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Absolutely URGENT advice needed!!!!


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Hi all,

 

I'll really try to make a long story short here so have bullet pointed issues leading up to date and what i need advice on.

 

1. I took on an assured shorthold tenancy via a private landlord on May 19th 2006 (please note, I never deal with him only his 2 female representatives) on a 6 month renewable tenancy.

 

2. On November 12th 2006 they extended tenancy for a further 6 months which I agreed.

 

3. I had since outset had issues due to previous tenants (i.e. debt collectors, court officers, police, private investigators, 'heavies' etc..) as the previous tenants had done fraud under the address as well as other activities.

 

4. Initially at start, landlords representatives where helpful in dealing with these matters however, this helpfulness phased out.

 

5. On 20th November 2006, I approached them asking for help in the amount of visits etc.. that were continuing to happen and explained that is was becoming very stressful and I had just found out I was pregnant also (as well as have a 11 yr old daughter) and was concerned. Their response, not to renew tenancy and issued me with a section 21 to vacate property on may 18th 2007 (end of tenancy).

 

6. Without going into to much, from november 20th 06 to date, I have had an absolute nightmare with them, re meddling in my private life to repairs issues (eg. just one example - 62 days to repair a blown down fence with the dog next door relliveing himself in the garden of the property, etc..) to other personal vendettas they pursued to make my life hell.

 

Current Issues & advice needed based on these please!!!!:

 

7. Anyway, I was rehoused via council / housing association and my tenancy started on 23rd April 2007. As I had a section 21 for the 18th May 2007 served on me by landlord which was deemed lawfully served (as i was rehoused due to this section 21), I did not believe I had to give my landlord written notice to leave the property?

 

8. As my new tenancy started on 23rd april and my current tenancy was ending on 18th may I understood myself as still liable for the property so used this time to start moving belongings out of property into new home and to give me time to clean up landlords property (as being 33 weeks pregnant, i takes me 100 times as long to do things!).

 

9. I advised landlord that I was using my deposit to act as my final months rent and that if on final inspection they felt any dilapidations were necessary and I was in agreement, then I would of course pay for these in a timely manner. I gave my reasons for this as the lack of good faith which has been shown to me since november 2006 and set out in concrete examples and to prevent my being taken advantage of in way of lengthy court processes to obtain my deposit back.

 

10. I advised that although the property was empty and vacant, I understood that I was still responsible for property up until 18th May (this friday) and that I was taking this time to clean property thoroughly prior to last inspection and handing keys back and that I had advised all utilities regarding this situation also and that I would still be responsible for usage up until 18th May.

 

11. In the last week, both representatives of the landlord have been to my current residence asking questions to other tenants in my block about me as this has been highlighted to me by these residents. Surely this is not ethically right and is borderline harrassment? (I have logged with police however, police being as helpful as they are say theres nothing I can do and it is a civil matter).

 

12. Last Friday, I went to the property address so I could collect rest of my belongings and start the clean up of the property and could not get in. I texted them to find out what the situation is and all I got back was a text saying 'you've breached your contract, locks changed, landlord will be writing to you'. They'd changed the locks earlier that same day as I had been going to the property every day to check on it. I requested numerous times via text over the weekend for a date to go and collect the rest of my possessions with a police officer and they are not responding to me.

 

I was under the impression that even if I had breached my contract (which I personally do not feel I have), even if I owed months of rent (which I don't), the landlord still has to go through the court process of eviction and cannot just go and change the locks as this is an illegal eviction?

 

However, I am unsure of my rights as although I still have a few belongings in the property, I did vacate the property and perhaps lost my rights, in doing so.

 

Please could someone knowledgeable in this advise me. All I want is to obtain my possessions (as one of these is a teacrate in the shed with enormous amount of personal documentation giving bank details, national insurance numbers, personal information relating to my daughter, etc...) so I can close this chapter and move on with my life, which they obviously intend to still make extremely difficult for me.

 

Thanks, Eva

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If you had paid your final month's rent, you should simply have contacted a locksmith.

 

But as I understand, unless your landlord agreed to you using the deposit as the final month's rent, your tenancy ended a month ago when you failed to pay the rent and your landlord has simply re-taken possession of his property.

 

However he still holds your deposit and if the contract states the deposit is held against condition of the property and rental arrears, not breach of contract, and you can prove you didn't harm the property you may get it back.

 

As for your belongings still in the flat. The Landlord may consider them abandoned. You should send him a recorded delivery letter, and keep a copy for yourself, clearly stating they aren't and you require them back.

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Was the entirety of the rent up until 18th of May paid? Either way, they are guilty of unlawful eviction, a serious criminal offence. I would suggest you consult with a solicitor, Shelter, and the police. I will give a fully detailed answer after work.

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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As a side note, with all due respect to jaocheu, his advice is very seriously wrong and I would strongly advise ignoring his post. The tenancy ends ONLY when a court says so, or when mutually agreed. Under NO OTHER circumstances, not breach of contract or lack of rent payment or otherwise, does a tenancy end.

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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Thank you for your response.

 

I had already sent a recorded delivery letter stating everything in it regarding my leaving but still responsible for property till end date may 18th and my deposit acting as final months rent.

 

This is a letter I have just received this moment from landlord;

 

Termination - Rental Agreement, property address....

As a consequence of you having breached the terms of our rental agreement in that you failed to pay the monthly rental fee due on 19th April 2007 and you have vacated the property early without notifying us beforehand or providing us with a forwarding address and are living elsewhere which we have been informed is the address to which this letter has been sent, the Trust has taken possession of our property at ........... as permitted by Law and our Agreement is ended.

It is noted that you have left behind a few bits and pieces of your property on the premises and that you have made contact with our Caretaker Manager by SMS text message expressing the intention to remove these. They must be removed by noon on 25th May 2007 otherwise the Trust will make arrangements to dispose of them in accordance with the Law.

The Trust will be applying to The DPS for your returnable deposit to be retained in full and re-paid to the Trust in settlement of the unpaid rental fee which was due on 19th April 2007. As soon as this payment has been received a final account will be sent to you detailing any costs for remedial work which was your responsibility to deal with under the terms of our Agreement and which was left by you undone, and any other outstanding costs which are to your account.'

I was never advised that my deposit was with the DPS and as our tenancy started on May 2006 - I was advised that the DPS only covers tenancy's commenced from April 2007 and considering the DPS only started in April 2007 and they had already given me a section 21 to vacate on 18th may 2007, back in January 2007, then I feel this means little given my tenancy agreement's commencement date and the surrounding issues.

Secondly, my mother lives in the address next door to the property I rented so it was highly unlikely that I was going missing! And they are aware of my mother living there as the last letter they sent stated that they would write to me at her address - as per their above letter, noone has informed them of my new address as the only bodies to know where I moved to was the local authority who housed me, and I believe they are very stringent with their data protection act so, this proves that residents in the property I am currently in gave me the correct information regarding my landlords representatives approaching them asking questions about me and where I've moved into, which I did not believe a landlord was really allowed to do.

 

Finally, regarding remedial work and final account, I advised in my recorded delivery letter that I was attending to this prior to the end date of 18th may and I believe that as they have changed the locks after I have communicated my intentions to them, then they have stopped me from being able to carry out such work and as such, why should I be liable to have to pay for them bringing in contract cleaners and who ever else they feel they need - also, they never provided me with an inventory at the start of the agreement so the landlord and I have never had a signed document to agree to the state of the property in the first place.

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Another quick point I'd like to make to clarify the position of I moved out without telling them, etc...

My daughter is in the same class as the daughter of one of the representatives so how I was to be going missing I do not know and secondly, and more importantly, I left belongings there so obviously my intention was to still go back to the property especially, considering as mentioned that one of the belongings left was a huge teacrate laden with personal documentation relating to myself and my daughter - I'm highly unlikely to have vacated the property completely and leave this kind of sensitive and personal information behind!

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Quick question - is this England or Scotland?

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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If you had paid your final month's rent, you should simply have contacted a locksmith.

 

But as I understand, unless your landlord agreed to you using the deposit as the final month's rent, your tenancy ended a month ago when you failed to pay the rent and your landlord has simply re-taken possession of his property.

 

However he still holds your deposit and if the contract states the deposit is held against condition of the property and rental arrears, not breach of contract, and you can prove you didn't harm the property you may get it back.

 

As for your belongings still in the flat. The Landlord may consider them abandoned. You should send him a recorded delivery letter, and keep a copy for yourself, clearly stating they aren't and you require them back.

 

 

:eek:

all wrong, very worrying. I am sorry but this post needs to serve as a warning to all board members; please, please unless you have considerable experience or knowledge do not offer advice!

By all means you can sympathise, talk about your own experiences etc but for God's sake, do not act as an expert if you are not as this may have tragic consequence.

This is also a warning to people seeking advice: this is a self-help website; it means there is absolutely no guarantee, no quality assurance, no benchmarks that the advice given is correct. Luckily, we do have propa experts :wink: here and we can correct each other without offence and hurt feelings, but READER BEWARE; ALWAYS seek advice from qualified, public liability-insured adviser if in any doubt or the siuation is complex. This is because even our experts can be wrong as we do not get to see all documents, hear both sides of the story etc.

[sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

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Completely agree Joa. As I say, I shall post a full reply tonight. I am sure jaocheu's advice was well intentioned, however unfortunately completely incorrect, and if you are not 100% sure , then by all means voice your opinion, but ensure you state you are not 100% - we are, after all, dealing with peoples homes here.

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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Joa,

 

Thanks for your reply. I may not be an expert however, I didn't believe this information to be correct in the slightest! :cool:

 

I completely appreciate your comments that this is a self help website and whilst I will not directly act on anyone's advice (unless there are any legal people here who fancy taking on my case for me :-D ) I still welcome others experience and knowledge in this area of expertise.

 

So......thank you all for your responses so far and please keep posting as the more information I have, the better. :wink:

 

Eva

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I would reiterate that I personally believe that you have a very strong case for unlawful eviction, harrassment and trespass. These are CRIMINAL matters. As such, you need to speak to the police(they will try and fob you off - dont let them!) and a solicitor(if you can afford one) as a matter of priority.

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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MrShed,

 

Thank you for your last post, I acted on your advice with the police again and they have now agreed that this is indeed a criminal offence and that they have logged this and will get some officers to contact me to arrange collection of my goods, etc...

 

I have also requested if they can advise whether it can be legally enforced that the landlord and/or his representatives do not make contact with me or any of the residents in my block regarding issues concerning me.

 

I have also in the interim sent another recorded delivery letter to the landlord which I have copied and pasted for you as follows;

----------------------------------------------------------------------

'Thank you for your letter dated 14th May 2007.

 

I am disappointed that you failed to address any of the points I raised in my last letter directly in your response, and can only assume that in ignoring them you are agreement with my concerns.

 

I am a little confused by your comment that I have completely vacated the property, where in fact I had begun to move items from....... to my new one prior to the tenancy end date of 18th May 2007. Fortunately, I had almost completed moving all items prior to your Caretaker Manager's changing of the locks at the property with no prior warning.

 

If you have chosen by way of changing the locks, so as to stop my entering the property to then call this my official 'vacating' of the property, then that again is your perogative. However, as you also admit I still have items in the property, it would seem inaccurate to believe I had officially chosen to vacate it prior to the agreed end date of the tenancy, 18th May 2007 which you had communicated to me.

 

Regarding contact with your Caretaker Manager, I have indeed attempted this contact on multiple occasions which to date have all been ignored so it is difficult to confirm whether or not I will be granted access on or before 25th May 2007. I will continue to do so and would be grateful if you could ask your staff to please confirm to me a selection of dates and times agreeable to them that I could come and collect my goods on, and I will confirm which dates and times work for me in response.

 

Regarding your final comments about keeping payments on record, I assume this is no different in terms of process from any other tenancy you have had in these circumstances, and more than welcome you to follow that due process.

 

Please note, regarding your comment as to outstanding remedial works. I am concerned that I will be charged for not having carried out actions I had planned to do, but cannot because you have chosen to cease my access to the property.

 

I am willing to arrange further dates to visit and carry out my intended cleaning and making good of the property prior to handover, if you choose not to allow me to do so, then I can confirm that I will find it difficult to agree to incur any such costs regarding cleaning of the property. As it has been your choice to not allow me to do so.

 

I'd like to take the opportunity to say that while this has been a trying time, I trust you feel you can raise any other further concerns in writing to me from yourself as I do not wish any further communication with your Caretaker Manager's once the remaining items have been collected.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Sorry, UPDATE:

 

I have just had a police officer attend my home who has contacted the landlords representative and has arranged to go with me to retrieve my goods tomorrow evening. He has advised that the representative of the landlord will contact me tomorrow to provide me with an actual time.

 

The PC has also assured me that he will indeed mention tomorrow at the collection that there is no need for any further contact from them to me and that includes any visits to my current property address or to tenants in my block.

 

Fingers crossed, I get the rest of my belongings tomorrow and they leave me alone for good. Of course I shall still seek advice relating to the other matters (i.e. requesting costs for remedial work when they had changed the locks and not allowed me access in order to clean up the property, etc..).

 

Thanks for all your support so far and I am still interested in any further comments! :-D

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Can I suggest you edit your post to remove the address....? Pleased that you have had some progression, and pleasantly surprised that the police seem to be taking it seriously.

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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:o OOPS! Thank you for pointing that out! I have edited that and taken the address out.

 

I was quite shocked also that they had however, the control room did say those who shout loudest get heard eventually! This call was my 4th log since Thursday, they probably just wanted to stop me calling them!

 

Either way, the PC who came around was very pleasant and kept it very professional and to the point. I think being 33 weeks heavily pregnant he may have pitied me slightly....

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These are great things about being pregnant....lol....milk it!

 

LOL, yes, in one respect it is but the hormonal, getting easily upset and distressed side is not as great! I was hoping to finally be able to enjoy what little time I have left of my pregnancy as they have taken me to hell and back since November 2006 however, it seems that the only professional perogative they wish to pursue is to continue their 'vendetta' against me!:(:mad:

 

Such a shame that under the circumstances, should they had used all this enthusiasm to have dealt with the matters I had highlighted to them which kick started this whole nightmare off, then this all could have been avoided. Considering they had such terrible tenants before, I would have thought to have had an exceptional one such as myself who in fact paid her rent 2 or 3 days early every month :o (how many tenants are that good?!) and looked after and treated the property with the respect she would give to her own, then dealing with the issues rather then acting defensively and down the path they decided to take, was a rather foolish action and completely unnecessary. Especially, as I'd assume that whoever takes on the tenancy moving forward, should they encounter the same issues, then it will only be a matter of time before they approach for assistance as I did!

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Quick question: In your first post you refer to the landlord as a private individual but the letter you quoted from them describes them as a Trust- is the landlord a housing association?

 

Hope this clarifies, the landlord is an individual however, he set up a discretionary trust (for inheritance reasons) which holds 3 properties within it, one I rented and the other two rented by each of his two representatives.

 

To update, I was able to collect the rest of my belongings with the police officer who kindly attended with me. I was quite impressed at how rude and sarcastic the representatives were towards me in front of the officer and he advised them to now leave me alone as they have no further reasons to contact me.

 

Also, the last letter I sent the landlord (the one above which I copied and pasted) has just been handed by to me today from the Royal Mail with a sticker which says that the landlord/his representatives have refused to accept it so, as far as I am concerned, if they refuse to accept my written communication I can assume that there will be no further contact regarding his comments for costs incurred for remedial works, etc.. :rolleyes:

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Fair question, but important to note that your legal rights do NOT change whether it is a HA or a private landlord.

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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Fair question, but important to note that your legal rights do NOT change whether it is a HA or a private landlord.

 

I was interested because an HA is regulated and I would have suggested making a complaint if Eva had been dealing with an RSL.

 

Sorry if this has been asked already but does the outstanding rent equate to the deposit held?

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The outstanding rent was £750 and the deposit I gave them was also £750.

 

Although, I am a little uncertain as in the contract it does state that after 14 days of late payment they can charge a rate based on 10% per annum of outstanding amount however, I did actually inform them that my deposit was to act as last months rent payment.

 

Personally, I had checked out their changing the locks and if they do pursue my via court for any costs at all then I will counterclaim on the fact that they unlawfully evicted me.

 

They claim I breached contract by not paying rent (whilst I was still under the tenancy - so in effect it is late not, not paid) and because I vacated the property leaving it empty (however, they contradict themselves in their communication to me as they say I left the property empty/vacated but also confirm that I had belongings there, including a teacrate full of personal documents so I obviously had not left it empty/vacated and done a disappearing act!).

 

On checking out where I stand, it appears that regardless if I owed months of rent (which I didnt) and even if contract was breached (which I feel it wasn't) then they still have to go via the court for a court order for possession or bailiffs warrant and cannot just simply go into the property and change the locks without any prior warning whatsoever!

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I believe (and I stand to be corrected on this) they could do that if you had abandoned the property. I think they would be laughed out of court if they tried to argue that however.

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