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worriedtenant
19-03-2010, 12:25 PM
Hi all, I know this is a landlords site but wanted some advise please....


I have been a tenant at a property with one other flatmate since August 2008. Today we have given notice to leave on May 31st.

Initially my tenancy was via an agency and then after the first year anniversary my landlady forced myself and my flatmate to go privately with her as she was unhappy with the agency. We did not want this to happen as we wanted the protection of a third party but were told to accept it or leave.

We were promised new tenancy contracts would be sent to us but these have never eventuated with my landlady saying to me several times in calls that we were still covered by the old contract in the interim. The bond was returned from the agency to myself in September last year and has been left in a separate bank account of mine untouched until such time as I could view and sign any new contracts and then transfer this to a relevant tenancy deposit scheme.

Following giving notice today I have had the most uncomfortable call with her where she has started demanding I immediately start work on the property for viewings (which will happen from late April)
In particular the garden was demanded to be tidied asap - as I explained it's not untidy but it has been winter so obviously the grass requires a mow and some clipping back of a hedge border as soon as the weather allows, all of which I am more than happy to do and have maintained in a good condition during my stay and have provided my own mower, hedge trimmers etc for this. She stated she was able to do her garden last weekend so couldn’t see why I couldn’t.

She also stated she thinks some of my own property in the house "looks scruffy" for viewings for example I have a collection of vinyl records in a stand in the living room which was singled out and a small under bench freezer in the kitchen.

Further more she has purchased new sofas for her house and now wants to place 2 excess sofas into our flat this weekend as she has nowhere to store them. We could possibly accommodate one at a stretch but not two (on top of the one existing) however it will be a squeeze but she was adamant I should take it "as she doesn't want things to go to solicitors and get nasty". When I explained this really wasn't suitable and I would have to confirm with my flatmate she kept wanting an answer immediately and said that "as it's just two months remaining it doesn't really matter if it's a bit crowded".



Finally I have just received an email from her demanding the bond and that I sign new contracts for the remaining two months period.



So, I guess my questions are how should I handle this ? I really don't want any bad blood between us and have always been a good tenant but the call has left me really shaken and the threats of all kinds of action leave me extremely worried even though they are baseless, I just don’t want the hassle.

Should I sign any new contract she sends and should I transfer the bond with only the two months remaining ? My fear is she is going to claim all kinds of costs which simply isn't the case (she was even talking about having the garden grass resown
at my expense which is ridiculous as there is nothing wrong with it.) I have no intention of not doing anything other than a full clean and tidy of the garden in time for viewings and the property is in a normal day to day state -we are both professional workers, not students and the house is well looked after.


Sorry this is so rambling but some impartial advise as to how to deal with this would help me figure out how I can take this forward with the least aggravation.

Many thanks

westminster
19-03-2010, 13:15 PM
We were promised new tenancy contracts would be sent to us but these have never eventuated with my landlady saying to me several times in calls that we were still covered by the old contract in the interim.

This is correct, assuming you originally had a fixed term assured shorthold tenancy in England/Wales, with rent less than £2,083.33 pcm. When the fixed term expires, and T remains in occupation, it automatically becomes a periodic tenancy. Terms the same as before except for notice.


The bond was returned from the agency to myself in September last year and has been left in a separate bank account of mine untouched until such time as I could view and sign any new contracts and then transfer this to a relevant tenancy deposit scheme.
Really the deposit should have been passed to the LL for protection when LL & agent severed their contract with each other.


Following giving notice today I have had the most uncomfortable call with her where she has started demanding I immediately start work on the property for viewings (which will happen from late April)
In particular the garden was demanded to be tidied asap ...

She also stated she thinks some of my own property in the house "looks scruffy"
You have no obligation to tidy up anything for viewings. She has no right whatsoever to make such demands.


Further more she has purchased new sofas for her house and now wants to place 2 excess sofas into our flat this weekend as she has nowhere to store them. We could possibly accommodate one at a stretch but not two (on top of the one existing) however it will be a squeeze but she was adamant I should take it "as she doesn't want things to go to solicitors and get nasty".
Nor do you have any obligation to store the LL's belongings. Ignore the threat of legal action - her demands are absurd and it's a completely empty threat.



Finally I have just received an email from her demanding the bond and that I sign new contracts for the remaining two months period.

She can't force you to or demand you sign anything. I would not hand over the deposit; given her imperious attitude she is likely not to protect it, and to withhold it when you leave, which would mean you'd have to issue a claim against her to get it back. Why create the hassle for yourself?


Should I sign any new contract she sends and should I transfer the bond with only the two months remaining ?
Strongly recommend you don't.

You don't actually need to do anything, but in your position I would probably send a polite but firm letter refusing all demands and pointing out that you are entitled to exclusive possession and quiet enjoyment of the rental property for the duration of the tenancy.

I also suggest you read a thread (link here (http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=26719)) regarding LL's right of access. (Note that the last part of the first paragraph should read "I do not think it is in fact the law.") It's quite long but worth it, as it's a complex issue - but basically, don't assume that the landlord can come and go for viewings as she pleases.

worriedtenant
19-03-2010, 14:05 PM
Westminster: Thank you very much for that, it really has helped settle me down somewhat. It was a pretty nasty shock which has left me very shaken after thinking I was helping her out by giving as much notice as we have.

I believe you are 100% correct regarding the bond not likely to be returned if I hand it over, several of the neighbours have intimated I would experience problems with her.

I'll read the right of access details which I am concerned about, strangely on the call she said her husband had been in the house but I am unsure if she meant while we were there or on an unannounced visit. I certainly wouldn't put it past them to come in.

Thanks again !!

westminster
19-03-2010, 14:52 PM
I'll read the right of access details which I am concerned about, strangely on the call she said her husband had been in the house but I am unsure if she meant while we were there or on an unannounced visit. I certainly wouldn't put it past them to come in.

You are entitled to change the locks, so long as you keep the original lock and reinstate it before you leave (because that is the LL's property). I recommend you consider this in the circumstances, so that you have control over the viewings.

Some locks can apparently be changed quite easily by just changing the inner barrel, as opposed to the entire lock. This is also a better option because it won't cause any damage to the door/doorframe.

matthew_henson
19-03-2010, 15:15 PM
You are entitled to change the locks, so long as you keep the original lock and reinstate it before you leave (because that is the LL's property). I recommend you consider this in the circumstances, so that you have control over the viewings.

Some locks can apparently be changed quite easily by just changing the inner barrel, as opposed to the entire lock. This is also a better option because it won't cause any damage to the door/doorframe.

If it a "yale" style lock that you can leave "on the latch" this is very cheap

The new barrel cost about £8 in B&Q and is fitted first by removing two or three screws from the side of lock where the catch is (when the door is open) The lock body then levers off two catchs.

You will see the lock barrel is held on with two screws, simply undo and using the old screws fit the new barrel.

Hook the lock back on over the new barrel and out the screws back in

A 5 minute job

A mortice lock is more challenging and more expensive and sadly they are not standard sizes so you have to try and buy the same manufacturer. They range from £16 for cheap ERA branded lock to £35 for a Chubb lock

worriedtenant
19-03-2010, 16:44 PM
Thank you both again !! :)

I'd obviously rather not go down the path of changing locks but I will consider it and do have a friend who is a locksmith who could pop over so we could at least say it was professionally done.

Just out of interest if she demands to do a property inspection where do we stand ? Last time we were there for well over an hour while she was and it felt more like she was checking up what we had in the property rather than looking for any maintenance issues.

matthew_henson
19-03-2010, 17:08 PM
She must give 24 hours notice and the purpose is to allow her to meet her repair obligations. Arrange a time and place a time constraint on the inspection (state you are going out or something) if she overstays her welcome ask her to leave, if she doesn't I believe she is guilty of aggrevated trespass and you should call the police.

westminster
19-03-2010, 17:15 PM
I'd obviously rather not go down the path of changing locks but I will consider it and do have a friend who is a locksmith who could pop over so we could at least say it was professionally done.
You don't have to inform the landlord of the change of locks, but remember you'd have to reinstate the original before you leave.


Just out of interest if she demands to do a property inspection where do we stand ? Last time we were there for well over an hour while she was and it felt more like she was checking up what we had in the property rather than looking for any maintenance issues.
It's the same position as any other access, as per the thread I linked to before.

The landlord's request must be reasonable - if, for example, she wanted to do a check every week, you'd be entitled to refuse, because such over-frequent visits would probably breach your quiet enjoyment.

Whereas a six monthly inspection would be reasonable. You could still refuse, in which case she'd have to get a court order to allow her to gain access - but you might then have to pay for her legal costs if you'd been unreasonable in your refusal.

But the landlord has potentially a lot more to lose by unreasonably insisting on gaining access against the tenant's wishes than the tenant has by unreasonably refusing access. A tenant might, for example, bring a claim of illegal harassment and/or breach of quiet enjoyment against the landlord. It's highly inadvisable for a landlord to gain access against the express wishes of the tenant, even for something as reasonable as carrying out a gas safety inspection.