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rl290
04-02-2010, 22:28 PM
Hello,
This is my first post, so please be gentle! I have posted the below on moneysavingexpert, and one of the posters has suggested that this forum would be more appropriate for my query.

An American friend of mine who is living in London is having some serious problems with his landlady, so I said that I'd post his story here with he hope that you good people may be able to offer some advice.

My friend and two other people have been renting a flat in central London for 4 months. Their contract is 12 months long, with the LL able to evict them with 2 months notice from the 6th month onwards. However, because the total value of the rent is over £25,000 for the whole year (quite common in 3-bed central London properties) this is NOT an AST I think, and the deposit does not need to be held in one of the three deposit scheme.

Currently the deposit (of £3,600) is held in the name of the estate agent. Before Christmas, my friend received a letter from the LL asking him and his flatmates to sign a document allowing her to move the deposit into her name. He has not acted on this, and tomorrow the LL is having a meeting with the tenants. She has made it clear that, should they not sign, she will serve notice on them to move out when the 6 months are up.

Obviously this is quite fishy... a great worry is that the LL is trying to get cash fast (for mortgage payments?) or that she will be tough to deal with in getting the deposit back at the end of the tenancy. The estate agents have been bringing prospective purchasers of the property around in the last few weeks.

I have already told my friend to phone Shelter, which he will try to do before the meeting. I have also suggested that he may wish to ask for proof that the LL has permission to let / a buy to let mortgage to ensure they will not be kicked out in the event of a repossession. There is also the option to refuse to let any more purchasers view the property while they are living there (I assume a clause saying that they have to do this in their tenancy agreement is void?). Changing the locks is an option for this, I guess? Can anyone provide any more help??

Thankfully my friend won't be walked over, and would rather move out after the break clause and find somewhere else to live than give into the LL. So any helpful advice will be acted upon!

Thanks in advance,
R

Lawcruncher
04-02-2010, 22:35 PM
There is no reason the landlord should have the deposit. Sounds like she wants to snatch it. Sign nothing.

Preston
04-02-2010, 23:05 PM
Hi

I sympathise with your friends concerns. I think I would ask the question of the landlord, why do you want to hold the money? Others may disagree, but I don't think a "non protected" deposit is inherently safer when in the hands of an agent as opposed to a landlord. You never know, there may be a legitimate explanation for the request. Perhaps the landlord is concerned about the agent's stability? I have had experience of agents going bust and taking clients' money with them.

I have no doubt your friend has already done this, but it is of course also very important to look at the tenancy agreement to see what it says about by whom and how the deposit should be held and managed.

Having said all of this, I certainly agree with your friend's caution. It's alot of money and they have every right to know that it is being properly managed.

As for allowing or not allowing viewings, most agreements require the tenant to permit access in the last month (or so) of the letting; it would be unusual for viewings to be required throughout the tenancy.

Whether or not a tenant is entitled to ignore a contractual provision requiring access for viewings is open to debate and differing views have been expressed on this forum. I see no reason in theory why such clauses should not be enforceable although in practice I doubt that many if any landlords ever go to the trouble of litigating on the issue.

jeffrey
05-02-2010, 09:28 AM
Either way, L can serve a s.21 Notice without having to disclose any reason.

Lilo
05-02-2010, 09:56 AM
this is NOT an AST I think, and the deposit does not need to be held in one of the three deposit scheme.

I didn't know that. I thought all deposits should be held in the schemes.

mind the gap
05-02-2010, 10:52 AM
This is a very sad story and a very difficult matter to dealt with. The land lady is doing efforts to push you to leave the apartment and that is why she is doing all these kind of activities which are not legally permitted in any court of law under any agreements between the land lord and the tenants.

George Raddison, your thoughts are much appreciated, but please remove the advertising from your signature strip, as it is not allowed and people might even think you are a spammer. Thank you:)

jeffrey
05-02-2010, 11:06 AM
this is NOT an AST I think, and the deposit does not need to be held in one of the three deposit scheme.

I didn't know that. I thought all deposits should be held in the schemes.
No. The 2004 Act's requirements apply only to ASTs.

westminster
05-02-2010, 11:06 AM
Currently the deposit (of £3,600) is held in the name of the estate agent. Before Christmas, my friend received a letter from the LL asking him and his flatmates to sign a document allowing her to move the deposit into her name. He has not acted on this, and tomorrow the LL is having a meeting with the tenants. She has made it clear that, should they not sign, she will serve notice on them to move out when the 6 months are up.

Obviously this is quite fishy...
Is the agent a member of a professional body such as ARLA? If so, it is likely that the deposit is being held in a protected clients' account. If not, it is not necessarily safer with the agents as if they were to go bankrupt the deposit would vanish along with them, leaving T to retrieve deposit from LL - there have been several threads on this situation. (It's just conceivable that the LL is worried about this).

But what is fishy is LL applying pressure to sign the document. However, she is entitled to issue notice seeking possession after the fixed term expires.


There is also the option to refuse to let any more purchasers view the property while they are living there (I assume a clause saying that they have to do this in their tenancy agreement is void?). Changing the locks is an option for this, I guess? Can anyone provide any more help??
The provision to allow viewings isn't necessarily void, it just may be impractical to enforce it, with the length of time it takes to obtain a court order.

What would this 'option' actually achieve anyway? Are your friends hoping to obtain a reference from this landlord because if so, they should bear this in mind.

ram
05-02-2010, 11:27 AM
Their contract is 12 months long, with the LL able to evict them with 2 months notice from the 6th month onwards. She has made it clear that, should they not sign, she will serve notice on them to move out when the 6 months are up.



Motives behind the Deposit.

It is quite clear that your LL wants to sell the property ( The estate agents have been bringing prospective purchasers of the property around in the last few weeks.) and wants to make sure you are out at the end of 12 months, and if not, she hopes to keep some of your deposit if you do not go, as compensation if the purchase falls through because she can't get the tenants out. ( She will never admit to this, but the thought will be there, illegal or not ) But looks like she wants you out when SHE wants you out, so the sale goes through, but you will be given 2 months to leave when she has a buyer, be it at 6 months 7, 8, 9, etc, so she can sell, no matter where your deposit is.

Bad news for you, but take the advice from others, sign nothing, let her give 2 months notice after 6 months, and in the meantime, they have time to look for another flat.

Rather than have a fight on your hands, best to see the situaton as it is, she is selling and does not want to jepardise a sale, and has already started her strong arm tactics of "give me your deposit or i throw you out", so if you can, look for somewhere else, and it will save you a great deal of distress.

Sorry your friends have encountered a not so truthfull Landlord and her intentions were not made clear, It gives those good Landlords a bad name.

R.a.M.

rl290
09-02-2010, 09:57 AM
Hello,
Thanks all for the help. I thought I'd just post an update for your reading pleasure... the LL met with the tenant and explained that she wanted to move the deposit because the estate agent who currently hold the deposit (one rather notorious aggressive southern agent...) have been slow in releasing funds. She claimed that allowing her to hold the funds would allow her to fix things in the flat quicker... she also denied wanting the sell the flat

My friend replied that:
1) There are already methods set in place in the contract for the release of funds for various purposes. This is not his concern.
2) Why, if she is not selling up, are there viewings?

The outcome is that my friend said he might accept moving the deposit BUT only if it is to one of the tenancy deposit schemes (if this is possible for a non AST? If not, then a solicitor) and for some very favourable improvements to the flat. The LL is looking into his proposal.

R

jeffrey
09-02-2010, 10:22 AM
If it's not an AST, no statutory rules apply to who holds the deposit.
A solicitor appointed jointly by L and T for this purpose (= one who has never previously acted for either of them) could be used.

Telometer
09-02-2010, 14:06 PM
Or just let L have the deposit, and withhold the last month's rent, as traditional...

jeffrey
09-02-2010, 14:13 PM
Or just let L have the deposit, and withhold the last month's rent, as traditional...
...but entirely unauthorised.

rl290
21-02-2010, 00:26 AM
Just to say thank you to everyone for your help. To update, the LL has not come back in reply to my friend's proposal (moving deposit to solicitor/TDS and upgrades in property), and I doubt that anything will happen - I guess the bluff was called!

R