc but the LL states that they have done everything themselves so don’t have any. Surely if you were trying to chase for damage you would have these and photographic evidence. My FIL reduced the amount by 50% and sent a cheque of over £300 for final settlement; the LL refused the offer and sent the cheque back, threatening legal action. Also with the gas safety certificate, it is my understanding that each tenant should have a copy but the original should be kept by the landlord, is this correct?

 

If we get the tenant to sign a letter stating he accepts the liability and (amended) costs and an instalment plan to pay this back, will then LL then chase him instead?

 

Thanking you in advance for your help in this matter.

 

Kat

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My understanding is:

 

First, guarantor has to be signed by deed (or by being included in tenancy contract).

 

A deed must state that it is a "Deed". The signature must be witnessed (ie. a third, independent person must view the signature and sign the Deed themselves).

 

The precise wording of what your FiL signed would be relevant to see whether the rent and damages were covered.

 

Second, LL would still require evidence of damage and costs. ie. inventory for evidence of damage and receipts/list of work for costs.

 

Third, if the guarantee form is valid, then it is entirely up to LL whether he chase tenant or guarantor for the money. Normally it is easier to get the money out of the guarantor as the tenant may be hard to track down and may not have any money or property.

 

Fourth, if you think that the guarantee is invalid and the costs are fake/unprovable, then you might wish to suggest your FiL writes back and states that on reflection he doesn't believe any money is owned by him and therefore that for avoidance of doubt he withdraws any offer to settle. LL should have a) cashed the cheque and b) written back to say the cheque has been cashed in part-settlement - you cannot make a payment and *insist* that the payment is made in full settlement.

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