Tenancy law in the UK

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Mord, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. Mord macrumors G4


    Aug 24, 2003
    I recently dropped out of university primarily due to finding life where I was living an utter hell, it was doing my mental health no good and I did not particularly enjoy the course.

    My mentalist flatmate was self harming so there were blood stains all over the place and her room was an absolute tip, the last time I was in the flat the kitchen was downright septic.

    I cleaned my room out and basically moved out, a couple of days later the landlady inspects the flat while my flatmate is at the other end of the country and is a bit "WTF", at that point I was willing to continue to pay rent however my flatmate tells the landlady that I trashed the flat, I tell her my side of it, I also let on that I'm skint and can't pay rent till the middle of the month.

    My flatmate tells me she's found a replacement tennant and that i'm not needed anymore and other than that brief snippet of information won't talk to me at all, I try to contact the landlady repeatedly but fail to get through. On top of this my flatmate runs up a £125 phone bill calling international mobiles before I cancelled the line.

    Naturally I'm disinclined to pay rent when I'm left entirely in the dark.

    Fast forward two months I get some missed calls on my phone from a withheld number and eventually I get some voicemail demanding that I pay rent immediately or she will "take action", I send a flurry of emails digging up an address for her daughter who was advertising the flat in the first place and manage to get through, I tell her my side and she says she'll inspect the flat today but I need to pay all my rent plus a £50 cleaning charge by the second of may.

    Given my deposit i'm essentially paid up until now, I just hope to hell that my flatmate wasn't lying.

    The trouble is that there was a year contract on the place, am I right in assuming that the worst she can do is evict me?

    What i'm basically asking is can she sue for damages and does it make sense for her to given that I'm skint?
  2. OllyW Moderator


    Staff Member

    Oct 11, 2005
    The Black Country, England
    I would contact Citizens Advice as soon as possible.
  3. Mr.Noisy macrumors 65816


    May 5, 2007
    Don't worry, worst she can do is keep your Bond, it will be hard for her to evict you if you have a contract between yourselves, I'd suggest reading the contract, find out exactly where you stand and as has already been mentioned contact citizens advice , good luck ;)

    p.s. it should also tell you in your contract the steps to take when leaving the property.
  4. Lau Guest

    OllyW is right – Citizens Advice Bureau is your best bet than any of us guessing the circumstances without reading your lease and so on.

    Make sure to let the CAB know that it was a lease in Scotland, as leases are slightly different up there. Hopefully you have a copy you can take along. It's most likely to be a Short Assured Tenancy though.

    It will also depend on the kind of lease you signed – unfortunately when you sign up to the kind of flat you were in you usually sign a joint and several lease (I think that's what it's called) that means that you're both responsible for each other, and if one of you fails to pay rent, trashes the place, does a runner or similar, you're both equally responsible for the rent or any damage. On occasion, you can sign a more separate lease, but this is more likely in a bedsit type situation in which you have self contained living spaces with lockable doors. In a usual student flatshare, you're most likely to have signed the first type, which unfortunately means you're responsible for her mess and so on.

    In other words, cleaning your room isn't enough under that sort of lease – you're responsible for all the public areas as well (at least - possibly even her room :eek:).

    Unfortunately, as well, your deposit can't (or shouldn't) be used for rent – so you would have to pay the rent on top of that, and you would then get the deposit back if the flat's deemed to be in good condition on your last day there. Which, unfortunately, sounds unlikely. I have heard of landlords letting that go as the last month's rent if they're not anticipating any problems or damage, but under these circumstances I would imagine they aren't likely to be happy about this as the whole point of the deposit is to be used to pay for any damage or cleaning bills – you can see their point of view on this, I'm sure!

    I would also make sure you get the landlady's word that there is a new tenant, or you'll be liable for any rent or damage until the end of your contract. They're not likely to have a problem of someone else taking over the lease (especially as you've been late paying rent!) but don't take your flatmate's word for it.

    I would go and speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau though – they will know far more about this.

    Edit: Mr Noisy, it looks as if Mord is intending to not pay her last month's rent as she's left a bond/deposit – they're much more likely to get arsey about this if there is damage that they wouldn't have returned the deposit to pay for.

    I would have thought they'd be much more unlikely to come after you, Mord, if you could pay the rest of your rent and let them keep/refund as much of your deposit as they see fit.
  5. Mord thread starter macrumors G4


    Aug 24, 2003
    I don't intend to ever live in the place ever again, I have completely moved out, ideally i'd like to not even set foot in there, I would have tidied her room more but frankly I'm not keen on slicing myself up with razor blades, they were all over the place, blood stains on the walls and piles of bloody tissues.

    I left my room immaculate and did a significant amount of tidying around the rest of the flat, I removed 5x bin bags or rubbish from a tiny two bedroom flat. One of those was from my room.

    Unfortunately we both signed the same contract >_<, I just hope that either the landlady as the sense to evict both of us or their actually is a new tenant.

    I'm also horrifically ill at the moment which does not help so I can't contact the CAB.

    Trouble is I don't actually have any money, even if I did I'd rather know WTF is going on before paying anything, communication has been horrific.
  6. Lau Guest

    Unfortunately, legally you are probably liable for a lot of this and until the year is up if the landlady decides she wants to do this. Look at it from her point of view – she's got two tenants, the flat's a state, and one of them seemingly has done a runner without paying rent and isn't answering phone calls. She's not going to be sympathetic to you under those circumstances.

    If you pay up everything you owe for starters she's likely to be a bit more sympathetic. You want to look like the sensible, non-flakey one here, otherwise what reason would the landlady believe your side of the story or to do you a favour and let you off any of the damage or let you leave your lease early?

    You can phone the CAB by the looks of it, so hopefully you can at least do that soon.

    Edit: Fair enough if money's tight – but can one/all of your girlfriends lend you the money?
  7. AppleMatt macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2003
    I would assume you entered an AST (6 month contract, renewed after 6 months?). Either way, it's not entirely relevant but it would be helpful if you dug it out and had a look at the title and see what type of tenancy agreement it is. Are you actually in England (not Scotland or Wales)? Please clarify your post it's a little 'panicky.' Who left the voicemail? Landlady or tenant? Don't for christsakes delete it, and don't delete any others left by her. If it is in any way hassling or threatening, the court looks very dimly on this sort of action.

    Stop panicking. Emails and phone-calls are suicide, you're doing her job for her and volunteering information. Wait for her to write, and then write back. Hopefully, you'll be able to resolve this amicably, however you should know that technically you are in the wrong. You should have given notice, and you shouldn't have admitted that you signed an agreement that you knowingly can't pay (although this snippet could work to your advantage).

    A) Yes she can, but only her losses as explained below. B) No not really, also explained below.

    Assuming this piece of information is true, you're not liable for the entire term. It works like this. Let's say I rent a house in Surrey for 6 months, but after the second month I lose my job and have to move back home. Legally, I am liable for the entire terms rent. However, equally the landlord is legally obliged to "mitigate their losses." Basically this means actively taking steps to find a new tenant as quickly as possible. You then only pay her damages, which in this case would be losses in-between tenants only. If this new tenant exists, you are in the clear. You need to find out if they exist, and if so when they moved in. It's possible that the landlord is abusing your ignorance (it's what landlords do to students) and is threatening to claim for the entire term whilst she's already got a new tenant in. This is very illegal.

    It may sound a little unscrupulous, but tenancy law is so heavily biased towards the tenant in the UK it's obscene. But use it to your advantage. If I'm being perfectly honest, she's not going to take you to court to claim. It is a long, arduous and expensive process, and even if she got judgement against you she knows that getting the money (as you're apparently skint) is another battle. She will put it down as a loss.

    Finally, I'd suggest looking at it from her point. A few weeks ago she had a nice flat and guaranteed rent. Now she's got a wrecked flat and half rent. Even acknowledging that you are aware of her situation could well go a long way to resolving the issue. Although it looks like it already might be, don't see it as a battle. Not all landlords are bad, and they're all real people with real problems.

  8. Lau Guest

    Mord was based in Scotland for this lease, I believe, which is most likely to be a Short Assured Tenancy (I left a link above). It's similar to an AST, with a 6 month contract and then a review to usually go to month by month after that. I think some studenty flats make you sign up for the year though (which it sounds like Mord did).

    I know what you're saying here, AppleMatt, but I just wonder if a lot of hassle could be avoided by just getting a bit more information from the landlady about what the situation actually is (such as what she actually owes, whether this tenant exists and has actually signed a lease, what any damage actually is, etc), explaining her case clearly and paying what she owes, and then the landlady is most likely to be fairly accommodating (most of them are).

    The chances are she just wants her money (and to be shot of the troublesome tenants!) – she may well be very reasonable about it if Mord can do this.
  9. AppleMatt macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2003
    Sure, just to clarify, I totally advocate resolving it amicably. Obviously both parties feel that they are being treated unfairly so a compromise would be better than a judgement.


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