How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • Go back-and-forth until satisfied
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask JimLawyer Your Own Question
JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 15443
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
97337639
Type Your Law Question Here...
JimLawyer is online now

There was a company in Londonthat was doing a rent to

This answer was rated:

There was a company in Londonthat was doing a rent to serviced accommodations before lockdown - so I’ve paid them the sourcing fee + management fee etc before lockdown began - then after lockdown, they gave me “ credit “ but not a refund , which is valid for 24 months - I want to get a refund now (it’s been like 16 months ) - now they’re not responding me. What can I do in that case to get my money back? Which kind of solicitor do I need to contact?
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: England
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Just tried to contact the company by myself
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: No
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
If it helps I'll be attaching the screenshot of whatsapp history with one of those people working there - as well as email history.
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Continuation of whatsapp chat history;
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
I can forward you all the mail history as well - if required.
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call.
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.

Hello, this is Jim and welcome to JustAnswer.

Thank you for the question, I am reviewing the details now and I will aim to resolve it as quickly as possible for you.

They are unlikely to have it written in their terms and conditions that you are only due a credit note - the fact is, they were unable to provide their service due to lockdown. That means they are in breach of contract and you are due a refund from them.

In order to try and resolve the dispute without having to pursue court action, a formal letter before action should be drafted and sent, to demand payment within 14 days and say that if they do not pay you, you will issue county court proceedings against them.

See attached template as an example of what to say. Please let me know if you cannot see the letter which I have uploaded. You will need to tailor this letter to your situation. The pre action protocol confirms you should send the letter to give the other party a chance to avoid court action and to pay you. The courts encourage compliance with the protocol as it can result in a resolution without having to involve the court.

You may also want to threaten a report to Trading Standards (who can be contacted via this site: Contacts).

If you decided to issue a claim, you would then need to register at https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome 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 generally not recoverable and the matter may be dealt with on paper by a Judge, not at a hearing. This means the parties are on an equal footing, so you don’t need to worry about legal costs if you lost.

A hearing may be necessary if the court thinks that oral evidence is required to dispose of the case.
Here is a user guide for the money claim online site: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1020660/mcol-userguide-eng.pdf

The court will then issue the claim and they will send you "notice of issue". The papers are served on the defendant who then has 14 days to acknowledge the claim - they do this by filling out an acknowledgment of service and they post it to the court. They indicate their intention when they do this, i.e. whether they admit the claim in full or partly, or if they deny the claim. If they want to defend the claim then their defence is due by 28 days from the date the court served them with the papers. The central court processing centre then sends the claim to the defendant's home county court for case management and directions - the directions will give a list of dates which you both must comply with.

If there is no settlement then the claim will be dealt with at a final hearing which takes anything from 9 to 12 months from when you start the claim - longer if the claim is higher value. You can pursue the claim yourself or use a law firm. For the hearing you can use an advocate if you wish, though it's not compulsory. I have details of law firms and advocacy agencies if you would like those. Though in a small claim you won't be able to recover their charges from your opponent. A small claims hearing is easy to do, it's quite informal and no lawyer is required.

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 the money claim fees are listed here at page 5: EX50 - Civil and Family Court fees) and court interest which is 8% calculated on a daily rate from the date of loss to date of court judgment.

So for example if you were owed £10,000, interest would be £2.20 per day, which you can also claim.

The site allows you to calculate the interest and add it to the claim. If a hearing is required then there is a fee for this too - see page 7 of the previous link for details. Again, that fee is recoverable if you win.

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.

There are other enforcement methods which I can help with, including bank account freeze, charging order on their property (and then apply to force a sale), application to wind up the company if £750 or more is owed (if suing a limited company), apply to summons them to court for questioning, all of which can ensure you are actually repaid the money.

You may find they just pay you after receiving the letter before action – hopefully they will want to avoid litigation.

You would need a lawyer for a claim of this nature - you can of course instruct one though in a claim under £10,000 in value, if you win then you can't recover your lawyer's legal fees.

I can give you details of suitable law firms if that helps.

I hope this answers the question. If you have any follow up questions then please do let me know.

Many thanks,
Jim

Just a final note that I am free most days and would be happy to assist with any other queries you may have.

Best wishes,

Jim

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Hello Jim thanks a lot for your helpful message.
I think they should be able to refund me the whole cost, but as a lawyer you will probably understand the contract much better than I do and you can judge it much better, so if you can , I would like you to take a look to the contract I have with that company. Especially under Terms & Conditions number 15; Right to Cancel,I'll attach both a screenshot of that section, as well as the whole contract. Please advise me if I still should continue with issuing them the claim letter you sent me above ( also would it be possible to send this thing as an e-mail if I need to be overseas for a while in coming days ? )Thanks in advance
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Also please find the oder form ( the contract/agreement) attached

Hi, thanks - please note that a document review is a premium service and charged extra over and above the basic Q&A chat. I will send the premium service offer

JimLawyer and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Hello Jim, thanks a lot - as I think this is essential for me - I've accepted your offer above.

OK, thanks - I will review now and will be back shortly....

I have looked at the messages - to be fair I do not think what you said came across as threatening them - everyone is entitled to legal advice and they have your money - they have profited from the pandemic by keeping your money. It is supposed to be a two-sided contract - you pay them and they offer a service. Except they were unable to meet their contractual obligations due to the lockdown situation, which is not your fault and not theirs but they should pay you back.

Next, the contract and the right to cancel - paragraph 15. Note this clause would be valid had the pandemic not been an issue. I have also looked at the contract to check whether they have a "force majeure" clause, which covers external events outside if your control.
Paragraph 8 of the terms is the relevant section here - you will not there is no reference to an "outbreak", or "infectious disease" or indeed Covid-19. They will say that the clause covers everything - so is a general clause and they will say that Covid is an event beyond their control - but it is not specially written in to this contract.
A force majeure clause allows them to "pause" the contract for a reasonable period of time, due to an event - it has to be a reasonable period of time, not excessive, such as 12 months. If it is excessive the court will probably say the contract is unfair as it benefits the company and not you.
I would say that the lack of a defined term for Covid does not help them in this situation. If you sued them, the court would need to look at the terms and conditions and construe them accordingly. It could go either way but we then get to the fact they are offering you a credit - valid for 2 years. I cannot see where in the contract it gives them the facility to offer credit - there is no such facility so my view is that are not complying with the contract in that sense.
It would be a small claim - my view is you use the letter I attached, send it to them and give them 14 days to refund you. If they do not refund you then issue a claim - legal costs are generally not recoverable so if they used a solicitor to defend the claim, you would not be liable to pay those costs if you lose. You would lose the court issue fee and the hearing fee but that's it.
I hope this helps?

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Thanks a lot Jim. Just to clarify before we wrap things up;
Would it be okay if I edit and print out the letter you've sent/ sign it / scan it and send them that as an e-mail, including all the email addresses of the people I've been in touch with from their company, would that be sufficient? Or would you suggest that I send that letter as a post as well?It was very helpful , thank you very much once again.

Hi there, I generally do both only because it's a legal letter and they could argue they never received it if it was only done by email - the pre action protocol mentions a letter so I would recommend both just to cover yourself.

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Thank you Jim, just in case, if I need to stay in touch with you later on - will I be able to reach out to you over this platform?

Yes, absolutely no problem at all - if you want to make new questions and would like me to deal, just mark them "FAO:JIM" and I will pick them up for you.

I meant to add - I would be happy to review your draft letter just to make sure it's correct - no extra charge.
Thanks

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Thanks Jim , I will send you after I create my draft - very generous of you

No problem, the letter could help avoid court action so it's worth making sure it's a good one

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Hi Jim again,I've just changed the places in your reference letter that says (put x here) so it might not be great.Please have a look and let me know what I should change/edit

Thanks, ***** ***** fine - I would add in another paragraph after the 3rd one to say something like this:

The terms and conditions make no reference to Covid-19, an infection disease, or an outbreak. Nor do your terms give you the facility to offer credit (for two years), as opposed to a refund. My view is that to keep my money when you were unable to comply with your side of the contract, means you are in effect profiting from a pandemic and that the court would consider your conduct to fall short of what would be reasonable given the circumstances.

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Good morning Jim, Before I was sending out the email,
I've just found the following email last year in 2020 September again when I've asked them for a refund, they sent me the following mail, I'll be attaching a screenshot of what they sent here.I'll also copy paste the whole mail;Dear Okyanus Atlas,Your email has been forwarded to us with regards ***** ***** cancelling completing with the property deal in South Bank for which had already been ordered and confirmed.Please note that you have made a request to cancel the completion of the property deal and you have also requested for the sourcing fee to be refunded.Please note that we have already acknowledged this with you and the Landlord's agent who has already been informed that this property deal would no longer be going ahead.Please note that we are legally obliged; as you are too, to follow the terms and conditions that are set out in the Order Form that you have agreed to before filling in, signing and returning it to us.Please note that you indeed did have a right to cancel the agreement within 14 days; however you opted for our services to commence immediately; therefore, this means that the sourcing fee that you have already paid, is most certainly non-refundable, as described and set out in the terms and conditions for which, you have already agreed to.Please note that you had opted to pull out and cancel completing on the property deal in South Bank that we had already sourced for you, on the basis that you were now planning to buy another property.In our previous correspondence to you, we have highlighted that difficulties have arisen in the UK; as well as globally, and include businesses that have been severely hit, stalled, and disrupted by the pandemic crisis.Therefore, we also acknowledge that in exceptional circumstances a credit note may be provided to you as highlighted within the terms and conditions set out in the Order Form agreement.We have discussed the 'exceptional circumstances' with upper management; whereby, we may be able to have a Credit Note authorised for you; and up to the value of £7,995 fee for which you have actually paid to us; and not, £8,900 as you have claimed with some of your correspondence with us.However, our standard policy with regards ***** ***** duration of Credit Notes would normally expire after 3 months whereby, you may be able to use these funds on account for an alternative property deal; that is similar to your original selected option.If authorised; under these 'exceptional circumstances' we may be able to extend the expiry date of the Credit note to last for 12 or 24 months; or, would you be satisfied with the duration of the Credit Note lasting 3 months only?Rather than the result or the conclusion to this matter just simply being that no refund is made to you; for which it should be in accordance with the terms and conditions that you have already agreed to and signed for, that are quite clearly set out in the Order Form agreement. It would therefore be more beneficial to you, if we are able to have the Credit Note authorised for you; and due only to these 'exceptional circumstances'.Please let us know accordingly if you would prefer to receive a Credit Note that has an expiry date of up to 12 or 24 months; or for it to remain with the duration of 3 months only?In your previous text messages with the director of the company, please note that you have already highlighted and acknowledged that "only outcomes would be either you provide me the aggreed property, or offer another similar property or send a refund".Please note that this is being offered to you; due only to these unprecedented times; and so, we appreciate that this outcome may not be aligned with your 'best case scenario', however, it is most certainly a more than fair compromise; especially, as it was in fact you who had ultimately made the decision to pull out of the South Bank property deal.We would like to thank you for your continued co-operation during these challenging times, we will beat this with a positive approach and by all working together.We look forward to once again helping you when it is viable to do so and hope you continue to stay safe and healthy.Please do let us know accordingly if you would prefer to receive a Credit Note that has an expiry date of up to 3, 12 or 24 months?Kind regards,Big Roar Management
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
To be honest, as of now - I don't want a similar property deal with this company as they're unreliable , I just want to have my refund.What should I do at this point? Just send the same letter? Or should I do some extra amendments?

Hi, thanks - if you send them the letter before action (which is required before you issue a claim at court) - given them 14 days to pay, if they do not then issue a claim for your money back via the http://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk website.

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Thanks Jim, I've sent both of their offices ( in London and in Leicestershire) the signed letter we created together as post. I will let you know if they ever come back to me.

OK, thank you - when they do if you can please post a question and mark it "FAO:JIM" and I will pick it up when I am available, thank you.

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Hello Jim, do I need to create a new question everytime? I'm sorry that I'm using this platform for the first time,So I just wanted to let you know that one of the people who work in Big Roar ( the company we were talking about ) sent me the following e-mail;Dear OkyanusI would like to acknowledge receipt of your email and I am currently preparing a response which I hope to have with you in the next 48 hours.However, I somewhat surprised and a little perplexed that a request for a refund has been submitted after all the correspondence and email trails previously.With that being said, our ultimate goal is to find a solution that has the best outcome for everyone involved. I know that our sister company who work with the SA options have already ( as per your instruction ) been finding a suitable alternative for you in order that you can exercise your agreed credit note that's in place.Once I have had time to put together a formal response to your letter before action, I would suggest we make time to have a quick chat on the phone to make sure that everything is understood and that a clear plan is in place to ensure this is resolved without the need for you to incur unnecessary legal costs going forward and deliver what we hoped before we had to put things on hold because of the Global pandemic Covid 19.Kind Regards
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
For this case, I would prefer to leave every single action I should take to your professional opinion. So I'd like to ask you if you'd suggest me to reply to this mail at all, if yes, what exactly should I text them back?

Hi, thanks - you do not need to respond to them until they reply to your letter before action.
And yes, I have answered the initial question and reviewed a document with follow up Q&A - it should not cost you any extra to post a new question so if you could do that, I would be grateful. If you can mark it "FAO:JIM" and I will pick it up.
Kind regards,
Jim

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Good morning Jim, hope you're doing well. I've received a response from this company now
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
File attached (57LPQQS)
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
File attached (6QLM411)
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
What would you suggest I should do now?
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Hello Jim, can you confirm you'll be looking into this case further? I appreciate if you're busy but I'd like to get your confirmation if you're still active