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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Alex, so first and last month's rent up front

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For Alex:
Hello Alex, so first and last month's rent up front is an acceptable practice when a tenant moves in?
Also if the tenant didn't pay her October 16th rent, then paid her November 16th rent (but 8 days late, on the 23rd November), but moved out 4 days later and her replacement isn't due to move in until January 23rd, what period in days can we chase her for rent?
I'm thinking: October 16th-November 15th period (ie the month she didn't pay her rent for, we'll just keep her last month's rent she gave to us when she moved in.
Then we'd also invoice her for the rental period starting December 16th (when the current period she paid for expires) to January 23rd when the new tenant moves in.
So that's:
1) Keep her 'deposit' to cover her October 16th rent
2) Invoice her last fees for the 7 days from her November 16th rent date and November 23rd when she actually paid her rent (we have 6% per day in our contract - is this an acceptable figure)
3) Invoice her for the rental period from December 16th to January 23rd.
Is that all correct?
Would we also invoice her for late fees at 6% per day for rent not paid from December 16th to January 23rd?
Would we just sue her for late fees from October 16th-January 23rd for her October late fees?
Then sue her as a separate amount for her late fees for her December 16th to January 16th rent
Then sue her as a third separate amount for her late fees for her January 16th rent until January 23rd when her replacement takes the bedroom?
When I first moved in my room was a complete state, including chocolate wrappers left over from the previous tenant (Carla). I have done my utmost to keep it clean, including scrubbing the floor with antibacterial wipes.
I became incredibly and inexplicably ill with a systemic virus for a month and was moved from 3 different hospitals since I have been living in*****
The freezer has not been working for about a month now which means I have not eaten in the flat for that long. I believe it is still not working.
There is an infestation of mice and has been since I have lived there.
The above two points I believe you have been made aware of for some time.
Last night I woke Michael up several times as I could not sleep due to inexplicable noises, which I thought was a mouse in my room. I checked everywhere, as did Michael. I even looked outside on the roof - as my window does not close properly it could get through at head height. Eventually I found a mouse trying to share my bed. It then ran up on to my chest of drawers amongst my toiletries and toothbrush. By the time Michael was in there it was in behind my bed and disappeared. I'm afraid I have had a complete sense of humour failure and will not be sleeping there again.
I am not normally precious about this kind of thing, having grown up in the country and cleared out a rat infestation from work last year but mice trying to share my pillow, potentially carrying deadly viruses, is a step beyond my tolerance levels.
I will be moving out at the end of the month. I think the others would very much appreciate it if you acted on this as a matter of urgency.
Best wishes,
Sent again 04/12/2015
I sent this to you both last week and have heard nothing back. I no longer have a key and given the state of the property since I have lived there – with no working wardrobes and general filth I would be grateful to get my deposit back. However, given you have both been perfectly nice as landlords I won’t take this any further. As Camilla is still living there I highly recommend that you do sort this out as the state of that flat is utterly disgraceful and I don’t think you would want authorities anywhere near it. If that flat is infested with mice, the others must be too (Tom’s included).
Please let me know when you have transferred my deposit back which was a month’s rent in advance at £593. I am requesting this because I was not given the option of giving you a month’s notice, I had to find somewhere else to sleep that night.
If you need to contact me, my details are below.
Today: 08/12/2015 – Sent again
When I first contacted you, neither of you replied, I also tried to call to confirm this with you, there was no response and no one called me back. I now understand that was the reason Karla moved out. I was unable to sleep in a bed with mice in it and eat food without a working fridge, I believe this constitutes an uninhabitable flat.
Best wishes,
Thanks for asking for me.
What type of agreement did the tenant have?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It was an AST.

Is the deposit protected?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We asked for the first and last month's rent as a substitute for registering the deposit. It says in her AST that when she moved in she was paying a first and last month's rent, not a deposit. We did this on the advice of a reputable high street estate agent.

So what did you do with the final months rent? Where is that money sitting?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We have it in our company bank account.

I think the advice you have been given is wrong. Imagine going before a Judge and saying the first months rent and last month (in particular the last month) is not a deposit especially when you are holding it in your account.
I can't see this happening. You need to protect the deposit before you issue ANY notice to quit or take steps to gain possession. This is the issue for you.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

In the contract the tenant signed, she agreed that her payment was for their first and last month's rent. It is not their deposit.

Doesn't this mean that we can lawfully use the first and last month approach?

We never use the last month for a deposit in case they trash the place. We use the last month to pay their last month, nothing else.
If they trash the place, we suffer the costs.

We don't deduct anything from their last month that they pay when they move in. It just means that on their final month, they don't need to pay rent.
Surely that's legally acceptable?

I dont think you can. In essence you are trying to avoid the law by keeping the last months money. I asked where the last months money was sitting - you said in the Company bank account. If that is not being held as a deposit for the last month, I dont know what is.
I dont think you can take any step to take possession, but if you want to try and run that argument I would advise against it. Can you use the first and last month approach - first month yes, thats fine but not in last month.
Does that clarify?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The tenant didn't pay her October rent, and didn't find a replacement for herself. Can we use her last month that she paid when she moved in to cover her for that October rent? She paid her November rent but moved out a few days later - but didn't pay her October rent.

So are you saying that we need to abandon the first and last month approach, then register that last month as a deposit, then make an appeal to a deposit scheme to release that month's income to us on the basis that she didn't pay her October rent?

We're not trying to avoid the law - we're trying to avoid a mess where tenants run off without paying their final month and we have to pursue them at cost.

Is this the wrong appoach?

You can only use the last month if the tenancy agreement allows you to do this. If not then you can't.
I dont think you should be doing the first and last month approach. Payment of first month is fine. But you should be registering the last month in the TDS if that is what you are going to do.
Does that help?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

In the tenancy agreement it states that the tenant is paying first and last month's rent.

So does that mean we can legally use this approach?

I dont think you can because the last month is probably going to be considered a deposit.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ok thank you, ***** ***** return to the question of this tenant who moved out a few days after paying her November rent date, but didn't pay her October rent, are the steps I need to take:

1) register the last month as a deposit

2) make a claim against her for the October rent to the tenancy deposit scheme?

Ash and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ok thank you.


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