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tdlawyer
tdlawyer, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 1096
Experience:  11 years experience of general practice.
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Hi, I have not paid my rent on time on purpose in order to

Resolved Question:

Hi, I have not paid my rent on time on purpose in order to get my landlord's attention to address maintenance issues at the property I am renting. The agency that manages the property sent a letter giving me 14 days to pay and added to the bill an adminstration fee of £30.00. Then I sent them a letter explaining why I haven't paid and that I was willing to pay if they were willing to address the issues. Instead of addressing the issues they sent the debt to a debt collector agency on the very next day, BEFORE the 14 days notice to pay. The collectors added £200.00 to the bill and sent me a letter. I ignored the collector letter as it was still within the 14 days period of the first letter I received from the agency and I paid the debt + the 30.00 fee BEFORE 14 days stated in the notice, however I am still getting threatening letters from the debt collector agency and the amount keeps increasing. What can I do? Can I sue the agency for harassment? Aren't they obligated to wait the 14 days before sending it to debt collectors?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  tdlawyer replied 3 years ago.

tdlawyer :

Hello, welcome to the website. My name isXXXXX can assist you with this.

tdlawyer :

What kind of issues are you having that led to you withholding the rent please?

Customer:

I had many different issues, the letter I sent them was stating that I want them to address the following issues:
1) the boiler has been faulty for at least 6 months, 2 engineers came in and said that PCB had to be replaced but that has not been done
2) they have entered the property for an inspection without my authorisation. They did give notice of the inspection but I did not allowed them to come in because I couldn't be at the property on the day they wanted to come in and so asked them to agree on another date. They ignored me and came in anyway while I was away.
3) I asked if they have protected my deposit as required by law, and asked them to supplied in which schema it was protected, they have never replied but I found out later that they protected the deposit 7 months late - when I asked about it. I am already taking action against the landlord for protecting the deposit late.

tdlawyer :

Okay so you will be saying that these amount to breaches of your tenancy agreement for which you can claim damages.

tdlawyer :

So long as there in no "no set off" clause in the lease, then you might be able to argue that your damages claim sets off the liability from their claim for the rent and the result is that no rent is due for the period concerned. This obviously depends on the amount of the damages claim compared to rent which is always difficult to assess but the argument it sound.

Customer:

the rent had to be paid on 12/04, I received the letter giving me 14 days to pay on the 15/04 which said that if I did not within 14 days not they would sent to debt collectors but then I received the debt collector letter on the 16/04 and paid the rent - not for the debt collector, just how I always pay by bank transfer, on the 23/04. However yesterday I received yet another letter from the debt collector agency

tdlawyer :

Yes this could go against them when the court works out who is right/wrong later on, but it's more about costs recovery than liability itself.

Customer:

but don't they HAVE to wait for the 14 days before sending it to the debt collectors?

Customer:

because this damages the credit report

tdlawyer :

Technically, no, not if you've said that you're going to withhold anyway. They will say that this amounts to a clear intention not to pay within 14 days in which case, they do not have to wait that whole period.

Customer:

but I said that I was willing to pay if they would address the issues for which I had no reply

tdlawyer :

They will say that the issues you mentioned in your letter did not need to be addressed and as such they were entitled to proceed.

tdlawyer :

They might be wrong of course, and must correct the issues first, but this will be the key to whether they could proceed within 14 days or not - whether you were right to withhold due to the issues you raised.

Customer:

so if it goes to court will I be able to defend myself and show that:
1) I did pay within the period they gave me
2) I did not have intention not to pay, my intentions was to get their attention to address the issues
3) most importantly they are in breach of the contract by not providing maintanance within reasonable time AND clearly did not protect the deposit within 30 days

Will I be able to tell this to the court if it they take me to court?

tdlawyer :

The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that you need to show you were right to raise the issues you did and that you can claim from them. And that there is no clause in the contract that says you have to pay them even if you have issues (which is rare in this type of contract).

tdlawyer :

If you show that you had these issues, then you should be able to claim for them. Your claim offsets their rental claim.

tdlawyer :

This means you reduce that rental payment and if your claim exceeds the rent amount, you were not liable to pay the rent that month and as such, they were wrong to claim against you at all.

Customer:

ok but I have paid already so I am no longer withholding. Surely they can't be charging me the amount if I have paid?

tdlawyer :

No, they can't, you're correct. So what this means is that it's about whether you were right to withhold at the start because I'm guessing they're only trying to recover their charges now, not the rent too. The same issue arises therefore: were you right to withhold or were they right to seek formal recovery. This goes back to whether you have the issues you say you did and whether you had a claim worth the same amount or more than the month's rent.

Customer:

ok, the amount they are charging does include the rent, as if I haven't already paid. The rent was 675 + 30 fee for being late. The debt collector was charging over 859.75 (probably including their fee) I paid the 675 + 30 via bank transfer as usual on the 23.04 . Yesterday the letter from the debt collector states the amount as 1003.71 as if I haven't paid the rent at all

Customer:

so should I just wait to go to court and then present my defense or should I write to this people to say that I have paid. What's my immediate curse of action?

tdlawyer :

If it were me now, I'd go to court and see what the judge thinks. It's a small claim anyway so its all pretty informal and easy to deal with.

Customer:

so I should file a small court claim against the agency? or against the landlord? or the debt collector?

tdlawyer :

If you wait for them to sue you - this would be a small claim.

Customer:

I read that as soon as a debt is sent to a debt collector my credit ratings are already affected, is that true and if I win would I get compensation as well as my name cleared from bad debt?

tdlawyer :

No it's not true.

tdlawyer :

Ratings only get affected when you have court judgments.

tdlawyer :

In this type of scenario.

Customer:

ah ok

Customer:

thank you!

tdlawyer :

Thank you!

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