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odbo
22-02-2008, 06:14 AM
Hi, I'm in a real pickle.

I'm a few weeks behind with rent (4) which I was going to
settle Saturday as my landlord insists in being paid in cash
and I work full-time.

I have not received any calls or letters from the landlord until
yesterday evening when I found a small claims court bill
pushed under my door.
The total amout is £1324 of which £140 are for the letter and
court costs.

The last time I paid the landlord, I neglected to get him to
sign in his book that he had received the funds. I recognise
this was my own stupid fault as I was going on trust.

That aside the landlord is now seeking to change the locks
thereby evicting me before a court hearing and without
any notice.

I know this is illegal but having read through my contract,
I found the following term

'I, Mr X, AGREE NOT TO TAKE ANY LEGAL ACTION AGAINST THE LANDLORD(S) OR HIS/THEIR AGENT(S) IF MY DOOR's LOCK IS CHANGED, IN SO DOING, PREVENTING ME TO ENTER INTO THE PROPERTY. THIS ACTION WILL BE JUSTIFIED IF MY RENT ARREARS OR OTHER OUTSTANDING; ie bills, arrears charges, cleaning charges etc., AMOUNT TO THE EQUIVALENT OF TWO WEEKS RENT OR MORE. I ALSO AGREE TO PAY THE LANDLORD £75 FOR ALL COSTS INCURRED.

Having read read a little of the 'guidance of unfair terms in
tenancy agreements' this looks to certainly tip the balance in favour of the landlord.

Is this legal, please help as I'm afraid to go to work in case
I can't get in again.

Colincbayley
22-02-2008, 08:13 AM
The clause in your AST is not legal/valid ( Your LL just can not change the locks )
Change the locks yourself to stop your LL gaining entry, or let him do it then sue the bugger for illegal eviction.
Speak to your local housing advice office ( Council )

odbo
22-02-2008, 09:45 AM
Thanks Colincbayley

That's what I thought, but I've had to take the day off
work because of this.

jeffrey
22-02-2008, 09:51 AM
odbo:
1. I agree with Colincbayley that the clause is unenforceable. English law does not usually permit the parties to oust the jurisdiction of the courts [cf Archbishop of Canterbury!]
2. Has L served on you any Housing Act 1988 notices, under s.8 or s.21?

odbo
22-02-2008, 09:57 AM
No, I've had no other contact with the LL other than this
served notice.

What I find strange is there's no 'claim number' or 'issue
date' on the form and it came in an evelope with 'served
by hand' written on it.

Isn't the court meant to post a copy to the defendent?

Also this guy's really abusive and shouts at all his tennants.
And there's a clause in the contract about only accepting cash
payments. Which is what caused the delay as the ATM ate my
card this week.

Not to mention the small matter of the £270 he conveniently
forgot to sign and is billing me for again.

Och...

jeffrey
22-02-2008, 10:16 AM
No, I've had no other contact with the LL other than this
served notice.

What I find strange is there's no 'claim number' or 'issue
date' on the form and it came in an evelope with 'served
by hand' written on it.

Isn't the court meant to post a copy to the defendent?

Also this guy's really abusive and shouts at all his tennants.
And there's a clause in the contract about only accepting cash
payments. Which is what caused the delay as the ATM ate my
card this week.

Not to mention the small matter of the £270 he conveniently
forgot to sign and is billing me for again.

Och...
So he is suing only for debt. He can do that, BUT it has no impact at all on continuance of tenancy- remains in force.

Grange
22-02-2008, 10:27 AM
If it were me I'd be inclined to hope he does evict me, and then claim money back from him for illegal eviction. Best of all, no more living with a seriously dodgy landlord.

odbo
22-02-2008, 11:16 AM
Thanks for the info.

I take full responsibility for late payment but he's behaving
really unreasonably and has not once called or written to
discuss this.

I was wondering if I can counter-claim based on his abusive
and dodgy behaviour. If I could record him, that would be
ideal, this guy goes crazy!

odbo
22-02-2008, 11:41 AM
If it were me I'd be inclined to hope he does evict me, and then claim money back from him for illegal eviction. Best of all, no more living with a seriously dodgy landlord.

LOL, with HIS temper, I'll be surprised if he doesn't.

I really don't want to abuse landlords but I don't see why I should
be treated like this and pay double for the privelige!

Pobinr
22-02-2008, 11:47 AM
your tenancy will be shorthold assured by default. Your LL must obey the law on SA tenancies. If he threatens you or changes the locks or evicts you without a court order for eviction by bailif then call the police.

jeffrey
22-02-2008, 11:51 AM
your tenancy will be shorthold assured by default. Your LL must obey the law on SA tenancies. If he threatens you then call the police.
Assuming that you mean Assured Shorthold Tenancy: yes, but that is not the question.
L has not served any s.8/s.21 Notice so tenancy will continue. L's debt recovery action is irrelevant.

odbo
17-03-2008, 16:01 PM
Well, he's just been 'round and changed the locks,
I was in at the time so I'm not locked out but neither
can I lock my door, which means I won't be able to
go to work tomorrow.

edit. I think I have a case against these people,

I'm also getting the following taken out of my deposit
as part of the contract

£135 contract/insurance
£60 cleaning
£85 cutlery/crockery (2 plates, 2 knives/forks and 2 mugs)

terryok
17-03-2008, 17:02 PM
Well, he's just been 'round and changed the locks,
I was in at the time so I'm not locked out but neither
can I lock my door, which means I won't be able to
go to work tomorrow.

edit. I think I have a case against these people,

I'm also getting the following taken out of my deposit
as part of the contract

£135 contract/insurance
£60 cleaning
£85 cutlery/crockery (2 plates, 2 knives/forks and 2 mugs)

I would pretend I have been locked out as you would have been in reality had you not got home in time, contact the police the council housing department and shelter make a mega saga out of it and get LL the prison sentence he deserves!!

odbo
17-03-2008, 17:43 PM
Thanks Terryok. But what about the 2 weeks rent (£270)
I paid him that he's basically saying he's going to charge
me for unless I play by his rules? I can't prove I paid it
to him, my own dumb fault for going on trust.

Ericthelobster
17-03-2008, 18:08 PM
Thanks Terryok. But what about the 2 weeks rent (£270)
I paid him that he's basically saying he's going to charge
me for unless I play by his rules? I can't prove I paid it
to him, my own dumb fault for going on trust.I wouldn't worry overly about that - now your LL has shown his true colours by changing the locks he's going to have difficulty in proving his honesty to anybody.

Don't quite understand the lock situation - can you get out of the property? ie is it just a yale-type lock?

I'd seriously consider leaving the property now and locking yourself out, and calling the police, as advised above - he'll be in deep do-do. (Are you sure he didn't/doesn't know you are inside?)

odbo
18-03-2008, 07:54 AM
He knows I was inside, we sat chatting while he changed
it. He knew he couldn't lock me in, as that would be
kidnapping, he's not that daft. So he left the door to my
flat unlocked and didn't give me the key. He said he would
return today to lock it.
He didn't knock, just let himself in with a key!

There is another door downstairs to which I do have the
key but I still don't want to leave my flat unlocked.

He said he spends more time in court than a lawyer and
has made people bankrupt. I think the agency mostly deals
with foreign people (found through london flatfinder) so
he's used to getting his own way. I once saw him chuck out
a young lad because he didn't like his father. He shouts,
bawls and threatens them.

I am only a month short on my rent but there is another
clause in the contract that says if you are more than 7 days
late, they will initiate court proceedings at considerable
cost.

The whole settup is dodgy from electricity cards you have
to buy directly from the landlord to having to pay fortnightly,
in cash (when you're working full time, this isn't easy).

edit - Also, how can I prove that he has changed the lock?
He put in an old, similar model. He might just say that
he changed it and gave me the key.

thank you again for your kind help with this.

odbo
18-03-2008, 09:03 AM
The lock is one where you need a key to both open and close it.

Ericthelobster
18-03-2008, 09:21 AM
Phone the police now and tell him what he's done, and also tell them about the threatening behaviour and how you're worried.

Grange
18-03-2008, 10:21 AM
Better off phoning the council's tenancy relations department.

Do you have a friend where you could stay the night? You would be MUCH better off letting him change the locks and taking it from there.

He's probaby also guilty of harrassment. He deserves to go to jail and will if you get the Council on side.

odbo
18-03-2008, 12:23 PM
Well, he just came round to clean the room for viewing
and we had a very reasonable conversation.

I'm sure he's aware of the legal situation and knows that
I am now (with thanks).

He has agreed to let me pay back my arrears in installments,
he was actually really nice about it?!

I would only take legal action if the situation became untennable
(scuse pun). Tho' I have lost a fews days of work because of
this and that's money out of my pocket!

It is a clear cut harrassment case I think but is it worth it to
take action? I got so many problems at the moment.

Ericthelobster
18-03-2008, 13:30 PM
So has he given you a new key?

Whatever you decide to do I suggest you at least make a detailed note now of all events that happened, with times and dates, that you might want to rely on later.

Bel
18-03-2008, 14:14 PM
If you had called the police at least they would have logged the incident.

As Grange says; local authority housing tenancy relations officer is a very good port of call for illegal eviction; they can mediate and prosecute the LL.

I would be loking for compensation; write a letter to LL with your costs and see what he says.