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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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I have been a tenant in the property last 4 years.

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I have been a tenant in the property for the last 4 years. We usually have 6 months contracts. the last contract finished at the end of January and we supposed to received one which we haven't. If we received one we would have informed our agency that we were not extend it after July 2015 as each of the circumstances have changed. There are 4 tenants in our house. 2 of us are moving out of UK and one out of London. The forth went travelling in March and that is were all the troubles started. We knew he was going to travel and were going to rent his room for few months to cover the rent. March was his last month and he was acting weirdly so we called the agency to check whether he did not plan to run away. After they realised he did not pay his rent for March decided to give us all notice from the property to move out in 3 weeks. We fought our way back and they gave us 2 months (they are counting time from the date on the letter) we received the letter on the 30th of March so we have to move out by 30 of May. The forth tenant who did not pay his rent for March received his deposit back and it was used to cover for his room. So they basically already gave him the deposit and we did not know they had that agreement. However all the letters they sent us with the notice are still addressed to that forth tenant. They send us cheques for our part of the deposits but at that time the notice they have written was not legally valid and we did not accept it. They did not secure our deposits with the Government scheme. We want to negotiate to stay in the property to the end of our contract that we should have received which is end of July 2015 as there is no point to go and look for another room just for few months. We did not get the agreement to rent this empty forth room out but we dont want to pay for it. The agency is not working great, they did not do any inventory since I moved in there which is 4 years, they do not reply to the emails for months, even now we tried to set up the appointment and it took us 5 attempts including personal visit to do that and at the end we had to scare them to complain to the property ombudsmen only to be able to get an appointment with them. My question is: can they make us responsible for paying for the empty room if we stay till the end of July?

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
When is your billing date for rent please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It is probably at 1st of each month.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

i just checked the contract it is the first day of each month.

so if we pay for May it should be on their account on the 1st of May

What was the date of their notice letter?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

it is 30th of March. and they are asking us to be out by 30th of May

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We have a joint contract signed by 4 of us. We pay rent separately directly to their account.

Ok. Well they can not take any step until they protect the deposit. If they have not protected the deposit then sadly any notice is invalid.
They are entitled to ask you to leave with 2 months notice but any notice posted is deemed served 2 working days after it was posted.
Therefore notice is effected on you upon receipt. So firstly the notice is invalid because the deposit has not been protected. Second they need to give you 2 months notice from the date of service of the notice. This means you need to receive it before the 30th of the month in order for it to take effect from that month.
If you get it later, ie 2nd of the month then notice takes effect from the 30th of that month you receive it so in effect its 2 months notice and / weeks.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

How about the empty room. We keep paying our rent as we used to directly to their account however the person who left that room and to whom they gave already deposit back is away. No one lives in that room. we have joint contract signed by 4 people that expired on 31 of January 2015 (6 months).

Can they ask us to pay for that empty room?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

forgotten to say thank you

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

also the notice was delivered to the door by hand that same day so we received it exactly on 30th of May - does that influence your answer

They can't ask for payment to empty door.
If it was hand delivered it would be valid if and only if the deposit was protected.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

even if we have a joint contract, right?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

there is a note on the deposit scheme that the agency can ask us to leave if they pay us back the whole deposit. if they send us the cheques which we did not cash as we did not agree with their 3 weeks notice in March can they ask us to leave ?

Correct. The deposit must be protected.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Just wandering what is the best course of action for us now. Shall we reply to their last notice ? Or shall we wait ? They emailed us that they want to take us to the eviction court if we don't leave the property by 30th of May
You should reply and say it is invalid.
Even if you do get a Court summons it will take another 28 days to get a court hearing.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry for so many simple question just want to make sure I understand the answer.
If we write the reply Do we need to write why it is invalid?
And I am still confused with the deposit scheme. I found on the website that in case when the landlord did not protected the deposit we can still get notice under the 21st section if the landlord gave us deposit back in full. They sent 3 of us cheques for the amount of the deposit in March, however before that it turned out that the 4th tenant who left in march didn't get the cheque as they used his deposit for his March rent which we did not know about. Of course we didn't cash those cheques and also when they sent them the notice they gave us was not valid.
Providing they could use section 21 if they delivered us the letter on 30th of March from which day we should count 2 month period ?
1) Because they have failed to protect the deposit.
They cant take ANY step unless the tenant has protected it.
They can use section 21 notice from March if it was hand delivered before 4pm
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So the fact that they sent us cheques with the amount of the deposit does not matter? And it should not be counted as the return of the deposit and the ground for sending us notice ?
No. They did NOT protect the deposit and therefore NOT able to take any step.
Even if they were, if you dont move out by the due date then they have to issue proceedings. You are looking at 4-6 weeks before you even get a Court date.
Even after that it would be another 4-6 weeks beyond that for any eviction. This give you the time you want.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
If we move out before the court hearing, do we still need to attend the hearing?
Can they apply for the bailiff to ask us to pay for the room that is not occupied since April?
No. If you move out before the hearing you don't need to attend.
No they can't ask you to pay for a room which is empty.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I asked my house mate about the delivery of their last notice. The letter was delivered by someone from the agency - states delivered by hand on the envelop. It was delivered on 30th of March after 4pm. She works till 4pm and gets home usually around 5pm and letters were put through the letter box when she was at home, so they were definitely delivered after 4pm.

Is there any way we can ask them to show us what time they delivered the letters?

After 4pm takes effect next working day. You can ask them what time yes.
Please do remember to take a moment and rate my service so far.
Thanks. Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you so much it is just so hard to understand well the procedures. So if it is valid from the next working day 31st of March what is the date to count from the 2 months notice?

of course will rate right now, but that will end my conversation right?

If you had it on 31st then it takes effect from 30 th April and you have to be out by 30 th June.
Ash and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
I am just following up to see if there is anything else I can help with?
If this answers your question might I ask you to rate my answer before you go today please, the button should be at the bottom of the screen.
If you need more help please click reply.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi, Thank you for checking in. I am devastated really as after chatting with you I started reading everything I could find about 21st section and found out that the law has changed at the end of March. And if the landlord pays back the deposit fully (and apparently cheques are reliable form of paying back money) then they are entitled to use section 21 notice. Also in terms of periodical contracts (what we are in) it does not matter when the contract is finished but when the letter is send now, so if they sent us a letter on the 30th of March they can ask us to leave on 30th of may.
The only thing we have now is to go to the court to ask for the compensations for not paying the deposit and blackmail the agency - which is very low. So yes only bad news.
Yes sadly the law changed. You are entitled to x3 compensation.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
How comes then you gave me wrong informations ? And I rated your service as excellent . I asked you about those changes and you told me they cannot use cheques as a return deposit. I am glad I didn't follow your advice as I would end up in the court. Really disappointed with this service where the information passed are not legally valid. I am sure to write an appropriate review. It is a service only to take money. Lesson learnt - what to expect from online legal service? Nothing! So disappointed.