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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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I have quite a complex case. I am a Landlord and was defrauded

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I have quite a complex case. I am a Landlord and was defrauded by individual will refer to him as "MRM" who falsely represented himself as a reputable relocation agent who had a particular corporate client (Investment bank in London) looking to rent for 2 years my property for one of the employees from NY relocating to London, therefore he persuaded me to grant the tenancy for that particular corporate tenant reeady to move in. The agent was supposed to manage the property for the duration of the contract and take first month rent as management fee and to be named as a Tenant on agreement between me and relocation agent. Once MRM obtained the keys from the property as his client was due to move in on 4th January and the contract was supposed to commence on that day, MRM was going to provide me with duly signed agreement as well as rest of required details about the corporate tenant and I was chasing him since then. On the 4th Feb when I have not received a fist rent I asked him when the payment was made and her reverted back via email saying his client is now paying on 17th for all properties they renting, so my payment date will change to 17th of each month. At this point I understood something went really wrong and went to the property nonetheless he tried to prevent our contacts with his client as the property was supposed to be managed by the agent. When I met with people who moved in, I saw a family with many children, introduced myself as landlady and asked how was their move from US, they were surprised with my question and said they lived in the UK for 12 years. so now on, I knew they are not people we were expecting on my tenancy. I requested a meeting on the following day to discuss all details how they got posession of the property. I continued my search about individual and acidentally on the internet found a blog of victims where I recognised MRM on the picture, apparently there are hundreds of tenants and landlords who were defrauded by him in the last 5 years. Apparently there is existing criminal invistigation into dealings of MRM and on this particular case there are 75 victims.
During my meeting with occupants we found out they are family of 8 with six children, on low income, with housing benefits support. They found our property advertised through gumtree at the end of Jan on a lower price, they approched him, loved the house but said they unable to afford that amount of rent and MRM accepted their offer which is 30% lower of market price. As situation became complex and I couldn't understand my legal position, I went to seek legal advice from solicitor, as obviously I have never received a duly signed copy from the agent, also they are not people I was expecting to be tenants, neither professional tenants without any gurantees. I have tried to resolve situation by offering them to sign undertaking on existing contract or signing brand new contract and even offered alternative more affordable accommodation, as the rent is exceeding their monthly income, therefore not affordable and they never went through tenancy check, neither i have seen their IDs, I understand they are originally from Congo. Once occupants failed to resolve this situation, I had to instruct solicitor. Solicitor advised to take them to court as I satisfied all conditions for IPO. we went to county court and were granted IPO and court asked occupier to leave immediately. Occupiers refused to leave the house and remained there until final hearing for the next 30 days, nonetheless even police went to advise them if they stay longer it will be a criminal offence. Also they didn't file defence on the date give as a deadline. But a day before hearing they obtaibned cerificate for legal aid and brought Councel to final hearing, although I understand current law doesn't allow legal aid to squatters. We just had another hearing and different judge couldn't make a decision and asked for proper 1 day trial. I am absolutely gutted and do not understand what to do in this case and unable to waist my money on frustrtating litigation. these people are still occupying my property, I'm being pushed to accept them as tenants either on existing fake contract they have with that individual who called himself as a landlord on a fake identity of the property or advised to sign the contract with them, but I know they will never pay money and I'll end up going to court again. I really got lost what to do. Also they barrister asked me to make them attractive offer. what kind of offer I suppose to make?
Appreciate advice on above, as would like to hear third party opinion.

Alex Watts : Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return You do not need to wait here as you will get an email when I reply.
Alex Watts : Have they now filed a defence? If so on what basis are they defending please?

after last hearing they have deadline to file defence till next Tuesday, I understand they trying to defend that I have a signed contract with this individual and let him to sublet it to anyone and therefore they entitled to have their tenancy


but judge at the first hearing had no doubts they are tresspassers and granted IPO. Also these people claimed housing and pocketed housing payments, I know this for sure from Housing, although on witness statement they said they don't receive housing payments yet.

Alex Watts : Does your main tenancy prevent sub letting please?

my main argument is that he never returned duly signed contract, that's why I questioned court if the contract is valid, which I thought we got an answer when judge gave us IPO. he didn't have rights to sublet without my pre-approval to anyone else

Alex Watts : Yes indeed.
Alex Watts : It sounds like the judge is just trying to give them an opportunity to argue their case, even though they have no case.

there are so many inconsistencies, my contract supposed to start on 4th Jane, they signed their from 1st Feb. my rent is £2300, their rent is £1600.

Alex Watts : The overriding objective of the civil procedure rules states a judge must act in the interst of justice.
Alex Watts : Therefore I suspect that on the next occasion the order will be made final.

what does that mean?

Alex Watts : But as they are sub letting they may get 2 months norice to leave.
Alex Watts : This means they are likely to have no defence, but are likely to be given a little time to leave.

I can not afford to pay for 1 day trial, it will bring me to the edge of bankruptcy, I already had to sell car to continue to pay mortgage and legal fees

Alex Watts : I see. You could approach the Bar Pro Bono unit
Alex Watts : They may be able to help with representation.

will I be open to litigation against me, as I secured warrant posession, but eviction didn't take place due to last court's decision

Alex Watts :
Alex Watts : The warrant is likely to be suspended. You can't evict without a court order being made final.
Alex Watts : If there was an interim order,if you seek to evict now and the judge overturns that order, you may face costs.

they managed to dismiss warrant during last hearing

Alex Watts : ok.
Alex Watts : You can't evict them without a further possession order.
Alex Watts : But try the pro bono unit.

what propositions I could make to them?

Alex Watts : What would be a reasonable proposal for you?
Alex Watts : It's a commercial decision.
Alex Watts : It may be cheaper to give them a sum to go than fight it.

I already offered to make a new tenancy which would start from the date on their agreement, on rent they have 1600 per month, duration 6 month as they had break clause. but I know they are not financially viable, they claim total income on witness statement 1580


but they never been properly refereenced and I never wanted to accept social housing tenant, they dont' have a guarantor


also I proposed as second option to let them to live in the property till end of this month for free and leave peacefully, as they didn't pay anything for 3 month, I though it was very generouse offer, but they just love the house and want to stay there for as long as possible

Alex Watts : Yes of course.
Alex Watts : Sadly only you can make the decision.
Alex Watts : But they are likely to be required to move at the next hearing.
Alex Watts : But it's just a matter of time.

I received answer from their legal support to make more attractive offer.

Alex Watts : Their legal people would say that.
Alex Watts : But they are likely to be asked to leave at the next hearing.

I lost the trust into the justice unfortunately

Alex Watts : Yes I ammsorry

can somebody really push me to accept them on existing fake contract?

Alex Watts : No
Alex Watts : Thats why I think they will be out at the next hearing.
Alex Watts : But it's a matter of time
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything for you today?

what my steps should be against fraudster MRM and how can I claim damages against him? current losses are greater than 13K

Alex Watts : You would need to pursue him personally.
Alex Watts : For any losses.

this is exactly what I plan. but how? which court? all other victims sued his companies, got CCJ against his businesses but got nothing in the end as he dissolved all companies. in my case his business never been registered as a company, so assume he is an individual trader, therefore want to bring him to the court in person. but he is a career minded criminal and got away with his dealings for years

Alex Watts : you need to report this to the police.
Alex Watts : Once there is a fraud conviction you can sue personally.

all been done, police do nothing, reported to Action fraud in Feb, they have hundreds of crime reports against him, I was told by met police he is one of the most wanted man in the uk, national fraud intelligence bur passed 9 enforcment opps to arrest him, but his arrest was stopped at last minute... this is very complex etc.. we have our MPs involved and nothing happening in this investigation and this man set up a new business. there was a programme on BBC about his dealings, no feedback or interest to bring this man to justice. every day we getting emails from new victims

Alex Watts : You can pursue personally but you need to ask the court to pierce the corporate veil.
Alex Watts : You can do this if you sue both the CMOS y
Alex Watts : sue both the company and the individual.
Alex Watts : Does this help?

thank you!

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