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Moving on Tues, Housing benefit application accepted, landlady just cancelled tenancy. What do I do, pls?

(177 Posts)
firstchoice Fri 29-Aug-14 21:34:24

I have been arranging the rental of a flat (previously used for holiday lettings).
I originally informed the landlady I would be on benefits but should be able to arrange a guarantor.
It has dragged on a bit. Landlady abroad all summer.
It then became clear I was going to struggle to get a guarantor.
Landlady not thrilled (understandably) but said to 'press on' anyway.

She sent me a signed witnessed Short Assured Contract for me to sign last week.
I did so and went to Council, gave them copy, and all paperwork for Housing Benefit and HB granted and due to start on Tues (Moving Day). Also did a 'change of circs' re my benefits (separating from H). Kids due to change school on Weds too. Moving Scotland to England. So a lot of upheaval. Separation, over Border, New schools, new home - the lot!

Yesterday, landlady said she didn't feel secure enough without guarantor and wishes to terminate our agreement. I have offered to try to arrange a family member to provide a guarantor letter / credit checks before Tues but she says, no, time was of essence, and it's too late.

What do I do please?
Am devastated.
Also, how do I stop the HB and the Benefits changes????
Will I be in trouble if they start paying me and I've not been able to move in?

noideawottoget Fri 29-Aug-14 21:44:46

i dont know how it works, but i am pretty sure that once the tenancy agreement is signed she cant cancel just like that

DancingDinosaur Fri 29-Aug-14 21:47:18

Go to landlord zone for advice. But I'm certain she's not allowed to do that after the contracts have been signed.

Cornflakesnmilk Fri 29-Aug-14 21:49:15

How about checking the Shelter website?

scotland.shelter.org.uk/

firstchoice Fri 29-Aug-14 21:58:14

Yes, will get onto Shelter when they open on Monday, thank you.

Just awful over weekend not knowing if this is saveable?

Christ, what a mess...

Cornflakesnmilk Fri 29-Aug-14 22:03:07

I can only begin to imagine how awful the situation is for you. Could you post in Legal as well?

I have a feeling that if you had both signed the Contract then it is binding but I don't know for certain unfortunately.

I'm sorry you're wkend is going to be ruined with worry. I'm sure Shelter and the CAB/Council will be able to advise on Monday. x

Cornflakesnmilk Fri 29-Aug-14 22:03:20

*your, not you're

firstchoice Fri 29-Aug-14 22:05:29

thanks, cornflakes.

She did say only yesterday if I could come up with a guarantor over weekend she would go ahead still. Then she emailed to say, no, too risky, please return contracts shock

Shallan Fri 29-Aug-14 22:06:47

Was the tenancy agreement signed and dated? If it was just signed, then it's not legally binding on either of you.

If it was signed and dated, then in legal terms the tenancy has been "completed", so it is binding on you both and she can't just back out. Obviously in practice she can refuse to hand over the keys, but that would be in breach of contract and you could sue her for your losses as a result of her breach. If you take a firm line with her that the tenancy exists and cannot be cancelled, she may back down.

firstchoice Fri 29-Aug-14 22:11:00

Yes, 2 copies.

She signed and dated it her end (London) and it was signed by a witness too.
I signed and dated it my end (Scotland) and it was witnessed (by my H).

I then gave a copy to the Council to photocopy for HB.

Landlady told me to give her 'her' copy when I (was due to) see her at the property Tues at 12 for key handover. Also to give her deposit and 1st months rent then too.

firstchoice Fri 29-Aug-14 22:14:31

Now she has sent email saying:

'conditions not met in timely manner'
(contract dated 17 August)
but no requirement in contract (or separate papers) for guarantor

'So please return copies of contract as this matter is closed'

firstchoice Fri 29-Aug-14 22:15:58

I might report this and ask to be moved to legal but please can people keep replying meantime as I am so worried:

1. about the non move
2. about the mess with HB and benefits now.

queenofthepirates Fri 29-Aug-14 22:26:10

I think you need some legal advice but I would suggest you contact her tomorrow and point out that you have signed the contracts and as a result, have incurred considerable costs. You will of course be asking her to reimburse these costs as you acted in good faith. Point out that you will be forwarding an invoice for these costs (removal van, the time you will need to take off work to find a new home, cost of childcare whilst you find alternative schools, get imaginative). A refusal to pay can be met with a sigh and tell her you will see her in court. Claims like this can go through the small claims court quite cheaply.

This may spark her conscience and allow you to move in. I wish you well.

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Fri 29-Aug-14 22:27:11

Hi OP. You have a valid contract; she waived the guarantor by not including it in the contract. Tell her you will be at the property at 12 on Tuesday to take possession, and should she not hand over you will take legal action.

Do NOT give her the copy with her signature under any circumstances; it's evidence.

firstchoice Fri 29-Aug-14 22:35:07

crikey!

I see why she is so keen to get the contracts back now?
Do I maybe have a leg to stand on here?

I am not working atm (thus the benefits issue).
I am disabled and in receipt of Employment support allowance.

I think she thinks I owe her money, actually...

During the summer we were in the village for new school induction day.
I emailed her in <foreign country too specific to state> and asked if I might stay the night at the house, so the children could know where they were moving to - as she had no holiday makers booked in until the weekend
She said yes, but need to pay me. I said OK, how much. She said don't worry we'll sort it when I get back.

The beds were not made up, so we used the sleeping bags we had with us (should have been camping but weather too bad). We ate out and didn't use shower as couldn't work it out blush. I tidied up before we left and emptied the bin of apple core and tissues.

She sent me an email asking for £100 plus £16 cleaners fees last night sad

DancingDinosaur Fri 29-Aug-14 23:19:16

You do have a leg to stand on. And do not return her contract. I would be sending her a bill for loses. But landlordzone is your friend. Lots of amazing advice there.

firstchoice Fri 29-Aug-14 23:22:13

Landlordzone?

Ok. thanks dancingdinosaur I'll google it.

Just v panicky about whether to cancel housing benefit on Monday or not?

Becca19962014 Fri 29-Aug-14 23:31:44

Did the landlord remove the part in the contract about you requiring a guarantor? When I went to sign a contract having been told I didn't need one I was instructed by CAB and shelter to get all parts referring to a guarantor crossed out and signed by both parties prior to signing to prove it wasn't necessary. Llandlord were not happy about changing the contract but didn't have a choice.

You need to check the contract you have to ensure all parts referring to guarantor have been removed. Otherwise you may have a problem.

I'm not an expert or anything like that I'm just relating information I was given by shelter and CAB after being told I didn't need a guarantor when it was usually needed for someone in my position.

rainbowinmyroom Fri 29-Aug-14 23:36:47

God, what a bitch she is!

firstchoice Fri 29-Aug-14 23:43:39

Thanks, Becca
I have read the contract.
there is NOTHING in it about needing a guarantor. Not mentioned.

There is no notice period either hmm

rainbow I think she is really nice, as I originally asked in the Spring but then wanted to wait till now re schools and she was patient about that (but then she was renting it to holiday makers during that time anyway)

but - she is playing hardball now and I am scared silly I am going to get in deep trouble with HB etc. if I have to cancel it all?

I don't want to go live where I am so clearly not wanted but it has REALLY screwed things up for me. Now I have to stay with an H who is actively unpleasant and the kids have to stay in their awful school.

DancingDinosaur Fri 29-Aug-14 23:44:48

No don't cancel it yet. Just don't spend it in case you need to repay it.

MrsTuppence Fri 29-Aug-14 23:57:21

You are protected here, OP. A signed contract is enforceable on both of you as log as it's an assured short hold tenancy agreement (of at least 6 months). Even if she wanted you to move out at the end of that initial lease period she would STILL need to give you two months' notice. It is utterly unacceptable of her to be trying to back out, and she will know (if she has any kind of brain) that she cannot simply renege on a signed contract - as soon as she signed and dated it and sent it to you, then the ball was in your court.
This will be horrid interpersonally, probably, but you need to make it crystal clear to her that you will report her to the authorities if she tries to back out of letting the place to you. You will probably need to resign yourself to having a difficult relationship with her for however long you end up staying, but don't let the awkwardness put you off.
(I'm a landlord myself, so am aware of the responsibilities I have and the rights my tenants have).
Good luck, and try not to worry. Especially don't worry about the benefits part of things just now.

Becca19962014 Sat 30-Aug-14 00:03:21

Okay, you really really need to get your contract looked at. Don't cancel anything right now.

I know you live in Scotland but as you are moving to England I can't think of any reason why you cannot phone shelter England. You will need your contract when you phone them and to explain you are moving to England so your contract is an English one, otherwise they won't be able to help as Scottish housing law is different.

The number is 0808 800 4444
They are open from 8am to 5pm on weekends.

Please call them. I've found them to be really helpful.

It also means someone can advise you before Monday who is an expert and I think that's what you really need, of course we want to support you here and will but I think you need some expert advice!

firstchoice Sat 30-Aug-14 00:04:00

mrstuppence

thank you for this info.

She signed both copies, dated, witnessed. 6m assured shorthold tenancy.
she asked me to sign and return one copy to her.
I signed one and took it to HB.
By the next day she was saying: no, unless you get guarantor now, so I didn't send my copy back to her or pay deposit as I wasn't sure what was happening.
Now today she is saying: no, even if you can get guarantor in time.

I am not sure I can cope with living somewhere I am so unwelcome.
It's a tiny village and she knows just about everyone, including the Govorners of the School and the local GP. Her best friend lives across the road. If she spread bad tidings about me it would completely mess things up for us there. sad

She is a landlady in London too, so she must realise, surely?

firstchoice Sat 30-Aug-14 00:09:14

oh, Becca thankyou for that weekend number!

will call it asap

thanks

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