How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Ash Your Own Question
Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
75100385
Type Your Law Question Here...
Ash is online now

I hope you can help me with an issue relating a commercial

Resolved Question:

Hello, I hope you can help me with an issue relating a commercial rent contract.
In March 2015 I and 3 other friends decided to rent a soundproofed room to rehearse with our band.
After many struggles (demand is very high), I finally found a room based in a complex owned by a company called Way Out LTD . I arranged a viewing with one of the company’s directors, a guy named Tomas. We went to see the room and a few days later we decided to take it.
When we called Tomas to tell him that we decided to rent the room he showed us, he informed us that someone else had already taken that room, but he said he had another one, identical to the one he showed us, under construction at the time, and he proposed we took that one instead. He said the room would have been ready by the 1st of June.
We were fine with this, so I asked him to send us a contract via email.
I signed the contract on 26th of March, scanned it and sent it back to Tomas via email along with the required £600 deposit fee which Tomas confirmed he had received. The move-in date stated on the contract was 1st of June. Please also be noted that he never sent me a copy of the contract signed by him.
That was the last time we heard from him. He didn’t call us in June, when the room was supposed to be ready for us, therefore on July 12th I call him to tell him that, at this point, we are not even interested in the room anymore.
On the phone, he explained that they had issues with the constructing materials and therefore the completion of the room was delayed to late August / first days of September at the latest. He said that he would contact me as soon as the room was ready and, should we not want to go ahead anymore by then, he would advertise it again and as soon as he got someone else's deposits, he would happily refund ours back. He also states that demand for these rooms is sky-high therefore there won’t be any problems
Once again, Tomas fails to get in touch with us with any updates on the room in September, therefore on October 21st I decided to send him a text to check in. I could see the he received and read the text but he didn’t even bother replying.
On the 17th of November, fed up with his silence I decided to call him. After several unanswered calls, it’s clear to me that he’s just dodging my calls. To prove my point, I asked one of my other friends involved with the room to call him instead and that time Tomas answered on the first ring.
When my friend asked him about the room he played dumb, stating that he didn’t remember us as he had a lot of rooms and that he will need more details. My friend then offers to send him an email with a summary of what happened and a copy of the signed contract.
Once we sent him the email, we tried to call him back but he again started to dodge our calls. We decided to call him from yet a different number and this time, almost magically, he picks up.
I confronted him and he explained that he will discuss our situation with his business partners the next day.
On November 18th he sends me the following email:
“Hello,
yes now i recall you guys coming to see the studio.
You guys payed your holding deposit 8 months ago and we had your studio ready for you almost 6 months ago (this is a lie as on July he stated clearly the room was nor ready over the phone)
It was kept for you empty for over a month, you didn't get back to us - we found someone else long ago (Wether this is true or not, let me precise he has not contacted us to notify that the room was ready in any way)
"A holding deposit is normally non-refundable if you were to withdraw your application for tenancy."
http://www.tenantstips.com/Home/How-to-rent/How-do-I-apply-to-rent/What-is-a-holding-deposit#.VkxvK8orOu4
Thank You”
I was outraged by his email, which is riddled with lies, so the very same day I tried to ring a few lawyers to check if anything could be done to help me get my deposit back.
The majority of them didn’t help me as my case was too small, another listened to my story but told me that “I was screwed” and that there was nothing I could do.
This to me feels incredible: I mean, Tomas is the director of a genuine company that rents room to musicians and photographers.
I paid for a service that was never provided to me and apparently he can get away with my money?
Wouldn’t that be the same to walking in to a shop, ordering an article not in stock at that time, paying a deposit for it and then being told by the store owner that the article was back in stock, they kept it for me for over a month (without alerting me of this!!), selling my reserved article to someone else and keeping my money ?!
Can I at least report him and his company it to the police or to HMRC for fraud? or at the very list to any of those consumers watchdog organisations?
Please do let me know if you need any further details in order to elaborate an answer
Thank you
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you.
What is it you would like to achieve?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Alex, well, ideally i would like my money back. However, should you agree with what I was told by that other lawyer, so that 'I am screwed' I would then like at least to get justice involved and have either the police or the HMRC look into his business as I also have reasons to believe that this guy is not really declaring the right amount of taxes.ThanksLorenzo
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
You need to write and set out your losses and request a refund within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this signed delivery and keep a copy.
If they do not refund you then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk  or by completing form N1 http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n001-eng.pdf and take it to your local County Court.
The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.
If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim so you will not need legal representation. Over this value you would need representation for trial.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Alex
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes please, are there any costs involved in doing all this? And also, when you say 14 days, do you mean by the time we discovered the fraud (meaning November 17th) or from when I send the letter... I don't know if there's any legal value, but we did reply to his last email stating that should we not be able to resolve the dispute amicably we would have involved a lawyer/court.ThanksLorenzo
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
14 days from when you send the letter. The court costs (payable direct to Court) are found here:
https://www.unipol.org.uk/getmedia/586bee25-5217-46b4-9c7e-8e391fb4df5a/EX50.pdf.aspx
If its below £10,000 then you dont need a lawyer. Above this then you would for trial.
Alex
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ok, perfect. One last thing: I replied to his last email the following:"Hello Tomas & associates,We are actually quite surprised by your email, especially as you do not have the right to hold the deposit, please see below for a detailed answer to each of your points:1 - “You guys paid your holding deposit 8 months ago”We paid our holding deposit (£600) on the 26th of March.2 - “we had your studio ready for you almost 6 months ago.”This is a lie, as there is evidence of the contrary:
There is a phone call between Tomas and Law, made on Friday 12th June 2015 at 21:01 lasted 4 mins and 51 seconds in which Tomas states, and we quote:
"There was a problem with the construction materials and unfortunately the room will not be ready for you guys until September”.
This was 5 months ago, therefore either you were lying then, or you are lying now by stating that the room was ready for us 6 months ago.
As per the contract, the room should have been ready on the 1st of June 2015.3 - “It was kept for you empty for over a month, you didn't get back to us”Even if this was the truth (which is not), if the room was ready, how did you let us know exactly? Did you call us? Did you email us? Did you text us? The answer to all these questions is: NO, you did not, despite you having all of our contacting details on file.
At this point we are curious to know how exactly you planned on communicating to us that the room was ready and available then?4 - “we found someone else long ago”On this point, let us remind you that as per the aforementioned phone call between Law and Tomas, we quote again:“Demand for these rooms is very high, therefore, should you guys not want to go ahead, I will advertise the room and get you your deposit back as soon as someone else pays the deposit”.Also, we would like to remind you that in this case you are legally obliged to refund our deposit as we did not make any damage to the room (we have never even stepped into the room) and you had another deposit paid by the new tenant. Also this disproves the following point as well:5 - “A holding deposit is normally non-refundable if you were to withdraw your application for tenancy."Once again, this does not apply if you failed to provide the service the deposit was paid for, or if you rented that same room to someone else that has paid you a deposit.
In this scenario you did both.Also, as a final point, there is a text message from Law to Tomas sent on Wednesday October 21st in which Law asked if our room was now ready or not. The text was read by Tomas a day later (22nd October) and was never replied to, as well as numerous phone calls a month later: Tuesday November 17th.
This attitude does make us certain that you guys are not acting very candidly towards us, not to mention that we have never received a copy of the contract signed by both parties.We do wish to be able to solve this dispute amicably with you, however, should you guys not want to collaborate, we will be forced to involve a solicitor and we will be willing to take this case to a court if necessary to get our money back as, right now this does look tremendously like a daylight robbery.We are sure you guys are well aware, that court litigations can last quite a lot of time and they usually cause a lot of grief as costs can easily exceed the £600 region.
For these very reasons, surely all of us would like to avoid going through a court.Look forward to hearing from you shortly,Thank You"Is this valid to go to court or should I send him a physical letter via recorded post? if so, can I just copy the text of the above?Thank youLorenzo
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
No, if he responded you are ok. If he didnt respond then you need a letter.
Alex
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
no he never responded to my last email, so if I got this right I'll send him another letter via post?
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
Yes I would.
Does that clarify?
Alex
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes, thank you Alex! Will this conversation remain in my chronology so that I can read all the links you posted later on?
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
Yes.
Alex
If this answers your question could I invite you rate my answer before you leave today.
I am only paid for my work on this question if you rate my answer, using the star system at the top of the screen.  Please do not forget!  Thank you.
Please bookmark my profile if you wish for future help: http://www.justanswer.co.uk/law/expert-alexwatts/
Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you