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Jamie-Law
Jamie-Law, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 5027
Experience:  Solicitor
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We had people staying as tenants via Airbnb (paid for by the

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We had people staying as tenants via Airbnb (paid for by the German embassy) who repeatedly asked to take the booking off Airbnb to a private basis. Eventually we agreed and issued a contract. They did not sign the contract. Then they announced they would be leaving and paid their final month's rent (up to 14th October). They said they might leave early since we had blocked off a year's bookings (turned people away etc.) and they would thus be giving us a chance to advertise before the apartment was suddenly free again.
We were grateful for the offer.
Some time into October I asked them by email whether they were still planning to leave early (while reminding them of their right to stay until 14th) because there were works we needed to book to be done in the apartment and it would be good to get a date. They replied that they would have moved out completely by Sunday 9th October. I replied to say that works would start on Monday.
On Monday 10th October the end of tenancy cleaners arrived to find the tenants had not completely moved out. The cleaners folded clothes lying around and packed them neatly in a bag. They accidentally threw away an envelope and a small bag containing a plastic bottle with a drizzle of bicycle oil in it. They cleaned the fridge but replaced all food. They folded bed linen etc (the beds were already stripped).
Later that afternoon I received a series of abusive texts accusing the cleaners of ruining valuables etc. and demanding a four day refund (to the end of the tenancy).
The gist was that the tenant had expected to be able to go on using the apartment even though he had said he would leave. (Indeed he departed for Berlin the next morning).
I panicked and said yes we would refund. However when the texts continued about lost objects I went through all the rubbish bags, found the bag with oil, found the missing envelope (another thing claimed to be missing was later discovered in the tenant's own luggage) and returned them to the tenant.
We at no point asked for the keys to be returned.
The next day the tenant's work colleague (with whom he was living in our apartment and with whom he had moved on somewhere new) arrived to collect the items and also left the keys.
I subsequently received a Paypal demand for 4 days' rent.
Followed now by a letter threatening lawyers.
The tenants did not sign a contract.
The tenants offered by email to leave on Sunday 9th.
The tenants agreed works could start on Monday 10th.
When works did start the tenants then became angry.
Do they have any legal basis for a claim?
Since their entire rent was paid by the German embassy - who may also pay for expensive lawyers (since who knows what the embassy has been told about the situation) I am nervous about engaging legally with them.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
P.S. None of the tenants' possessions is missing by the way.
They claim that bed linens were removed which is not true, bed linen (the beds were already stripped by the tenants) was folded and left in the apartment ready to launder.
They claim that because they could not enjoy full use of the apartment for the final four days they must now be refunded but in fact they volunteered to leave and had been told that renovation work would start which seems to preclude the notion of still living there. (Though of course they may have misunderstood this).
I can supply the email exchanges if necessary.
However the exchange in which the tenant rants about what has happened and I initially agreed to refund (before going to check the apartment for myself and also finding his lost items) is in text not email.
Basically they will be able to afford a top lawyer and we will not. Also any money from rent would of course disappear in hiring a lawyer.
So I would like to know what exactly we should do to handle this.
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

What is it you want to achieve please?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am confused! I just paid this site $55 which I obviously wrongly understood was the fee to have my question answered.
Do I have to pay again for an answer?
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

I can call you if you prefer, as some customers do, this is additional cost. Or we can keep it online if you want?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think online would be best.
An estate agent has just advised us that without a contract or a written notice to quit from the tenants we are in a very grey and muddy area.
Also when the cleaners arrived and found the tenants were clearly still in situ they should have informed us and left the premises.
However, keys were not returned until 2 days later so if, by the tenants' own admission, they were still in situ during that time, then perhaps only 2 days' rent are refundable.
The agent advises to a) respond to the reference to the offer of a refund by saying (as is true) that this offer was made on the understanding that possessions had been damaged and lost which turned out not to be the case and b) point out that the claim for refund is made on the basis that the tenants regarded themselves as still in situ and only returned the keys on the evening of the 12th, which means that a maximum of 2 days' refund is due.
What do you think of this?
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

As of 14th Oct did they move out?
What is the cost of cleaning and putting things right as to the damage they caused?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm also concerned as to how to respond to a German government sponsored solicitor's letter without access to legal representation! (Clearly obtaining that would be more expensive than the disputed amount).
It is my guess that the tenants (whose living expenses are entirely paid by the German embassy) decided to move and then perhaps were reprimanded for paying two rents simultaneously (and costing the embassy more money) so decided to attempt to regain some money for the embassy.
Either that or they just fancy having some free cash for themselves.
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

As of 14th Oct did they move out?
What is the cost of cleaning and putting things right as to the damage they caused?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They caused no damage and I took full financial responsibility for the end of tenancy clean. (There was no obligation for them to pay for it in the unsigned contract).
They returned keys on the evening of 12th October instead of morning of 14th October as it would have been per unsigned agreement.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The references to damage come because they were claiming that the cleaners had touched their clothes (folded underwear) and disposed of their possessions (one dirty plastic bag with a nearly empty bicycle oil bottle, one envelope with an illegal voting form - wrong address etc. - both of which were found and returned to them).
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

Given they paid up to 14th October it was up to them whether they moved out.

They chose to but did not have to.

You do not have to refund any of this cost. Indeed you would be able to issue proceedings for the lost rent.

Just because you do not have a contract does not mean there is not one - there is one by conduct.

You do not have to refund them anything, they paid to 14th and could have left then

Therefore you do NOT owe anything

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
But now they have shifted their claim to being that despite having offered to leave early while paying to 14th they were not able to enjoy use of the apartment and thus should be repaid.
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

No they do not.

Does that clarify?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They are claiming that because towels were folded and bed linen folded they were de facto unable to use the apartment. (Nothing was actually removed).
So if they send a solicitor's letter how should I respond? I realise that's a big question but I have no doubt they will proceed with this.
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

That is not right. There is no claim against you.

Does that clarify?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How could we issue proceedings for lost rent?
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

You need to write and set out your losses and request money for lost rent 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://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/hmctsformfinder/n1-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?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks. But did we lose any rent? I don't think we did?
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

No I dont think you did.
But you do not have to pay anything back.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They paid to 14th having verbally given notice one month previously. The agreement they asked for but didn't sign was a holiday let as they refused to sign an assured shorthold tenancy agreement
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

Yes. You do NOT need to give them any money back.

What else do you want to know?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Should we ignore their demand or simply state we have consulted a solicitor and don't believe we owe money?
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

Yes ignore the demand

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks. So no response. Sorry. I will stop asking...
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

No thats ok - do you have anything else to ask?

Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

If I could ask you to rate my answer before you go today, by clicking on the 5 stars or happy face, otherwise the site does not pay me for the time spent with you today. Thank you in advance and good luck!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks. I will certainly do that. I have one last question. The estate agent thought that because I had responded to the initial vitriolic texts demanding money back by saying I would issue a refund (before I had checked the flat, found their items etc.) I may be liable. Does my agreement by text make me liable?
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

No.

Jamie-Law and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks. I will go and give happy face now.
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 year ago.

Thanks