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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3695
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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I am the director of a private English language school in Oxford.

Resolved Question:

I am the director of a private English language school in Oxford. We have a small number of student houses which we rent. We normally make rooms available to our students only, but recently in order to fill empty rooms we took on a handful of students from the university in Oxford. I now have a situation with one such student who has reneged on our verbal agreement to pay in installments (having previously been very behind with his rent). He has signed one of our in-house 'student house contract', rather than a tenancy agreement. I put pressure on him to pay saying that I would evict him the following day if he failed to pay his arrears. He is now saying that he is suffering with chest pains because of the threats I am making. Any suggestions as to how I should proceed?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you for your question and welcome.
My name is ***** ***** I will assist you.
DO the students have exclusive possession to the accommodation? For example do you have a cleaner or someone that is allowed to enter the room without notice?
Have you followed the provisions of the agreement to serve notice to terminate? Does the agreement allow you to terminate for rent arrears?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi AJ

We have cleaners that are allowed to enter the property without notice.

See this clause from the student house contract:


A representative of the school, landlords and agents can visit and check the communal areas of the house at any time without giving you prior notice. Your bedroom will be checked by the house coordinator at least once during your stay, letting you know 24 hours in advance. If you stay for a longer period of time, your coordinator will check your room once in four weeks. If suspicious behaviour or breaking of house rules is reported to the student house coordinator, or a member of the school staff, then a spot check of your room can be carried out without giving prior notice.

We are allowed to terminate the contract if a student breaks any of the house rules. I take this to include non-payment of rent. See this from the contract:

The school reserves the right to make further charges in case of other misconduct carried out by the student. In the event of severe rule violation and misbehaviour the student can be dismissed from the school’s accommodation.

Many thanks

Niko

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
This sounds to me like you have a licence not a lease. This means you can terminate with immediate effect and regain possession(or as the contract allows). A licence means that (unlike a lease) you retain possession of the property and the person occupying it is effectively doing it with your contractual consent. This contractual consent can be withdrawn if they are in breach of the contract for example for not paying the rent.
Unless there is any great risk to your reputation as a school (or your relationship with the University). I would serve him with written notice to leave and letter before action in order to recover the over due rent.
In relation to the "chest pains" - I think you be best advised not to communicate with him directly any more - I would say the best thing would be serve him with a solicitors letter because the gravitas of having a letter from a solicitor will make him take notice. You can also potentially put him on notice that you may consider just entering the room and removing his effects.
Can you access the lock to his room? Does the agreement say anywhere on it, the words "exclusive possession" or lease?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks AJ

No, the agreement doesn't say the words "exclusive possession" or lease.

Yes, we can access the lock to his room.

Would you like to quote me for issuing the letter?

Regards

Niko

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
In all likelihood this does sound to me like it is a licence an not a lease.
I would estimate if you ask a local solicitor just to write a letter it should cost no more than £200. http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/ You can find a local one here.
My opinion is that given the allegations he has made (which sound convenient to me) to avoid you prejudicing your rights or doing any damage to reputation this should be corresponded through a solicitor.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
AJ
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