View Full Version : Advice on using The Dispute Service
14-04-2010, 17:37 PM
I let my house thru an agent for 12 months from late November 09 - monthly rental £850
The tenants left the property at the end of February saying they could not afford the rent (All rent was paid up to that point) They told me verbally and by text but not by letter that they were leaving
I responded by letterby saying that I was not agreeable to this and if they left it was there own choice
But they left
They also left me short of oil and had erected a satellite system - drilling intom the brickwork etc without consent they also left refuse and belongings and didn't inform me that mould had developed on a wall
I have had to instruct another agent to look for new tenants but after 7 weeks I have had no joy
Understandably I am not keen to give them their deposit back but would like advice on how to construct my claim to the TDS
Should I just try to claim back the £950 (the amount of the deposit) and be happy
Or should I claim the full arrears up to this point 7 weeks plus the bits and bobs for removal of the satellite oil and removing refuse
I am kind of tempted to tell the TDS that I wont claim for the oil and refuse etc as a gesture of goodwill so I come across reasonable - which I am of course!
However I don't want to claim £1500 in arrears and for it all to get messy - nor do I want to claim £950 and for the TDS to say here's £425
How should I play this...?
mind the gap
14-04-2010, 17:43 PM
So your tenants stayed only 3 months out of a 12 month fixed term, and left without agreeing a formal surrender having caused damage for which you will need to claim from their deposit?
Why are you not pursuing them for the whole rent since they stopped paying it - the tenancy has not been ended, has it? They cannot just walk away - a tenancy agreement is legally binding on both sides. They are liable until November as far as I can see. Or have you agreed something to the contrary, in writing?
14-04-2010, 17:55 PM
Second the above, find out where the live and put a claim in the small claims court for the full £7650 plus damages less £950 deposit. You may even get some money back, if not they will have a CCJ to live with.
Again provided you didn't agree to anything else
14-04-2010, 17:56 PM
You can't claim more than the deposit amount from the scheme. For the rest, you'll have to claim via the county court. Also note that, if you lose a dispute decided by the scheme's adjudication, you can still claim again via the c.court.
As MTG says, T is liable for the whole rent to the end of the fixed term, but if you re-let the property, then at that point the T's liability would end.
Do you have the T's new home address, and are they in work?
14-04-2010, 19:19 PM
I wrote them 2 letters - hopefully I haven't put my foot in it by mistakenly agrreing to something I shouldn't have...
"You have told me you wish to vacate the rental property. In doing so you are breaching our 12 month tenancy agreement As landlord I cannot approve of this breach and if you vacate it is fully your choice You have paid until the 26th of February 2010 Staying beyond this time with no payment would lead you into rental arrears
If you do not plan to vacate you must contact me immediately otherwise I will assume you are vacating on 26th of February 2010
Can you please confirm your vacating date in writing to me"
"You have paid the rental until Friday 26th of February I would be grateful if you could have fully moved out by that date, I will meet you at the property on Saturday 27th 9am to go through the inventory and read the oil, electricity and water in your presence
As you will be aware failure to move out on the 26th of February without rental being paid on the 27th of February will lead to a rental arrears. At this point I will inform the Deposit Protection Service and ask a debt collection agency to recover the money owed and as you are aware this will show on your credit history.
I should remind you that you will need to arrange for the electricity and water to be read by British Gas and Anglian water respectively on the 26th of February. BT should be informed to cease the line rental on that date.
Also all of your contents must be cleared from the house and inventory items returned to their original positions.
All items belonging to you in the garden and shed should be taken including those in the drive.
If I do not hear from you by post I will assume you wish to move out on the 26th of February. If you wish to stay you need to discuss things with me immediately."
Could that 2nd letter be construed as allowing them to leave even if I said in the first I wasn't in agreement?
15-04-2010, 11:26 AM
What has happened here is that the tenants said they were leaving. In response you have effectively said: "I'm not having that. Leave on the 26th February."
The tenants left on 26th February. Since then you have been trying to relet. That is inconsistent with the tenancy continuing. Despite anything you may have said, your actions (and it is actions which count) amount to either forfeiture or an acceptance of a surrender. Your second letter is pretty much evidence of your intention or wish to take back control of the property. I do not think you can claim rent for any period after 26th February.
The law is clear here and gives landlords two choices:
1. Maintain the tenancy and keep claiming rent.
2. Take back control of the property and end the tenancy and with it the tenant's obligation to pay rent.
There is no halfway house between the two that allows a landlord to hedge his bets.
15-04-2010, 12:29 PM
You can't claim more than the deposit amount from the scheme. For the rest, you'll have to claim via the county court. Also note that, if you lose a dispute decided by the scheme's adjudication, you can still claim again via the c.court. Is this right? I thought you could only take court action as an alternative to adjudication unless it was on a point of law. Be interested to know.
15-04-2010, 13:53 PM
Is this right? I thought you could only take court action as an alternative to adjudication unless it was on a point of law. Be interested to know.
Sort of, but not quite, from my understanding. Dispute resolution is an alternative to court action and is optional.
If you have a deposit within one of the schemes and a dispute arises, you can use the ADR scheme as long as both parties agree. There is nothing to stop either party using the court process (small claims track presumably) as an alternative to the dispute resolution. I do think that if you go down the ADR route it is binding - you cannot then go and try county court action to see if you fare better there.
A slight quirk of the single claims route though is if you lose contact with the tenant and start the single claims route, the landlord - as part of the T&Cs of the DPS - have to agree to the use the ADR service. If the landlord responds to the single claim paperwork (eg they come out of the woodwork) they are given the option using the single claim process or ignoring it and using the court system. Does not exactly seem fair.
16-04-2010, 18:03 PM
Thanks for the info.
17-04-2010, 18:47 PM
I do think that if you go down the ADR route it is binding - you cannot then go and try county court action to see if you fare better there.
Yes, you can. There was a thread on here where a landlord did just that; lost ADR then went to county court and won (it was at least 6 months ago so I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to find the thread).
Think about it; it's unlikely that a county court judge would defer to an adjudication decision if he felt that decision was legally wrong.
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