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Ask Jeremy Aldermartin Your Own Question
Jeremy Aldermartin
Jeremy Aldermartin, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 1406
Experience:  Dual qualified Solicitor and Attorney
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I booked a private student accommodation online. The

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Hi, I booked a private student accommodation online. The contract has the room number as part of it so I signed for a particular room. Once we got there they told us that the room I booked has a broken window so they are giving me another room. That room was extremely dirty, it had dust everywhere, red stains on the floor, hair in the shower, weird blue substance on the walls, etc.. I don't want to live there anymore and they won't release me from the contract even though there is a clause that states if they move me to another room I'm allowed to terminate the contract without penalty.
I want to know if this is worth getting a solicitor in order to release me from the contract, I am not living in the room. We took pictures of everything as proof. I want to know if this is worth taking to the small claims court, and if I have ew reasonable grounds
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: London
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: I have tried contacting the company multiple times over a course of 13 days to dispute this but they will not release me out of the contract on the basis of clause 7.10 but I believe we do based on clause 7.9
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: 7.10. The Landlord reserves the right to provide to the Tenant alternative accommodation in the event that the Accommodation is unavailable for the Tenant at the start
of the Tenancy Period provided always that the Tenant shall have the right to terminate the Tenancy Agreement (without having to comply with the conditions in clause
7.8) should the Accommodation not be available for a period of more than 4 weeks after the start of the Tenancy Period.
7.9. The Landlord reserves the right to relocate the Tenant to comparable alternative accommodation during the Tenancy Period where it is reasonable to do so but,
unless the relocation is at the Tenant's request or because the Tenant is in serious or persistent breach of one or more of their obligations in the Tenancy Agreement, the
Tenant will have the right to terminate the Tenancy Agreement (without having to comply with the conditions in clause 7.8) as an alternative to relocating. If the relocation
is at the Tenant's request or because the Tenant is in serious or persistent breach of one or more of their obligations in the Tenancy Agreement, the Landlord shall be
entitled to charge the Tenant a £50 administration fee for dealing with the transfer. If the Tenant, at their own request, transfers to more expensive accommodation they
and their Guarantor shall be liable to pay the higher rent from the date the Tenant is given access to the more expensive accommodation.

Hi thank you for your message and posting the clauses, does 7.8 refers to the obligation to pay rent? Looking at 7.9, as you indicate this gives you an opt out unless you requested the relocation which I understand you did not. You mentioned the small claims have you paid money under the contract already?

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Thanks for your response. Here is clause 7.8. If the Tenant wishes to cancel their Tenancy Agreement after the Initial Cancellation Period, or after the tenancy has started, the Tenant will be liable for the Rent
and any applicable Fees for the full Tenancy Period or, if shorter, for the period until a replacement tenant takes over responsibility for payment (replacement tenant is to
have paid both deposit and rent payment before termination of tenancy is confirmed). If a replacement tenant is found, the Tenant will be liable for the Landlord's
administration charges of £50.00 for dealing with the changeover, payable within 7 days of invoice or by using the Deposit. On payment of the administration fee and
commencement of the new tenancy, the Landlord will release the Tenant from their Tenancy Agreement.
Customer: replied 27 days ago.
I did not ask for the relocation of the room, and I have already paid a deposit of 250 as well as the first payment of rent of 6,324
Customer: replied 27 days ago.
I have attached the contract for your convenience.
Customer: replied 27 days ago.
They are using clause 7.8 against me, they have refused to refund me until someone else occupies the room.

Hi thank you for your message, they cannot use 7.8 because as you state it is overridden by 7.9. With that being the case, you can cancel the agreement. If as you say they refuse to pay you then you can take them to small claims for the money and this is a relatively quick process. To do this, I would recommend that you send them a letter before action to demand payment of the money within 14 days and say that if they do not pay you, you will issue county court proceedings against them.
You will need to register at http://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk so that you are ready to issue the claim in the event they dispute the claim and do not pay you. The website is very user-friendly and you would not need a lawyer to use the money claim site. Claims with a value of under £10,000 are classed as a "small claim", so legal costs are not recoverable and the matter may be dealt with on paper by a Judge, not at a hearing. A hearing may be necessary if the court thinks that oral evidence is required to dispose of the case.
Claims between £10,000 and £25,000 are subject to fixed costs only so if you lose then the risk is minimal. Further, the money claim website allows you to sue for an amount up to £100,000.
You would claim the sum for the loss, the court issue fee (details of fees are here at page 5: http://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/court-fees) and court interest which is 8% calculated on a daily rate from the date of loss (ie the date you first requested the refund) to date of court judgment. The site allows you to calculate the interest and add it to the claim.
If you are on a low income or have low savings (or in receipt of benefits), you can ask the court for a fee remission so you do not have to pay the court issue fee, as a student you should be eligible for this.
If you win then once you have the CCJ from the court the defendant has 14 days to pay in full. If they do not then it gets registered with the credit agencies after 30 days. You can also enforce the CCJ with the county court bailiffs or transfer the debt to the High Court for a small additional fee assuming the total amount owed is at least £600 and you can use the high court enforcement officers who have greater powers than county court bailiffs. The transfer fee is added on to the debt and payable by the defendant.
I hope this helps, if you can please accept my answer and rate me 5 stars (in the top right of your screen) then Just Answer will credit me for helping you today.

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Thank you for your reply. I just want to be clear, because they are referencing clause 7.10 as grounds for preventing the contract being terminated and witholding the funds. I want to understand which would take precedence, 7.9 or 7.10?

Hi thank you for your message, it does not matter if 7.10 applies because as it states 7.10 i.e. the right of the landlord to provide alternative accommodation is subject "always that the Tenant shall have the right to terminate the Tenancy Agreement (without having to comply with the conditions in clause 7.8)". Therefore even if 7.10 applies this is subject to you being able to terminate the tenancy and not pay the rent/fees set out in 7.8 anyway. I hope this helps, if you can please accept my answer and rate me 5 stars (in the top right of your screen) then Just Answer will credit me for helping you today.

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Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Thank you for your help, I will now rate you 5 star for your service.