A landlord who’s being threatened with a massive rent repayment order has told of his frustration at a court system that is unfairly weighted towards tenants.
Dan Jarvis’s mother is due to appear at a London First Tier Property Tribunal later this month, accused of withholding her former tenants’ deposit, but Jarvis explains he’s determined to make it clear that his family wasn’t at fault.
“These four tenants lived in our three-bedroom flat for three years and moved out a couple of years ago,” he tells LandlordZONE.
“When they left, we found they had totally trashed the house, leaving bed bugs, cigarette burns in carpets and ruined kitchen worktops.
“We were faced with a bill of more than £11,000 for all the repairs. Obviously, we weren’t going to pay back their £2,250 deposit.”
The tenants first – incorrectly and unsuccessfully - alleged that their landlord hadn’t protected their deposit but are now claiming a rent repayment order of £24,000.
They say no repairs were carried out during the time they lived there, which was why the house was in such a bad state.
“My family could have just quietly given them the deposit back to try and prevent them from going to the tribunal, but we felt strongly that they were blackmailing us for the money and wanted to defend ourselves,” adds Jarvis.
“We’re lucky that we have other properties, so are able to pay for a defence, which has already cost about £10,000, but we want to raise the issue as it’s particularly hard on landlords with only one property who can’t afford legal fees.
“Even if you win as a landlord, you can’t claim your costs back, while a tenant can use a no-win, no-fee solicitor - it’s simply not fair.”
The landlords comments are particularly worrying as the Government says it wants to use the Tribunal system to give tenants more rights to challenge rent increases.