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Buachaill
Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10623
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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I have a property under mortgage which I had to rent out as

Customer Question

I have a property under mortgage which I had to rent out as it would not sell while I was working over 200 miles (having moved home). the tenant choose to move out after 9 months (of a 12 month contract). She was supposed to give 2 months notice (or at least pay 2 months rent after giving notice) according to the contract. I happened to visit not long after she gave notice and she asked if she had a free boiler fitted could she not pay the final month's rent. I reluctantly agreed to this as I felt bulldozer into it as she made me feel sorry for her (I regretted this, but as I had agreed verbally and had been advised by the estate agent that they didn't expect her to pay it, that I might as well see if she did do this). At the end of the notice period she ended up paying that rent as well as organising and contributing £150 towards the boiler
I went to visit the property after she moved out and was disgusted with its condition and was very upset by the condition she had left my home in (in my opinion she broke the following terms of the tenancy agreement: 4.3- did not inform me or agent of 2 repairs [boiler cupboard damage and water damage on a wall], 8.8/ 8.9/ 8.16- not make alterations without consent [she drilled holes to put a TV on the wall without telling me], 8.23- smoked at the door and left cigarette butts all over the front & back garden, 10.1- she had a cat at the end of tenancy without asking permission [spotted by a person viewing and mentioned to estate agent], 12.1- she left a key for the backdoor on the outside window sill [this will have made my insurance invalid], 21.1- not cleaned to a good standard, 21.2- did not pass me the meter reading despite asking for these)
I however did not dispute any of these issues in lieu of her organising and paying £150 towards the fitting of a new boiler- due to the request made by her to be excused of the final rent payment in exchange for this. As she did pay the final rent, I decided to release the full deposit without disputing these as an in kind gesture since the rent negotiation was not needed. When I emailed the estate agent to release the deposit, I did state this reasoning. Please see wording below;
"I am writing to confirm I am happy to release the deposit to the tenant.
There have been a few issues that I could have disputed the deposit over, but the tenant arranged and contributed a small sum towards a new boiler in the property due to her benefits status.
Therefore, the small items of despite would be worth less than the value of the new boiler and I am happy to write these off in lieu of this large gain for the property."
The tenant now has contacted the estate agent and myself to claim the last months rent back. Ii have explained to the estate agent, but they are unwilling to deal with the issue (there is an ongoing complaint with them based on their poor service as a property management service).
I want to know if I am legally allowed to leave this as it stands or whether I have to give her back the last months rent as she is requesting?
Do I also now have a right to dispute the tenancy agreement terms and claim she owes me for the contractors employed to return the property to a reasonable standard after releasing the deposit based on her new claim?
Please, please, please advice clearly to help me in my correspondence and also what next steps I may need to take to put this to bed.
Kind regards
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.
1. The first thing is that you don't have to return the final months' rent. This is because a tenant is obliged to pay rent for the full 12 month term they have contracted to do. Here, this tenant did not adhere to her contractual obligations. So you definitely can keep this months' rent she is claiming back.
Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.
2. secondly, you can claim back the costs associated with bringing the property back to a reasonable standard even though you have released the deposit. In law the tenant is obliged to keep the property in reasonable repair. So failure by the tenant to do so allows you to place the costs associated with returning the tenanted premises to a normal state from the tenant.
Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.
3. My considered opinion is that if you instead of paying money back to this tenant, claim additional months rent and the costs of returning the property to a reasonable state, then this tenant will let things lie and not pursue any claim for a month's rent. I think it is an attempt to retrieve as much money as you are willing to pay from you.
Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If I refuse to pay her anything back and advice that the matter is closed, and she was to go to a solicitor would she have any right to enforce the verbal agreement with the help of solicitor?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Since I agreed to accepting the boiler in lieu of the rent, but she paid the rent (even if she now claims it was unintentional), was my decision to move that dispensation over to the deposit instead of the rent an acceptable decision? I am happy with my action (she did me a favour, so I did her a favour by not disputing), am I in a strong position with this decision?
Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.
5. The first thing is that the verbal agreement would not be enforceable as it was made without any consideration (something of value) being given. The second point is that I would advise you to raise a Counterclaim and state that she owes you more money, if you want this matter to go away. I very much doubt that this lady will let things drop if you merely advise that the matter is closed. The third point is that it matters little that you might have attributed the money for the boiler to either rent, the boiler or any other matter because at the end of the day this woman owed you 12 months rent in total which she didn't pay you. So you should now seek the full 12 months rent off her whilst making allowances for what has been paid.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much!
What would be the process to begin to resolve this in a legal sense?
Would I need to hire a solicitor to do this, or would I need to go back to the estate agency who organised and arranged the deposit bond to deal with this?
Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.
6. I would simply advise you to correspond with the lady herself and write her a letter seeking payment of the full 12 months rent. YOu can get the estate agent to do this on your behalf, but that will cost you money. If your aim is simply to ward off any asking of money from this woman, I would advise you to do it yourself and not pay other people to do so.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much!
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry- I have just gone back to review the agreement.
There is a break clause included which says that either party can terminate by giving 2 months written notice.
This obviously means that she does not owe the full twelve months.But does the rest of your advice still stand?
I.e. Can I still claim dispute on the deposit even though the deposit has been released?
Agreement says the time limit for sending a dispute to Tenancy Deposit Scheme for adjudication is 3months (which we are still within).
Can I evoke this clause even though the money has been released?Sorry for further delayed query
Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.
7. Even if she exercised the break clause there would have been 11 months rent owing. She ended at nine, plus two additional months notice. So you can claim this. Secondly, the rest of my advice still stands.
Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.
8. You can still invoke the dispute on the deposit but it is rather pointless as the deposit is now paid over. So don't do this.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
So sorry, I'm a little confused.She gave notice to leave in September.
I received a phone call on 18th September to advise me she was giving her notice.
(She moved in on 22nd January and paid her rent up front each month, so rent payment was 22nd each month for the coming month)
She moved out on 17th October, but paid on 19th October.Am I right in my calculations that she did pay the 2 months notice worth of rent?Could I invoke the right to dispute the deposit (without looking to gain money back) to justify my refusal to return the last rent? I.e. Encourage her to stop the request for rent & accept that we are now even
Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.
9. If this lady gave her notice in September, she would then owe the rent due in September 22nd and on 22nd October. So she owed you the rent paid on 19th October. So I don't see how she could claim this back. However, no more rent would be owed to you and that is different to my earlier view when I suggested she would owe the entire 12 months rent. However, there is no need to justify the refusal to return the last rent paid on 19th October as this was lawfully owing. However, you can claim from her the cleaning costs as this is allowed under the lease. That is what you can raise against her.