Please see previous order number 15453570-427 for the background to this enquiry
You may recall that my partner’s daughter (Selena) had entered into a house sharing agreement with 3 other students (Megs, Sophie and Eoufi) and prior to signing the agreement the issue of which student would occupy which room was verbally agreed. As a result of this agreement, my partner along with the other parents acted as guarantors, each being responsible for future rental payments for all students and for any damage caused by any of the students.
The background to the 4 girls agreeing to house share was based on them having known each other for a year, socialising together, partying together and communicating with each other throughout that year as friends. They had talked enthusiastically about cooking together in their new home and enjoying those home cooked meals together.
After signing the contract with the landlord, the 3 other girls, who are all medical students (Selena isn’t a medical student, reneged on the verbal agreement and insisted on drawing straws to see who had which room. They were not prepared to draw straws before the agreement was signed with the landlord. We were unhappy about doing so post contract as Selena had only agreed to share on the basis that the room they had verbally agreed she would have, (the downstairs room) would indeed be occupied by her. Unfortunately, the bullying tactics of the 3 girls and their parents was such that Selena eventually agreed to draw straws in the hope that life would get back to normality if she succumbed to their pressure.
When the straws were drawn, Eoufi who was the main influence behind the enforced changes, ended up with the room she had originally said she didn’t want, which was coincidently the downstairs room which Selena did want. Somewhat bizarrely, Selena ended up with the room that Eoufi had originally agreed to take! Consequently, Selena offered to swap, but Eoufi had obviously dug a hole for herself and could not, at that stage, back down.
Since then, the atmosphere in the house has substantially deteriorated with Selena being ostracised by all three girls and excluded at every turn. There have been petty practical jokes and attempts to enforce other changes for example that Selena should not wash her hair in the morning and changing agreed housekeeping rota’s.
The other 3 girls have local boyfriends who continuously visit and who do not acknowledge Selena at all even to the point where they would take up a space around the dining table and not allow Selena to enjoy her meal at the table as there is no space for her. They have moved her food around in the fridge despite Selena’s specific instructions to them not to touch her stuff.
Selena’s room does not have a wardrobe and her clothes have to be kept outside her room in an unlocked cupboard that has to be accessed by the other girls in order to turn on the shower in the bathroom. She naturally fears that her belongings will be tampered with.
When my partner entered into the agreement to act as a guarantor for these girls, it was with the expectation and belief that there would be a harmonious exciting home which all of the girls would enjoy and that they would continue to enjoy each other’s company without friction. It was also on the understanding that Selena would be living in the room she had entered into an amicable verbal agreement to have.
The situation is now untenable as a direct result of the change in behaviour of the girls and consequent and understandable breakdown of her trust in them. When signing as a guarantor, it was on the basis that the relationship they had enjoyed over the past year would prevail and their conduct and behaviour was implicit to signing that contract. They are after all medical students and one would expect a high standard of ethics from them.
My partner is tied into the contract with the landlord but is now of the opinion that Selena needs to move out. The other girls behaviour is affecting her health and her ability to concentrate on her studies. She will not pay any further rent or utility bills. Were she to take this action it would leave the other parents in the position of having to cover Selena’s share of the rent as guarantors. They would then presumably have to take court action to recover their increased outlay from my partner.
My question is therefore, is there a good defence against them winning the court hearing on the basis that it is they who have contrived to engineer this outcome?