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LilMe
16-09-2009, 10:57 AM
Hi

I just want to say first that i really appreciate any advice any one is able to give me. thank you for reading this.

well, i'm a student in sheffield about to go into my third year. anyway, i signed my tenancy agreement with the accomodation owned by UNITE a few months back, paid my deposit and everything. this agreement started just a few days ago.

now i've got a couple of mates who are in sheffield on work placement till the end of sept. they are also students. but it's not worthwhile for them to get student accom for one month or any private accom (they couldn't for one month). so i decided to let them stay in my flat for the past few nights while i was still back at home with parents. i didnt intend to move into my accom until sometime next week.

anyway, the manager of the accomodation found out that i was letting my mates stay there while i want present. and now the manager is demanding that i have to leave the accomodation by tomorrow. i've only had a few days notice and am panicking to find something else. i'm also feeling physically unwell because of the siatuation...

the manager said that they will find me a replacement tenant if i leave by thursday and only keep my deposit. if i dont leave by thursday, i will have to find a replacement tenant (which includes paying rent until i find someone) and still have to leave. as you can see they are giving me no options, i lose out both way and i dont think this is fair. i honestly feel like im being bullied by the manager and other staff of the accom, who want to see me out.

anyway, i'm a law student and don't think this can be right. can they really tell me to leave like this? can they force me out? was what i did a breach serious enough to terminate the contract?

i'm unsure what my rights are, and i'm stuck. i'm trying to find an accomodation in sheffield without luck and have to have my things moved out by tomorrow.

i honestly don't know what to do, and my parents are just as clueless as i am.

i would be grateful if anyone could help me out in the situation. thank you so much for reading this.

please let me know if you need anymore information :-)

PRS
16-09-2009, 11:13 AM
Can you clarify what sort of tenancy contract you have with Unite and confirm the start date? Presumably an AST Assured Shorthold Tenancy? Have you paid over a deposit?

Did your "mates" pay you for them staying there? Did they cause any Damage or disturbance? - how many of them stayed and for how long?

Dont panic and dont move out - tell them you are currently taking legal advice.

jeffrey
16-09-2009, 11:22 AM
Is 'UNITE':
a. the Trades Union; or
b. a wing of one of the Universities in Sheffield? In case 'b', either The University of Sheffield or Sheffield Hallam University, the letting is probably outside the Housing Act 1988: paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 [see below].

8. (1) A tenancy which is granted to a person who is pursuing, or intends to pursue, a course of study provided by a specified educational institution and is so granted either by that institution or by another specified institution or body of persons.
(2) In sub-paragraph (1) above “specified” means specified, or of a class specified, for the purposes of this paragraph by regulations made by the Secretary of State by statutory instrument.
(3) A statutory instrument made in the exercise of the power conferred by sub-paragraph (2) above shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

PRS
16-09-2009, 11:27 AM
Jeffrey,

UNITE is the largest supplier of Student Accommodation in the Country. They are a public company who have developed and built lots of new blocks etc specifically for the purpose. They either then directly let to the students or they provide the building to the University to them to use as Halls Of Residence to put students in. Hence my question about whether its an AST or not, which if its direct with Unite it will be.

LilMe
16-09-2009, 11:39 AM
thanks for the replies :-)

its UNITE, a company providing student accomodation across the country.

there is no direct mention of it being an AST in the contract however. I'm unsure myself what type of contract it is.

I've paid a deposit.

No my mates did not pay me. one of them was due to move out today anyway, and the other would have stayed for a few more weeks. but since i was moving back this weekend to sheffield, my accom wouldn't be able to do anything as we are allowed to have guests stay overnight (at least every student i know does this).

they didnt cause any disturbance according to one of my flatmates. the other flatmate actually put in a noise complaint which is how the accomodation found out. however my mates and other flatmate believes this is because the new flatmate didnt like my mates when she met them...

they had only stayed for a 3 nights, and 2 of them. also, both of them had stayed and paid for that same accomodation the year before and throughout the summer.

they only moved to my room after their summer agreement with the accomodation ended, and this was under a week ago.

LilMe
16-09-2009, 11:40 AM
the contract was directly with unite..not through my university if that helps.

PRS
16-09-2009, 11:54 AM
As I indicated in my previous posts - the question of whether the agreement is with Unite or with the University is critical - as I clarified for Jeffrey if its direct with Unite it is 99.9% likely to be an AST, if however its a standard Halls Of Residence contract with the Uni (because Unite have given the building to the Uni) then you have little protection other than what the terms of the contract state.

As you say its with Unite then we must assume its an AST in which case they cant just throw you out with out proper notice or a court order.

I am very surprised the agreement does not refer to it being an AST or make reference to the Housing Act - check again.

Also, what is the term of the tenancy and what (if anything) does it say about "Protection of the Deposit" with an authorised scheme?

jeffrey
16-09-2009, 11:55 AM
the contract was directly with unite..not through my university if that helps.
OK. So UNITE probably owns the block and lets direct to student tenants (i.e. rather than letting whole block to University for latter's sub-letting).
You most likely are an Assured Shorthold Tenant. Even if you have breached the AST obligations, L cannot evict you other than with a Court Order.
Harassment is a criminal offence.

LilMe
16-09-2009, 12:18 PM
PRS, thanks for the reply.

I'm surprised too..there is nothing stating it is a AST. It is directly with Unite nothing to do with my uni. It is a fixed term until mid July next year.

I can't find any reference to the Housing Act either. I will try to put a copy up (without personal details) of the contract later on if I can (if thats allowed on the forum).

Regarding deposit, I can't find anything like that. Theres no mention of an authorised scheme.

jeffrey, thanks for the reply

the agreement also mentions the accomodation having to obtain a court order which i'm told can take months.

if i continue to stay in the accomodation during this period, will i still be liable to pay for the rent?

I feel like i am being harassed, and the shelter website also states this as an offence.

thanks for the replies :-)

jeffrey
16-09-2009, 12:23 PM
the agreement also mentions the accomodation having to obtain a court order which i'm told can take months.

if i continue to stay in the accomodation during this period, will i still be liable to pay for the rent?
Yes, of course. If you affirm a continuing tenancy, it follows that your rent liability continues too.

LilMe
16-09-2009, 12:27 PM
thanks jeffrey

im thinking of trying to negotiate with them first. but if they cant do this, then i will wait for them to give me the correct notice and go for a court order. this also gives me more time to find a place.

however, in this student accomodation we pay rent in 3 installments. one in oct, then jan, then april.

if I stay till lets say novemeber, will I only be liable for rent for the weeks i have stayed? i'm in an agreement where i've contracted to pay the fill amount until july next year.

assuming in the circumstances of course that it was the landlord who ended the agreement.

thank you

PRS
16-09-2009, 13:07 PM
It would be really useful if you could post up/attach the first couple of pages from your (tenancy)agreement cos a couple of things dont really add up.......

And, "im thinking of trying to negotiate with them first" ...why would you want to negotiate out of an agreement which has 9 months to go and you havent yet moved into the property?

mind the gap
16-09-2009, 13:12 PM
Unless the tenancy agreement specifically forbids you to have overnight guests then I do not see what grounds they will use for trying to evict you. It is not as if you were subletting as you received no rent from them.

Given the choice, would you prefer to stay in that accommodation, or would you prefer to find somewhere else?

silvercar
16-09-2009, 15:01 PM
If you haven't yet moved in, can your visitors be considered guests before you move in?

As UNITE markets itself as providing secure and safe accommodation (it emphasis the security of its grounds and building and the provision of pass key entry systems etc) I wonder if there is anything in your tenancy agreement about not giving keys to other people.

I suspect the combination of complaints from other tenants, you not yet living there and unknown people living in your room has upset the landlord.

bagpuss
16-09-2009, 18:14 PM
I had a quick look at the UNITE website and under their 'legal stuff' it gives you their contract and it is an AST. http://www.unite-students.com/unite-stage2/static/england-termsandconditions.page

They do have this clause:

3.15.4 require the incoming tenant to enter into an agreement with the Landlord which confirms that the incoming tenant will observe and comply with the obligations of the Tenant contained in the Tenancy Agreement.

The Tenant will not sublet the Room or part with possession or share occupation of the Room or any part of it under any circumstances.

Does anyone know if this clause would cover this situation and could they really enforce this clause? It would appear that if you abided by this clause, you couldn't even have overnight visitors!

mind the gap
16-09-2009, 18:20 PM
OP referred to 'my flat' in his first post, which makes me think he is renting more than just one single room. If he does have an AST for a room in a flat with shared communal areas e.g. kitchen, then I do not see how the property company can forbid him to have overnight guests. I think the clause above is possibly unenforceable because it denies the T his quiet enjoyment - it is not unreasonable to have guests to stay.

Universities often have (but rarely enforce) 'no-visitors' rules in single rooms in halls of residence, to try to avoid several students occupying one room long-term, contrary to overcrowding and fire regulations, but occupants of uni halls are not on AST tenancies; universities are a law unto themselves when it comes to their accommodation.

bagpuss
16-09-2009, 18:26 PM
But OP says that this is not a University run residence, so Uni rules don't apply.

It seems to me that he has a normal AST and, as long as that is the case, there's no way they can do to him what they're trying to do - throwing him out without a court order, keeping his deposit etc etc.

I'd check I had a normal AST and if I did, I'd tell them to take me to court and see what happens. I can't see any judge chucking him out on the basis of what we've heard so far.

I'd also tell them that I was going to report them for harrassment.

theartfullodger
16-09-2009, 18:26 PM
OFT guidance on unfair terms in lettings/tenancies (Foxtons anyone??)

http://www.oft.gov.uk/advice_and_resources/publications/guidance/unfair-terms-consumer/oft356
says...
Group 18(d): Excluding the tenant's right to assign or sublet
Excluding assignment and subletting

Unfair term
The tenant must not assign underlet
charge part with or share possession
or occupation of the property or any
part of it.

..



Way of revising term
The tenant must not assign underlet
or part with or share possession of
the whole or any part of the property
without the permission of the
landlord, such permission not to be
unreasonably withheld.

SO I think UNITE, notwithstanding they are the largest student Landlord, have got this wrong..

Point out OFT guidance (the whole document is worth a read - if you have no social life) and mention the OFT took Foxtons to court and would Unite please F*** off and start behaving as a responsible and sensible student Landlord...

(Later edit) On reflection, suggest Unite comply with OFT guidance as their directors (home addresses available for £1 at Companies House) are sure to agree with the OFT.

btw there was a puffed up piece about UNITE's head man in't Sunday Times. He never went to Uni... Kinda nice that eh??

Yours aye, Cheers!

Lodger

mind the gap
16-09-2009, 18:28 PM
Hear, hear, bagpuss and Lodger!

PRS
16-09-2009, 18:48 PM
Point out OFT guidance (the whole document is worth a read - if you have no social life)

Sorry, I'm one of those people with no social life as one of my specialist subjects includes the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations.

Heres the full OFT view

Group 18(d): Unreasonably excluding the tenant's right to assign or sublet

4.22 The law ordinarily allows purchasers to sell on (or 'assign') to someone else what they have bought and this applies to tenancies as to other property. Most tenants can also, in principle, let property that has been let to them (sub- or underletting) provided they continue to observe the obligations under their own tenancy. Terms that restrict these rights may be considered unfair if they prevent a tenant, who wants to leave the property before the end of the tenancy and can provide a suitable replacement tenant, from doing so.
4.23 Our concerns arise only where contract terms allow landlords to refuse to accept the early surrender of fixed term agreements and insist that tenants pay rent for the whole of the period of the tenancy. If tenants need to leave, it is not fair for them to be bound to pay rent if another suitable person is willing and able to do so. For this reason we consider that, in fixed term tenancies, an absolute ban on both assignment and subletting may be considered unfair.
4.24 The law says that where the contract provides that the landlord's consent is required before a tenant is allowed to 'assign' or sublet a fixed term tenancy, the landlord may not withhold consent unreasonably. (Section 19(1)(a) Landlord and Tenant Act 1927). In other words, if the tenant wants to move before the end of the fixed term, and can find someone else to pay the rent for the rest of the term, then the landlord can object if the person involved is unsuitable, but cannot block the transaction without good reason.
4.25 Landlords have a legitimate interest in preventing their property from passing into the hands of unsuitable tenants. However, in fixed term tenancies, this does not justify an arbitrary right to withhold consent to assignment and subletting. Where tenants are committed to pay rent for a period of months or years, they too have a legitimate interest at stake. We take the view that there is unlikely to be an objection to a term that states that the landlord may prohibit assignment or subletting for a minimum period at the start of the tenancy, for example, for the first three months in an agreement of six months or longer.

Lodger is right, the clause flies in the face of the OFT Guidance and is thus challengeable and potentially unenforceable/void. Only the courts however interpret legislation not the OFT and so any case will be decided upon its merits (and the mood of the judge). The term & reference the Lodger quotes (from the OFT) is one which they have persuaded a landlord/agent to revise in their AST, not based on a court ruling.

Having said that, I am confident a court would find the Unite clause referred to a breach of the Regs.

mind the gap
16-09-2009, 19:21 PM
However, since what OP was doing (allowing his friends to stay as guests in his home with no money or contract being exchanged between him and them) was not subletting, I do not see how any clause prohibiting subletting is relevant to his case anyway.

What exactly is implied by the term 'assign' in this context - is that different from subletting?

IanM
16-09-2009, 19:35 PM
From http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/residential_tenancies.htm Tenants have a right to "quiet enjoyment" which means the freedom to enjoy the property as any "owner" would - free from unnecessary interference by the landlord.

Which legislation describes quiet enjoyment?

These OFT guidelines seem more appropriate:

4.49 The ultimate sanction for breach of a term of a tenancy is termination of the
agreement and eviction of the tenant. There should be no possibility within
the contract, however remote, of any attempt by the landlord to terminate the
agreement and evict the tenant for a default that poses no real threat to the
landlord's legitimate interests.

4.50 Landlords need to restrict the tenant's use of the property to a degree and
impose obligations in the interests of good estate management. However,
these terms must be reasonable, taking into account the type and location of
the property, and whether the particular term has been introduced as a result
of obligations placed on the landlord. Landlords may be bound by restrictive
covenants in the contracts by which they hold the property or by other
obligations such as residents' committee rules. Terms binding the tenant to
comply with these obligations and restrictions are unlikely to raise objections,
provided that the tenant is made aware of them when they are considering
entering the agreement.

4.51 We object to terms in tenancy agreements that impose obligations or
restrictions that are or can be wholly unreasonable, or that give the landlord
the power to make unreasonable conditions. Our objections apply even if
such a term does not always operate wholly unreasonably in all
circumstances. There is less risk of unfairness where a term's scope is
limited to the problem it is designed to prevent or resolve.

What exactly is implied by the term 'assign' in this context - is that different from subletting?I think it means that a new tenant replaces the existing tenant for the remainder of the contract, and all the same terms apply. LL can say no to this with a valid reason, e.g. proposed new tenant clearly hasn't the means to pay the rent, or maybe something like the buildings and liability insurance premium would increase significantly

PRS
16-09-2009, 19:45 PM
Mind the Gap, "However, since what OP was doing (allowing his friends to stay as guests in his home with no money or contract being exchanged between him and them) was not subletting, I do not see how any clause prohibiting subletting is relevant to his case anyway."




The Tenant will not sublet the Room or part with possession or share occupation of the Room or any part of it under any circumstances.[/B]



Because the OP is, by implication of the threats made by "manager" about having his AST (we assume) unilaterally terminated because they believe he has either sublet it; parted with possession (assigned) or shared occupation (with his non paying mates).

In any of those circumstances (assuming its an AST) the LL cannot simply tell the TT to pack his bags and move out by thursday!

PRS
16-09-2009, 19:46 PM
Mind the Gap, "However, since what OP was doing (allowing his friends to stay as guests in his home with no money or contract being exchanged between him and them) was not subletting, I do not see how any clause prohibiting subletting is relevant to his case anyway."




The Tenant will not sublet the Room or part with possession or share occupation of the Room or any part of it under any circumstances.[/B]



Because the OP is, by implication of the threats made by "manager" having his AST (we assume its an AST) unilaterally terminated because they believe he has either sublet it; parted with possession (assigned) or shared occupation (with his non paying mates).

In any of those circumstances the LL cannot simply tell the TT to pack his bags and move out by thursday!

mind the gap
16-09-2009, 20:00 PM
I agree! You didn't need to say it all twice :D

dominic
16-09-2009, 20:39 PM
The LL hasn't really got a hope in hell of evicting you on the facts you have provided.

If they continue to kick up a fuss (and I assume it is more convenient for you to stay without needing to find alt accommodation), ask which part of the tenancy agreement they allege you have breached.

Remember, generally speaking ASTs are subject to consumer legislation such as UCTA 1977 and UTCCRs 1999, so any application to the court to evict you (and they will need a court order), another string to your bow in any defence are the consumer protection laws in relation to any non-plain English, potentially unfair clauses they are attempting to hold you to.

PRS
16-09-2009, 20:59 PM
another string to your bow in any defence are the consumer protection laws in relation to any non-plain English, potentially unfair clauses they are attempting to hold you to.

....err yes that is a great example of "good plain english"! Actually, the UTCCRs refer to the need for contracts to be written in "plain and intelligible language" So, for example, that includes Welsh, not exclusively English.

Bel
17-09-2009, 09:16 AM
It doesnt surprise me that the agreement does not say that it is a AST; UNITE obviously want to keep their students in ignorance of the Law and deprive them of their rights....sounds like a good business model to me.

My suggestion to OP

Go to CAB for support or Shelter or your local tenancy relations officer at the council. Or go to a solicitor.

Do not leave your accomodation

Apologise to any flatmates you have offended

Write letter to the manager saying that you think there is a big mis-undertanding between you and that you are looking forward to living at the wonderful accomodation. Regarding you having x days to leave the building; you are taking legal advice, and will consider any threats to deprive you of your room as harrassment and a breach of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. You have a fixed term contract and intend to stay for the full term.


I think you should take possession of your room yourself ASAP if you have not done so.

jeffrey
17-09-2009, 11:56 AM
What exactly is implied by the term 'assign' in this context - is that different from subletting?
Yes, largely as IanM posted.
A. ASSIGN:
X disposes of entire existing interest to Y. X is no longer liable to L, with a few exceptions.

B. UNDERLET/SUBLET:
1. X retains entire existing interest.
2. Out of it, X creates a subordinate and shorter interest for Y.
3. X remains liable to L.
4. In turn, Y becomes liable to X.

westminster
17-09-2009, 12:09 PM
It doesnt surprise me that the agreement does not say that it is a AST; UNITE obviously want to keep their students in ignorance of the Law and deprive them of their rights....sounds like a good business model to me.

Well, if it didn't before, (and I don't remember seeing it either), it does now. The page link previously posted is headed ASSURED SHORTHOLD TENANCY AGREEMENT.

http://www.unite-students.com/unite-stage2/static/england-termsandconditions.page

They also seem to have inserted clauses about the deposit (required by TDS) which weren't there before. Unite had better cross their fingers that all the incorrect TAs issued before now don't come back to haunt them...

dominic
17-09-2009, 13:04 PM
Unite had better cross their fingers that all the incorrect TAs issued before now don't come back to haunt them...

Or their lawyers who will undoubtable bear the can....

PRS: as a lawyer I will choose to accept your comment as a compliment, although I admit, I have seen contracts in most languages, but never Welsh.

Moderator1
17-09-2009, 14:49 PM
Less-serious posts about Welsh language contracts have been moved to a new Take A Break thread:
http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=22438

Erika
11-09-2010, 09:23 AM
I have lived in unite in manchester for 2 years and they have taken my deposit which was 250 and are now trying to get another 500 pounds from me!!!??????

Can they do this????

I HAVE JUST GRADUATED FROM UNIVERSITY.... WITH NO JOB AND I CANT EVEN AFFORD THE FEE ANYWAY.



Help thanks