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tayh
09-10-2011, 22:00 PM
Hi everyone,

I have a slight dilemma and I would appreciate any feedback and guidance on the matter. I have a student property (5 bed) that I have rented out using a letting agency. The current tenants are threatening to move out of the tenancy as they believe it is not habitable. They cite dirty carpets, slight condensation patches on the wall and broken fittings and fixtures as their reasons for leaving. They also state that the letting agents did not give them an inventory for them to check and sign prior to moving in. The tenants, however, did view the property prior to signing the tenancy agreement.

I spoke to the tenants during the second week that they moved in (mid September) verbally confirming to them that I cannot validate if the damage and repairs were caused by them or the tenants prior to them and that this would have to be checked with the letting agency. Once established, the repairs would be conducted. This has now been confirmed with the letting agency.

I have recently conducted repairs such as installation of a bathroom extractor fan, clearance of the rear garden, installation of door handles andconfirmation that there is no prevalent damp in the property and many minor improvements. During this, the tenants have advised that this isn't enough and the work was completed too late (they wrote a complaint regarding the property three weeks after moving in. They're also claiming they want their rent back and that I cannot claim any monies from their deposits held by the tenancy deposit scheme. Many of the minor repairs that I had done have now been undone - ripped off and broken. It appears as if they're wanting to give me reasons for force an eviction, or for them to complain of a landlord not fulfilling obligations.

Should I write them a letter advising them of their contractual obligations?

Is the letting agency wholly accountable for the state of the property and for not making them (and providing me) with an inventory?

Do I have legal grounds for civil action given that I have attempted to rectify the repair situation by making improvements within a reasonable period of time?

Thanks!

Lisa

Snorkerz
09-10-2011, 22:14 PM
Can you give some more background as to why the property wasn't made fit for the tenants before hey moved in - is this an agent issue?

tayh
09-10-2011, 22:25 PM
The letting agents claim that the property was fit for purpose and that they have inventory proof, even though they didn't make the current tenants sign it. The current tenants dispute this. I cannot validate either claim. However, one of the tenants did pay half rent and live in the property prior to the other tenants joining him in September.

I have recently tried to send a cleaner to the property to resolve the issues, but the tenants have advised that there is no point, as they'll be out soon - neither I nor the letting agents have this in writing.

I have kept a log of work performed, costs, and a timeline for the situation. Is there anything else I can do or inform them of, before they depart?

Additional FYI: On my recent visit to the property I have discovered cigarettes and ash, beer cans, pizza and the like thrown on to the floors of the property. The current tenants are certainly not treating it well - yet they claim it's not habitable. I have taken dated photographic evidence of this.

bhaal
09-10-2011, 22:46 PM
Do you have guarantors and if so what kind of document did they sign?

tayh
09-10-2011, 22:52 PM
One of the tenants' father is a guarantor, yes. I will have to confirm the exact nature of the signed document tomorrow. I have informed the tenants that I cannot surrender the tenancy due to the current climate - I cannot find replacement tenants (students) as most of them have already booked accommodation. The tenants also declined to find replacements themselves and have objected to a reduction of their rent; my way of compensating for their experience and demonstrating good faith.

bhaal
09-10-2011, 23:12 PM
Remind the tenants of their obligations and that if they break them you will have to take them to court. This will severely damage their credit rating in the future and show up on the checks that any future employer will run. You should copy in the guarantor, as they may be more willing to listen to a parent than you.

If the document that the guarantor signed wasn't a Deed then you may have a problem enforcing it. However, it doesn't sound like you should have any issues if you can make the tenants listen to reason so I would suggest opening a line of communication with the guarantor, but couched, at least at first, in a way that seeks to find a mutually acceptable solution rather than threatening court action.

tayh
09-10-2011, 23:19 PM
The root cause of the problem appears to be the guarantor. Prior to him visiting the premises (his son), works to be performed were verbally discussed. The guarantor appears to have incited the tenants into vacating and terminating the agreement prematurely. He wrote the letting agency a letter expressing his dissatisfaction with the state of the premises - this letter was forwarded to me a week later (when I started immediate remediable work). The tenants were informed that the remedial work wouldn't be instant, and that both I and they would need to liaise with the letting agency to establish the previous and current condition of the property.

I have tried to reason with the tenants on several occasions, but they're unwilling to listen or come to some agreement. In terms of legal action, does the verbal communication and verbal agreements with the tenants count for anything, or will proof of letters, documented evidence, be the only acceptable 'proof'?