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Would really appreciate some sound advice.



I have my landlord's permission to sub-let a room in my home. This income covers the shortfall between my HB and my monthly rent.



On Saturday, my new lodger paid a holding deposit and two weeks' rent in advance after we had verbally agreed to an initial three month tenancy. (He originally viewed the room three weeks ago.) The guy was desperate to move in and it was all very last minute. (He and his girlfriend had been having significant relationship problems.) We agreed terms and I promised to provide him with a Licence to Lodge the next day as I would be out til late and he started work at 10.00 pm that night. He agreed to this.



Later that afternoon, he collected some of his belongings from his previous address and put them in his room (about 4.45 pm). I had to leave him to move in as I had family commitments. At 6.35 pm I received a text from him saying he had changed his mind as his girlfriend didn't want him to leave their home. He demanded his money back in full.



Despite subsequent threatening texts from him, I advised him to seek advice from CAB and told him that if he had a legal claim, I would happily reconsider my decision. (He is Polish and although his English is reasonable, he does not understand English Law.)



He was advised by CAB to request a refund for the holding deposit and one week's rent - a total of £180.00. He would allow me to retain one week's rent as compensation for changing his mind.



I was under the impression that a contract, albeit verbal, still had legal standing and that if he failed to move in, it was not necessary to refund the holding deposit/rent already paid. It was his loss. If I had changed my mind about him moving in, I would have instantly given him a full refund. I feel as if he is effectively depriving me of three month's income and I have still to find another lodger which may take months (if past history is anything to go by).



When I was told of his relationship difficulties, I suggested that a month's trial period might be appropriate and to "keep the door open" and not to commit himself to a long rental period. I put this to him three times but he insisted he needed to move in immediately. He refused the trial period and we agreed on an initial tenancy of three months.



I would usually take a deposit and a month's rent in advance. I waived this in favour of just two weeks' rent to assist him in managing his budgeting/finances.



As far as I am concerned, I have gone out of my way to accommodate him and feel aggrieved that he should now be sending threatening texts to come "with a friend" to collect his money and do everything he can to involve the police (even though it is obviously a civil matter).



He texted this morning to say that, unless I refund him, he will make a claim against me and that I could be fined £810 plus costs if the case went in his favour. As an aside, good luck on that one -- I'm impecunious (as the name suggests), so it's doubtful he would ever receive a penny.



The income I receive from letting the spare room keeps a roof above my head and prevents me from being evicted.



As I said at the top of my post, I would really appreciate some sound advice on this matter. If I am at fault, I will happily make a refund but feel strongly that I shouldn't give in to threatening behaviour and intimidation without being clear on where I stand legally.



Thanks guys!








PS I have advised him I will respond to his request within seven days and I have advised that I will keep the room open for him for the next fortnight in case he feels the need to leave his home again.

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I think the key thing is that it is all verbal so besides a payment to you there's no evidence of the terms of the agreement. I'm happy to be proven wrong but I'd strongly consider his offer of a split with money for the inconvenience and avoid the time, potential expense and stress of a drawn out battle with someone.


Sorry, quick edit. Have you spoken with CAB also? Could they perhaps facilitate a mutually acceptable resolution?

My views are my own and are not representative of any organisation. if you've found my post helpful please click on the star below.

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How much was 'holding deposit'?

Personally I would suggest you retain holding deposit and refund advance rent, but the devil is in the detail of verbal agreement.


The "holding deposit" was £100.00.


The guy visited the property last night several times, banging loudly on front door and window. After his threatening texts, I decided it was unwise to talk to him directly after advising him by text earlier in the day that I would seek advice before making a decision about whether to refund/how much etc.



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(He is Polish and although his English is reasonable, he does not understand English Law.)



Don't be fooled by that, he knows alright.


I would do what has been said above, give him back the advanced rent but retain the holding deposit.

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The guy visited the property last night several times, banging loudly on front door and window.


Sounds like this guy would have been a troublesome lodger.... If the visits and/or text messages are causing concern, it might be worth having a chat with the local community police officer.





No... you can't eat my brain just yet. I need it a little while longer.

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Thanks everyone. The Government website on letting rooms was also really useful.



The verbal agreement was for a fixed term of three months - this means that the contract cannot be broken before the end of that fixed term unless both parties agree. He effectively surrendered his tenancy by returning the keys.



My ex-lodger has just accepted a FULL and FINAL OFFER. I will refund 50% of his total payment.



Lesson learnt! Thanks for your contributions.






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Glad it's sorted.




Me too ... letting rooms to lodgers is a minefield. I'd researched as much as I could but had never come across this problem before.



I just wanted to do what was right.



Thanks again!






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Your lodger never had a tenancy and you are not in a position to offer him one, even if your landlord says you may have lodgers as it is not the same. He had a contract for use and occupation and that limits what each party can claim in the event of a breach of that contract.

When you get a new lodger be very careful how you describe your relationship with your lodger and I would advise against having a fixed period for letting your room. Simplest thing is to take a deposit against possible damage and future non-payment, a week or two's rent in advance and go from there - easy in and easy out. Why create problems for yourself?

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