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Apr, 2014

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  1. #1

    Default Break Clause between Tenants - handling the deposit?

    Hi there,

    I am a tenant in a shared flat with a friend of mine and we both share the tenancy contract.

    During December we had a running series of disagreements and everything got pretty heated, and rather than run and run - we had a chat and agreed that he would take advantage of our break clause and move out from the 1st of Feb, and I would stay on and find a new housemate to live with.

    We discussed the matter with our landlord and everything seems pretty much fine except how we handle the deposit - our landlord has advised us that the deposit will remain with herself and it will be up to me to refund my housemate his share. (and the person who moves in will transfer their share of the deposit into my account)

    All of which seems fair enough and I've checked that I can afford everything before making the decision to part ways with my housemate - however my housemate has taken everything pretty badly and has not exactly been reliable in paying bills in past; often the case has been that he could not afford a particular bill and so I pay it off until he could pay me back.

    All of which seemed sensible at the time, but now it leaves me in a strange position - when it comes to refunding the deposit, I am concerned about how I manage 'subtracting' money that I have effectively loaned him by paying these bills.

    So say for our internet as example which is in my name and I've have paid for with my housemate saying he would pay me back but has not yet and now probably has no intention of paying - am I at liberty just to deduct the amount from his deposit. I have emails between the two of us when we setup the arrangement with O2 agreeing both to pay, but seems a bit dodgy beyond that. Obviously the internet is a fairly small amount, but we also have a similar issue over council tax (which is in both our names) and this is a larger amount.

    I suppose the reason for all this, is that my housemate has taken things pretty badly and occasionally lashes out threatening legal action against me and some of his former friends for different reasons - and concerning the deposit, the legal position for me refunding his deposit seems wobbly at best for both of us.

    My thought was to agree whatever deductions for any unsettled bills and try and get something in writing that we can both sign up to - but working on the basis that I doubt he will sign anything and probably try to fight for his full deposit back regardless of any previous or current bills, at what point does he have a case for taking things further.

    If anyone has any advice on that - I would be very grateful as I really want to put an end to this and get on with my life at this point!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Yorkshire
    Posts
    24,592

    Default

    Remember that your friend can only unilaterally operate the break clause with your agreement and goodwill. It seems to me that you are doing him a huge favour here, since if you were not allowing him out of the tenancy early, he would continue to be equally liable for the rent for the rest of the fixed term.

    In the circumstances I would not put up with any nonsense from him!

    Perhaps write down a list of all the joint expenses for the property (e.g. rent, bills, broadband, council tax - everything, since you moved in. Then make a list of everything you have paid and everything he has paid.

    He owes you half the difference, plus the whole cost of any expenses/fees associated with getting a new tenant in , plus half the cost of any damages which you are jointly responsible for so far and half the cost of utility and other sharede bills up to the point when he moves out. (These may need to be estimated at this point, or readings taken now and amount calculated).

    Write it all down. Get him to agree to it before you sign anything to release him from the tenancy.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks, thats good advice - having lists of everything that I've paid and then he has then refunded or not refunded me is a good way to go.

    We've already made the commitment to our landlord that I will stay on and he will leave, thankfully in the letter I sent to the landlord I said we would come to an agreement on all the outstanding and current bills so hopefully that will cover me if any unpleasantness happens.

    My main thought is if I say that he owes me a unpaid £60 for the internet and a unpaid £100 for council tax - he disputes this or decides not to pay it, and I then take it from his deposit when I refund it; am I on safe legal ground?

    The chap in question has threatened me on four separate occasions with legal action, and even threatened a friend of mine as well - and as I know little about the legality of how this break-clause should work, I want to make absolutely sure that nothing I do warrants this.

    In the real-world I know that none of this will ever go to court or go legal as nothing has really happened - but the threats are stressful and so I want to make sure I do nothing to encourage them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Yorkshire
    Posts
    24,592

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by paulm View Post
    Thanks, thats good advice - having lists of everything that I've paid and then he has then refunded or not refunded me is a good way to go.

    We've already made the commitment to our landlord that I will stay on and he will leave, thankfully in the letter I sent to the landlord I said we would come to an agreement on all the outstanding and current bills so hopefully that will cover me if any unpleasantness happens.

    My main thought is if I say that he owes me a unpaid £60 for the internet and a unpaid £100 for council tax - he disputes this or decides not to pay it, and I then take it from his deposit when I refund it; am I on safe legal ground?

    The chap in question has threatened me on four separate occasions with legal action, and even threatened a friend of mine as well - and as I know little about the legality of how this break-clause should work, I want to make absolutely sure that nothing I do warrants this.

    In the real-world I know that none of this will ever go to court or go legal as nothing has really happened - but the threats are stressful and so I want to make sure I do nothing to encourage them.
    I think you are wise to want to do everything legally, but I honestly don't think you have anything to fear (other than his bad temper) if you tell him that you do not intend to subsidise his half of the financial commitment for the tenancy from which you, very kindly, are releasing him early.

    If he does not agree to your keeping what he owes you from the deposit, then you could call his bluff and say, sorry, the deal's off, his name stays on the TA - and let the LL chase him for the rest of the rent. The fact that you have told the LL otherwise does not make it not legally binging on you (I don't think, anyway!)

    If you don't want the stress of that, you could deduct what he owes from the deposit anyway, since what is he going to sue you for? If you present the tenancy accounts clearly and accurately, I would be surprised if any court upheld his claim.

    He sounds a bit of a spoiled brat, if you don't mind my saying so.

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks, thats a big help and a bit of weight off my mind.

    It's just a shame really, we were good friends and there is always two sides to a disagreement - but after xmas I just decided that I couldn't carry on living with him, (I was originally going to be the one moving out, but something changed his mind) and unfortunately he has carried much of our disagreement into how he is dealing with the tenancy.

    Touchwood it will get sorted out without too much fuss!

    Thanks again.

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