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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 32255
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I'm breaking my current contract (join with other 2 people)

Customer Question

Hi! i'm breaking my current contract (join with other 2 people) by leaving 3 months earlier and I requested to the agency and landlady to take last month rent from my deposit. On my contract is only mentioned a fee of £50 for change of occupants however the landlady wants to take from my deposit £506 for fees that the agency charged to her for making a new contract with a new tenant (found by my flatmates). The landlady mentioned she wants to register for summons against non payment of rent but if I pay my rent she won't return my full deposit, can she do that?
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me where the property is located?
Customer: Hi, it's in London!
JA: What are the terms of the lease? Any issues related to maintenance or upkeep?
Customer: can you clarify please?
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: yes, because we had some slow reaction to maintenance of the house we delayed some payments and there are currently £300 outstanding rent payment from one of my flatmates. Not all is documented via email
Submitted: 15 days ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

Hello and thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 15 years’ experience. Please be aware that although I will endeavour to reply to you promptly, I am also in full time private practice and so I may not be available to respond immediately and it may also take me a few minutes to prepare a reply. The site will notify you as soon as I respond. I look forward to working with you to answer your question fully.

Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

for the avoidance of doubt, from what you say, this is not simply a situation where you wish to leave early but rather, a situation where you wish to leave early but have found a replacement tenant to take over your liability under the tenancy. Is that correct please?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Hi Joshua, thanks for your response! The replacement tenant was found by my flatmates, they provided his details to the agency for financial check and to get approval. I was out of uk in that week and only on my return I went to the agency to talk about my deposit. That’s where I found out about the £506 charges that the landlady wants to credit to me.
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

Thank you. The relevant legislation in this respect as the tenant fees act which prohibits all fees and charges in relation to tenancy agreements other than so-called "permitted payments" which are a series of defined specific payments which are allowable under the Act. One charge which is allowable is a charge where a tenant such as yourself ends a tenancy early or replaces themselves as a tenant. In the circumstances, the act provides that the landlord or agent as the case may be can charge a fee but ordinarily, that fee should not be more than £50 unless it can demonstrate that reasonable costs have been incurred which justify exceeding this amount. See page 54 of the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/922898/Tenant_Fees_Act_2019_-_Guidance_for_landlords_and_agents.pdf

In practice, agents will regularly justify exceeding that figure (which in truth is likely to be unrealistically low in terms of reflecting the actual work involved) and seek to charge fees which somewhat resemble fees of old. In the immediate term, as you are keen to replace yourself, and are liable as a result for further rent payments whilst you argue the toss, an approach worth considering assuming you have the funds to do so is to pay and seek to reclaim.

You could start by asking the agent to explain and justify the significant amount they propose by way of " service charge" and if you are not satisfied with their response, you could agree to pay the amount and then later after a new tenant has been found, issue an application to the property tribunal to seek to recover most of the amount over £50. In this respect there is a non binding decision of the property tribunal which held that where the agent's charges substantially exceeded £50, the agent should have evidenced a particular consideration or reason for exceeding the £50 limit in the decision in 3 Leighfield House, Hackney, London N4 2TR : NS/LON/00AM/HTC/2021/0010 First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), 8 September 2021

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/6139e6a3d3bf7f05b2ac1fce/3_Leighfield_House_TFA_s_15_Decision.pdf

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
In this case the agency is not charging me the £50 as per contract but they are charging to the landlady £506 (fees not mentioned on my contract) and she wants to hold those from my deposit. See attached part relative to change of occupancy for your reference. Based on this, can you confirm if the landlady could legally hold £506 from my deposit? From your previous message I understand the best action would be to pay my last rent and let the landlady take those money from my deposit. Only then I would be able to issue an application to the property tribunal to seek to recover most of the amount over £50, but how likely is it that the verdict would be in tenant’s favour?
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

thank you for the clarification. The land that he could attempt a deduction from your deposit on the above basis but you could dispute any claim and refer the matter to the deposit protection adjudicator if you both agree or in the alternative, to the County Court which another case should decide the matter based on the above principles

Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

I hope the above is of some assistance but if you have any further questions, please revert to me.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Hi! The landlady just sent an email saying that the agency has spoken to My deposits where She has protected my deposit and they have advised that I would be entitled to no return of deposit as I’m forcing a change inside a joint and several agreement and leaving alone. can they take the full deposit?
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

it is difficult to comment on a report of a thirdhand conversation the landlady has had. Nothing above changes the approach that any dispute would be determined which is as set out above. I find it unlikely that representation would have been made by the deposit protection service as regards ***** ***** outcome of any dispute. This is more likely to be the landlady attempting to convince you to acquiesce to her demands

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Thanks! She added If rent is not paid, she have been advised to issue a summons for non payment of rent at the Bow County Court, a simple process of filling in all names with the amount outstanding. They will write back to me for my defence within a few days as to why I haven’t paid, and they add £400.00 to the claim for costs.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
In this case I can pay the rent but still don’t agree to be charged £506 fees. How can I proceed?
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

Rent should be paid as it falls due under the tenancy unless and until such time as you are released from liability under the tenancy.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Sorry maybe my question wasn’t clear. I’m asking how to proceed if I want to dispute for £506 being held from my deposit?
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

You would have the option either to raise a dispute with the arbitration scheme offered by the scheme provider or issue a claim in the county court

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Ok thanks for advising. Can you please clarify what’s the difference?
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

The arbitration scheme is free but both of you must agree. The county court incurs issue fees though you can reclaim these if you are successful.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Noted. In the case I want to dispute through the arbitration scheme, both the landlord must agree on what?
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

The landlord must agree to use the arbitration scheme in order for it to have jurisdiction. If they will not you will default to having to resole the matter in the county court.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
once I’m out of the property I have immediately request for my deposit. If the landlord wants to take money which I don’t agree I can raise a dispute with mydeposit custodial? Is this the arbitration scheme?
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

that would amount to an accurate summary of what we have discussed above

Expert:  Joshua replied 13 days ago.

I trust the above was of assistance and that you do not have any follow up questions for now. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though.

Expert:  Joshua replied 13 days ago.

I hope I was able to answer your question. If you would like to ask me another question in the future, you can add me as a favourite Expert. You'll have the option to do that on your "My Questions" page if you choose to rate our interaction or you can request me by name if you wish. Thank you again for visiting JustAnswer and see you again in the future I hope.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Hi! I paid my last rent and now the landlady is saying that the new contract will costs her hundred of pounds and she will credit this to me. Is this legal? On my contract is only mentioned a fee of £50
Expert:  Joshua replied 12 days ago.

as we discussed above, any amount over £50 in relation to a change of tenancy must be objectively shown as being justified and the burden of proof is upon the landlord in order to justify any costs over and above this amount which is not to say that costs over £50 not be justified. The guidance to the legislation says the more that is sought over this amount, the higher the burden of proof will be in terms of justification