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Jeremy Aldermartin
Jeremy Aldermartin, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 6331
Experience:  Dual qualified Solicitor and Attorney
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My partner and I have been put in a stressful situation

Customer Question

Hello,My partner and I have been put in a stressful situation regarding our housing, any legal advice we could be given would be appreciated.We are renting a room each in the same house from a private landlord. We never received a viewing or saw the landlord in person but knew previous tenants so had been round the house before. Before moving in I was given the impression that we would be sharing the house with two other tenants, both of which are friends of ours and one of whom is the landlord's daughter. We moved in a day early with the landlord's permission (over the phone). Two contracts were couriered to us by the landlord's daughter, which we read, signed, and gave back to be brought to the landlord. We paid our deposits and a month of rent. For two and a half months we have lived here and paid rent each month. During this time there were a couple of cold moments between me and the landlord's daughter when I requested that she be more tidy, and give us more space, as having lived there for three years, she had claimed about five times as much storage space in the communal areas as my partner and I had put together. However, they were nothing more, and we are still friendly.A few days ago the landlord came to the house, seeing us for the first time, bearing new amended contracts, and documentation for our newly insured deposits (two and a half months after we gave them to her), citing having had a broken right wrist as the reason for the lateness. This was the first we had heard about new contracts. Talking to the previous tenants of the house, their deposit was never protected, and they were unfairly given back barely a sliver of it when they left. Her insuring our deposits was likely a response to the previous tenants threatening legal action. The next day I had another somewhat cold, but civil, moment with the landlord's daughter.The day after, I received a phone call from the landlord. Despite my better instincts she baited me into expressing my small grievances with her daughter. She then talked at me for a very long time, and I will spare you the great many unimportant details. Essentially I was told my complaints were invalid, that her daughter had invested in the house and shares ownership of it, and that if I didn't play nice I would be evicted, which she said she could achieve as we don't yet have a signed contract. She told me that if there is going to be tension, I should move out. She said she would give me time to move out if I decided to and told me to think about it. She didn't mention my partner except to express her annoyance that she didn't know that we were together, and to claim, she wouldn't have wanted a couple living here. Her daughter did know that we were together and had been the courier of all other information between the landlord and us.I don't trust that the landlord will act in our interest or do anything she promises. My partner and I are treating this as an opportunity to escape this unprofessionalism and toxicity and have been looking into other housing options. I haven't had communication with the landlord, or her daughter since, and would like advice as to what I should, and shouldn't, say. I do not want to be locked into a contract, as we want to move out as soon as we can. We also do not want to be evicted before we are ready. It worries me that she has a pair of contracts signed by us and not by her sitting there like an open cheque; maybe when we try to leave she will sign them and chase us for rent after we have moved out. Perhaps the first contract is legally binding despite her not signing it as it is what we agreed to when we paid rent and our deposit.Thank you for reading.
I hope to hear from you soon,
George Jeffery.
Submitted: 10 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joy Nicholas replied 10 days ago.
Hi, thank you for your message. Can I confirm have you spoken to anyone else about this matter?
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
I’ve emailed my university advice centre, and my mother. Otherwise no.
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
I attached the first contract we were given to the message above as a pdf.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
I’ve attached images of the second contract we were given in this message.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
File attached (1125Z3L)
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
File attached (Z726344)
Expert:  Joy Nicholas replied 9 days ago.
hi, thank you for your message. I will need to opt out for another expert to help with this question
Expert:  AlinaK-admin replied 9 days ago.
Hello,
It seems the professional has left this conversation. This happens occasionally, and it's usually because the professional thinks that someone else might be a better match for your question. I've been working hard to find a new professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right professional can take a little longer than expected.
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Customer: replied 9 days ago.
I would like to keep waiting for advice, thank you.
Expert:  ReadyLaw replied 8 days ago.

Good day your question has been forwarded to me to see if I may be able to assist.

Expert:  ReadyLaw replied 8 days ago.

Good day your question has been forwarded to me to see if I may be able to assist

Expert:  ReadyLaw replied 8 days ago.

Thanks for your patience. The first contract would be legally binding. However, if you signed agreeing to amend or be bound by the second contact, you would be bound by the new terms. In order for you to be able to leave early you need to check the lease agreement to see whether specific provision is made for you to leave early. If you have a fixed-term agreement, you can only leave early if: there's a term in your agreement, known as a break clause, which allows you to end the agreement early. So, you must check if there is a break clause. Without this, it is very much likely that the landlord would pusue for unpaid rent for the remainder of the fixed period.

Hope this helps. Kindly let me know if I may further assist.

All the best

RL

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Hi, thanks for your reply. There is no break clause in the first agreement. We don’t intend to sign the second agreement as I think a good portion of the second agreement is just there to cover some unprofessionalism and problems with the first agreement. For instance she insured our deposit 2.5 months late, and has never shown us an energy certificate, or any other documents we are meant to be shown.
Customer: replied 8 days ago.
She wants us to leave, so there is a chance she will be accommodating, but I don’t trust her so I would want it in writing that upon moving out we won’t be charged any further, fees, levys, or rent, our security deposit will be returned in full, and for her to sign it. I was wandering if because of her unprofessionalism would be grounds for us to be able to leave without being perused for fees or rent without such an agreement if she refuses to sign one.
Customer: replied 8 days ago.
The first agreement claims that it is not for an assured shorthold tenancy but is a “house share”. What does this mean and is it legal? From what I can tell in every other respect it is a contract for an AST.
Expert:  ReadyLaw replied 7 days ago.

it seems that your agreement reflects that you are a lodger. So, this means, that they can ask you to leave by simply giving you the notice period that corresponds with how often you pay rent. So, if you pay rent every four weeks then she would only be required to give you four weeks notice. It is legal for her to say house share/lodger. it is not unreasonable for you to ask for her to put in writing that she would not ask you for any further payments from you.

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
If we are lodgers, which others have suggested is impossible with this sort of contract, are we bound to pay a full years rent by the contract? Is she able to charge us the levy mentioned in the contract for finding new contracts if we leave?Most importantly, are you sure we are lodgers? I was told that it looks like an AST contract and you cannot just write “this is not an ast” on top of an ast contract.
Expert:  ReadyLaw replied 7 days ago.

If you are living in a shared accomodation with the landlord it is most likely a lodger. What you are required to pay depends on the terms of the contract. If you are being asked to leave you would not be legally required to pay the rent for the year.

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
We are not living with the landlord. We are living with the landlords daughter, I do not know if she is on the deed for the house, but we have never been told that she is and she is not the landlord on our contract.
Expert:  ReadyLaw replied 7 days ago.

My guidance to you still stands.

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
you think we are lodgers even though we are not living with the landlord?
Expert:  ReadyLaw replied 7 days ago.

What exactly is your concern?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Given our contract and situation I want to know our rights, where the landlord is in the wrong, what are her rights? If we are lodgers, which seems to be an important contingency so I want you to be certain of it, what fees, levies, and rent can we be charged after moving out? The contract says that she can charge us a levy, keep our deposit, and charge us rent. Is that legal?Could you give me a straight answer here, no offence is meant by the question, are you learned in the law surrounding housing?
Expert:  ReadyLaw replied 7 days ago.

The difficulty I am having is that you are asking questions without reading the response I am giving you. Perhaps it is because it is not the answers you are looking for. And so, you ask the same question in several different ways. I believe I have answered you extensively.

1. The child is residing their as an owner. You are living in a shared accommodation with the landlord. It makes you a lodger.

2. A lodger can be given notice to leave the premises. The notice period is determined by either the contract or if the contract is silent, the time within which you would normally pay rent.

3. If you leave before your contracted period ends then you can be required to pay rent for the contract period. If however you are properly given notice to leave then you are not liable to pay any further rent when you leave the property.

4. I am not sure what a levy is. you will have to check your contract to see or ask the landlord what they are referring to.

5. You can be charged for any damages done to property.

6. No a landlord cannot simply keep your deposit.

7. I would imagine I have some expertise, I have been practicing as a lawyer for 9 years in this area.

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Thank you for your answer. My worry is that perhaps you haven’t read the contract, which I feel is necessary considering it mentions a £450 levy (I believe this to mean fee but am relying on you for accurate legal interpretation) for leaving before the contract expires, states that she can keep my deposit to pay for unpaid rent, and despite saying that the contract is not an AST describes it as a house share, and our contract as a tenancy, and calls us tenants, not lodgers. The landlord on the contract does not live in the same house as us. I think there is a good chance the daughter has no legal documentation or contract saying that she owns the house or lives in it, although I’m sure the landlord would lie about this, or create it after the fact. Furthermore I was hoping that you would let me know that you have taken into consideration that we have not been shown any energy certificate or other information, and our deposit was insured more than 30 days late. If after reading this and the contract you are still sure that in a court we would be considered lodgers, please let me know.
Expert:  ReadyLaw replied 7 days ago.

I think I will need to opt out for another expert to help with this question.

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
I suppose my most important question is given the contract (the first one in pdf format) are we lodgers? Can you enter an agreement as lodgers without being told you are living with an owner of the house, only that I would be living with the landlords daughter? If we are lodgers can we be evicted given notice considering late insurance of the deposit and not being given the information landlords are required to give their tenants?
Expert:  Jeremy Aldermartin replied 6 days ago.
Hi George In essence, you need to get her to put in writhing she agreed to let you leave and that she has no legally valid agreement from you. Then you can leave without issues. In terms of the deposit she should have protected this within 30 days which she failed to do and you can get up to 3 times the deposit amount for that Breach alone.
Customer: replied 6 days ago.
Thanks for your reply. I’m only worried that if we are lodgers and she doesn’t sign this she might be able to evict us despite her poor behaviour. And she might even try to evict just me leaving my partner still liable for the rent (we want to live together). I was under the impression that despite what the agreement says, if we are lodgers we can give a months notice for us to leave just as she can give a months notice before eviction. However I’d need to know if, given the contract, this would leave us safe from fees and rent and she wouldn’t take our security deposit.But importantly, I need to know IF we are lodgers, which seems impossible given the contract. But, if you tell me that you have fully considered the contents of the contract and her short comings in her duty as a landlord, and still think we are lodgers, we will try to prepare for the eventualities which that could cause.Thanks,
George.
Expert:  Jeremy Aldermartin replied 6 days ago.
No I don’t consider you are lodgers your are tenants you just have individual room agreements.
Expert:  Jeremy Aldermartin replied 6 days ago.
But they haven’t been signed by her yet so aren’t legally valid. So you could look to move before she signs and inform her you no longer agree to rent and move out. That way it’s in writing when you withdrew your agreement to the tenancy so she can’t just sign later.
Customer: replied 6 days ago.
Thanks for your response. Well this is new, because those I have asked before have said that the first contract is legally binding because that is the contract we paid our deposits and rent in agreement with, and she accepted those deposits and rent. We only learned 2.5 months later that she had not signed the contracts. But perhaps if we chose to, given the fact she is now telling me that she has not signed them we could revoke our agreement.
Expert:  Jeremy Aldermartin replied 6 days ago.

Yes exactly, you might have a periodic tenancy which is likely what you were told about before which is essentially a month to month tenancy (assuming you pay rent monthly) and then you would need to give a months notice and vice versa.

Customer: replied 6 days ago.
Do you think that if we gave a months notice to move out we would be liable for any further rent or any of the fees mentioned in the contract? Or do we need to get it in writing that we wouldn’t be liable for any such payments?
Expert:  Jeremy Aldermartin replied 6 days ago.

I suggest you get it in writing my concern would be she could sign it and just put a date before you leave and then claim she signed it previously.