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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Hello, I just need some very quick advice on the following

Resolved Question:

Hello,
I just need some very quick advice on the following situation please:
Last year I moved out of a warehouse flat I shared for 6 years with 3 others. Whilst at this property there was never any contract between us and the landlord, and he collected the rent each month in cash in person. There were never any receipts.
I was in charge of collecting our individual rents together and passing the total to the landlord each month. At some point during the tenancy we began paying part of the rent in a bank transfer, and part in cash to him (still never any receipts). This was because some of my flatmates were paid in cash themselves.
After a while this became a pain because it meant odd figures in cash and odd figures in bank transfer and I began to think that with no receipts this guy is liable to get confused, so I just reverted to giving him the whole amount in cash again. Still with no receipts (as before).
This contnued until Oct last year when I left. The rent collection duty passed to another flatmate.
Around Dec last year (2 months after moving out), I was contacted by the (now ex) landlord to say that he had not received the bank transfer part of the rent for the previous 10 months. He claimed to have no knowledge at all of me reverting to giving him the whole rent in cash as before.
After a few texts and phone conversations where he basically just ended up denying any knowledge of it, he says I owe him 10,000 pounds in rent. I started to think he had maybe just thought up a scam based on the fact he has never given any receipts (despite us insisting on them every month for 6 years, as well as a contract). How anyone would not notice 10,000 pounds not being in their account for almost a year I have no idea.
Since then I had heard nothing further from him for a year, until now. I've since been told by my ex flatmates who have remained tenants of his, and friends of mine, (and from whom he also tries to demand this imaginary year's worth of unpaid rent) that he wants to take me to court. Citing my bank statements as evidence because they will have records of the large cash withdrawals for the rent.
Whilst I almost welcome court action just for this to be resolved, I am aware that I have no receipts at all for all the rent ever paid to him, we had no contract, no tenancy agreement, no nothing. And I'm just wondering if he knows more about UK tenancy law and is in a stronger position than me, even though on the face of it it is just my word against his. I am also aware that I got married that year (the reason I moved out) and we received lots of cash gifts from parents and relatives, some of which I used to pay rent with as it was cash already there, so those withdrawls won't be represented on my statements.
Could you please tell me if a) it sounds likely that he will take this to court, b) whether he has any probability of convincing a judge that we still owe him a year's worth of rent, or c) if I am actually just thinking about this too much because there is no proof of anything?
Any help would be extremely appreciated.
Thanks
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts :

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

Alex Watts :

Just to be clear, no tenancy agreement was ever signed?

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

Hi, thanks. Ok, there was never a tenancy agreement signed UNTIL Dec 2012, when after demanding one for years (and years prior to my arrival in the house as well), he produced a 2 page agreement valid for 1 year (until Dec 2013) which he clearly just downloaded off the Internet from somewhere. I read it and signed it. There was nothing in the there that was untoward, it was extremely basic. I was the only one who signed it. It was only signed to agree the rent amount and ensure it would not go up for the next year.

Alex Watts :

Did anyone else sign it?

Alex Watts :

When was it fixed period until?

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

No no one else signed it. It was fixed until Dec 2013.

Alex Watts :

OK and remind mw when you left?

Alex Watts :

What did it say about termination?

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

Sure. I left in Oct 1st 2013.

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

I'm pretty sure it didn't say anything, however, and I know this sounds odd but knowing the kind of person he is/was, I don't even think he remembers that we signed an agreement.

Alex Watts :

Ok - so you are liable until Dec 13 but thats it

Alex Watts :

The contract was for 2 months more so you are only liable until then

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

He isn't really persuing anything in the contract and hasn't even mentioned it, he is more focussed on this money that he says I didn't pay him.

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

But yes, technically I am liable until Dec 2013

Alex Watts :

Yes but that is it. 2 months, nothing more.

Alex Watts :

As for historic as long as you can show payments that is fine, via bank

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

Yes but the payments were in cash, and there were never any receipts

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

What he is arguing for isn't the 2 months past the contract termination, but for the 10 months previous

Alex Watts :

He would have to prove you had not paid.

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

From Jan 2013 - Oct 2013 he is saying that he didn't receive the rent.

Alex Watts :

If they were historically paid by cash then it seems strange only a year later he is chasing this.

Alex Watts :

If he didnt get the rent then I am sure he could have instructed bailiffs to take possession or issued Court proceedings

Alex Watts :

This is a lot of money so very strange he just left it until now

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

Yes it was historically paid by cash, then a brief period with bank transfer that didn't work, then reverting to cash payments with no receipts.

Alex Watts :

OK - but then again as soon as you are a month late he can get bailiffs to reposses

Alex Watts :

So again seems strange he did not

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

I guess the crux is, at this late a date for such a large amount (as you point out), can it be taken to court to prove cash payments without a receipt? Can bank statements be requested as proof of payment (even though they only prove a withdrawal)?

Alex Watts :

He would have to prove payments were not made.

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

I guess you already said he would have to prove that I had NOT paid, rather than me prove that I had. Even though it is practically impossible for either of us to do that.

Alex Watts :

Indeed. A Judge would take a view, which is the more likely version

Alex Watts :

As I have said its unlikely to would wait a year before doing anything

Alex Watts :

Normally a Landlord would take action as soon as you are a month late.

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

I wouldn't be thinking about it but for the fact that I got married that year and we got a lot of cash gifts from family, some of that cash was used to pay rent...just because I already had the cash there. So the statements wouldnt reflect a withdrawal for that month....if you see what I mean

Alex Watts :

Indeed. So it would be more likely you had paid

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

Well yeah, normally a landlord would be right on the ball with missed payments. This guy has waited almost a year to chase for it, which is what makes me think he's just cooked up this plan knowing no one has any receipts. Maybe a judge believes him and maybe he doesn't.

Alex Watts :

Indeed.

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

I'm not 100% sure how this works or if I have any more time to add details at a later date (just to put mind at ease)...

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

Not that there's anything important to add. Just that I am at work and rushing a bit.

Alex Watts :

Sure. If you have finished for the moment you can rate my answer. The button will be at the bottom of the screen

Alex Watts :

If you want to ask me more questions later you can start the question: FOR ALEX W - I can then pick it up

Alex Watts :

If you need more help from me now, please click reply

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

Ah ok, thanks. I'll rate below. I've been over the whole thing quite a bit in my head over the last year to try to figure out if it is more likely that he has misplaced ten thousand pounds in cash, or if he is just trying it on. He has had a court case with tenants on a different floor of the building, and lost, he had to pay all their court fees as well.

Alex Watts :

Indeed. I think he is just trying it on,

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

And I only moved a street away so sooner or later I will run into him in the street

Alex Watts :

You can show payments went out, ie cash withdraws around that time for a similar amount

Alex Watts :

That is enough

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

Nice to know I have some legal confidence now, thanks.

JACUSTOMER-zaayk8kt- :

Ok I'll post back anything I think of.

Alex Watts :

Happy to help.

Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
Ash and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi again, just going over my bank statements, there aren't a lot of withdrawals on there. I know some of it was paid from wedding gift cash like I said, and some was from my then fiance. There are some transfers to prepaid credit cards on there too.

But this is like 2 years ago nearly now and I have no idea what was withdrawn when. Sometimes I know he used to come to collect whatever cash we had at the time, and then would come back for the rest at a later date. So that's not helpful either.

This landlord even gave me a reference for my new place. Why would he vouch for me if he thought I'd taken ten thousand pounds from him?

Do you think I need to prove through my bank statements that this cash was even withdrawn? Or am I literally just at the mercy of a judge's opinion on who's story is more likely?

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Reference - exactly. Why would he give this?
Its hard to say as it will be down to a Judge.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes I thought it might be.

The thing is. If I was actually going to steal his money, I mean if I had planned to just say the cash had been paid (basically bluffing each and every month for nearly a year, whilst continuing to live there) and that he had just forgotten the arrangement, all I would need to do really is make sure I withdrew the cash each and every month so that it would appear on my statement. I could stick it under my bed or whatever. Then that would be there in black and white. But reality isn't like that so it doesn't appear like that.

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Indeed. Its not always black and white but which version is more likely than not.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi again, a bit of an update on this situation. My ex landlord has been in touch with my friend (who is still his tenant at the same place), and issued the following ultimatum: "let's meet and discuss this money or I will take it to court and I have a very good lawyer and will make you pay the costs of the case".


 


So what that says to me is he is trying to extort money out of me under threat of taking the case to court.


 


I have no proof that I paid him his rent (like I said before, in cash and no receipts), and he has no proof that I didn't.


 


He is doing it through my friend because he doesn't know where I live.


 


Is there anything further you think I should do like contact citizen's advice or hire a lawyer? Or is that just money wasted because of a crazy threat of court action?

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