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Lowells plus Rogue Landlord - help please!

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Hello, I have a *slightly* complicated situation which I would appreciate help in unpicking. 

 

I moved out of a rental property last month.

My lease expired at the end of March, and due to the COVID restrictions I could not move until May.

I also had next to no income for March, April or May, again due to COVID.

 

I did tell the landlords and they harassed me with constant emails until I told them firmly to stop, as it was making me ill (verified) which held up the moving process.

I am now on Universal Credit, which pays a very small amount, plus a small pension (which UC deducted from what they assess I need to live on, so let's say £350 a month. That's my income.)

 

I am awaiting my deposit return from the landlord, they owe me £3,500, and according to Lowell's I owe around £6k for March-May (which includes about £400 of charges). 

 

I am waiting for the return of my deposit, but have been warned by previous tenants that I am unlikely to get it all back, the landlords have tried to charge them for various items. (I'm prepared to have to pay a small amount, but I had it cleaned when I moved out and video'ed my walk-round in the presence of a friend, who is a retired lecturer. Not in Law, sadly.)

 

(Having harassed me to move or pay up, they are now saying they haven't been able to perform the check out because of the lockdown.)

I have told both the landlords and Lowells that when I receive my deposit back, I will immediately pay that on the rent account, and I intend to do that. 

Meantime, I am getting letters from Lowell, demands that I fill in their income and expenditure form etc. which I don't think they have the authority to do. 

 

My thoughts are: if I let them take me to court, worst case scenario is that I will be judged to owe them the £6K, but I can ask the court to let me pay this in small instalments and Lowells won't be allowed to bother me. 

 

My credit rating is of no interest to me.

 

My hopes are that if they pay me the deposit, I will only owe around £2.5k.  I'm assuming from reading about Lowell's that they aren't going to be reasonable and accept £1250, in view of the fact that the landlords harassed me and held up my moving, and that my situation was bad due to COVID. (They couldn't have shown or let the house in May anyway.)

 

My further hopes are that I would be able to ask the court to set some of that 2.5k aside, due to my circumstances, but I don't think County Court hearings are set up to do this.

Should I get legal help?

 

A lot depends on the outcome of the deposit situation, if they try to stiff me on that I will dispute it, I have photographic evidence plus a witness that the flat was left fairly pristine (there's some minor marking which is well within "fair wear and tear"). 

Should I write back to Lowell's and just acknowledge receipt of their letter? I have given them a "c/o" forwarding address as I am living with family for the time being. 

 

I would add (before anyone trolls me!) that I am actively seeking work, I had some savings which have now gone, and if I get a well-paid job, I can pay the debt in full, although I still would not be willing to write off a deposit that is owed to me - I'd pay the 2.5k. However, given the current climate, which is affecting every business I'm able to work in, I'm not holding out too much hope of getting work before Lowell's take me to court.

 

Thanks

PG

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Hi and welcome to the forum.

 

I have moved your topic to the  Residential and Commercial lettings/Freehold issues forum ...please continue to post here.

 

Andy

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No judgement about seeking work here, the job market is a disaster!. You owe £6k for 3 months rent? Where was the property ?

 

Lowell's are of no consequence, they have no right to ask for an i&e sheet. Safe to ignore them unless they send a letter before action. Is the property rented through an agency? Have they given you a date when you will be paid the deposit back?

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We could do with some help from you.

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 Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

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lowells chasing rent arrears

that's a new one on me...

 

lowells can't do court as they don't own the debt.

and even then a DCA is NOT A BAILIFF

and have 

ZERO legal powers on ANY DEBT..no matter what it's type.

 

dx

 

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please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

if everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's tomorrow

the biggest financial industry in the UK, DCA;s would collapse overnight.

 

 

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Yup I wondered about that!

 

 

 

 

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We could do with some help from you.

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 Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

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Hi

 

When you say lease is this a Private Rented Property? (is it a lease or an AST)

 

Exactly what type of Agreement did you have and start date and end date?

 

Was your Deposit protected in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme and your were given a copy of the Prescribed Terms of that Scheme?

 

When you moved out of the property was this agreed with the Landlord and a check out inspection agreed? (i note you mentioned they couldn't carry out the inspection due to covid-19)

 

Does your lease agreement have any clauses in it for 'Late Payment of Rent or Rent Arrears'? (if so what does it state)

 

Is there anything in the documentation from Lowell's giving a breakdown of this money owed? (does it have anything mentioning damage  or it is just rent arrears/charges)

 

 

 

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Dear All,

thanks so much for taking time to answer me, I will read through these replies properly after breakfast.

Really appreciate your time and wanting to help.
 

In answer to a couple of questions: 

 

1. it was an expensive flat. I could afford it when I took it on, started to struggle with rent late last year, couldn’t get anyone to share (second bedroom I used as office is tiny). 

 

I knew the landlords wouldn’t let me out of the lease early, so I planned to stay till end of March, find somewhere cheaper.

Lockdown messed up plans. Lowell’s mention my “staying months after I gave notice” -

I gave notice in January that I would leaving before the lease was up.

Couldn’t do that, Govt told us all to stay put. 


2. The checkout will be completed this coming week.

 

A worry for me is that there may be rain damage that they will try to charge me for, but the video should cover me there.

 

There was a spot on balcony where rain came into flat during heavy downpours - I put a plant in a pot there which blocked it, and it dried out.

Some peeling to paintwork which would need touching up. 

 

Pointed this out to landlord during inspection last year.

They said to keep eye and report if it got worse. 

 

Other than that, fair wear and tear and not much of that, I never wore shoes indoors, don’t smoke.

My cleaner cleaned inside cupboards, doors, skirting boards so it looks pretty immaculate. 

 

3. I spoke to two former tenants who had trouble getting their deposits back, landlords tried to charge them hundreds for deep cleaning and spurious damage accusations. One still in dispute with them. 
 

Will continue in a bit and try not to ramble. 
Thanks

 

Deposits supposedly protected under “my deposits”.

I have documentation.

Landlords’ agents tell me they will “inform” me of deductions, so they obviously think it’s up to them to decide what to withhold. 
 

Landlords’ agents have flouted law several times - e.g sending workmen into property when I wasn’t there, once, and trying to do it again (to inspect) even though I’d told them the law on this.

Other small things.

Moving is hell, otherwise I’d have left at end of first year.  

 

I think the lease was an AST, but on a year long contract that said if I left early they could charge me the full term.

When it ran out they sent me new agreement that would roll on month to month at same rate of rent. 
 

I understand from your replies that Lowell’s have no power and are just DCA?

So should I ignore them?

They didn’t give breakdown of charges, but their figure is at least £500 more than rent owed. 
 

Let’s wait to see what how the checkout /deposit thing plays out this week. 


It’s a bit worrying and confusing feeling that I am fighting on two fronts; Lowell’s and the landlords.

Which is no doubt the intention. 
 

Thanks again. 

 

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Good Programme on Sky about rogue landlords and tenants. It illustrates the absolute futility of them actually getting any money back for unpaid rent. Of course they will probably Take all of your security deposit but probably will have to sing for the rest from you.

 

Ignore Lowell, they are powerless. So it is a letting agent is it? I’d send them (The agency)an SAR request under GDPR. This will entitle you to see all emails , screen shots and information that they have on you.

 

i used it as a big stick to beat my letting agent with , when I left my rental property early.

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We could do with some help from you.

PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP THIS SITE RUNNING EVERY POUND DONATED WILL HELP US TO KEEP HELPING OTHERS

 

 Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

If you want advice on your thread please PM me a link to your thread

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Thank you.

 

I'm prepared for them to keep all my security deposit, but it needs to be set against the rent I owe, they can't possibly claim I've caused hundreds or thousands of pounds in damage. 

The mydeposits scheme is supposed to mean that my deposit is safeguarded/ringfenced, but from speaking to other former tenants, they just made up things to charge them for, like 300 quid for cleaning. 

 

So if there's a balance owing to the agents, I should just wait to see if they bother taking me to court?

They know I have no money and I've told them I'm not scared of a CCJ affecting my credit. 

 

I will ignore Lowells, who are signing their emails "Lowell Solicitors"; should I write one email saying that the amount is in dispute and I will only deal directly with the agents? Or just blank them? 

Thanks

 

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who are lowells sols stated clients?

 

dx

 

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please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

if everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's tomorrow

the biggest financial industry in the UK, DCA;s would collapse overnight.

 

 

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The clients stated are the managing agents.

 

I wonder if I should now change the title of the thread as I'm going to ignore Lowells (for now), or see how the deposit dispute turns out. 

 

Have finally heard from the managing agents re. checking out the property. They are trying to charge 720.00 for cleaning and damages, which I will have to dispute via mydeposits. The only legit things they could charge me for are a) cleaning the oven. My cleaner did a brilliant job overall but ovens are not her forte. b) a mark on the carpet where some candle wax dripped. c) a plastic curtain bracket, where I hung curtains up and couldn't get the middle bracket back up - I suspect these are cheap by the dozen somewhere like Homebase. 

I'm suspicious that none of these were mentioned but they want 50 quid to deep clean the dishwasher. (Uh?). 

 

So the summary of their letter today is "you are owed about 2.5k deposit return, you still owe us 6k in arrears, please can we have the 3.5k by return".

 

My question to the forum is now, if they take me to County Court, would the hearing be the appropriate place to:

a) counter the claim with their harassment (and would mentioning their sharp practice re deposits confuse matters there) and how that actually held up my ability to move out (I had to rest due to high blood pressure)

b) plead my financial circumstances - no work due to virus, so stuck in this property I could no longer afford but moved as soon as I could

c) point out that they couldn't have rented it to someone else during that time anyway

 

Or are the CC just going to say "the point is whether you legally owe the money"?


Would I be able to argue these points myself, if relevant, or do I need legal representation? 

 

As I said at the outset, worst case scenario is that CC finds me liable, I get a CCJ against my name, but I can ask to pay in very small instalments. 

 

 

 

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Of course you are entitled to raise a counter claim providing it has merit and you can easily represent yourself in small claims court...assuming they wish to go near a court with all this nonsense,

 

what is the name of the letting agents and I will update your thread and put their name in lights:wink:

 

Andy


We could do with some help from you.

PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP THIS SITE RUNNING EVERY POUND DONATED WILL HELP US TO KEEP HELPING OTHERS

 

 Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group The National Consumer Service

 

If you want advice on your thread please PM me a link to your thread

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