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Urgent help needed from landlord, estate agent, anyone with tenant law knowledge

(42 Posts)
Biomedical Fri 05-Jun-20 15:41:28

Hi,

Ex moved out, has ‘surrendered the ownership’ of our tenancy deposit and agreed for it to be moved over (as it was mostly my money anyway). Asked landlord for a single tenancy, signed the agreement today. They asked for £99 fee which I thought was fair.

Then I realised Ex-DP hasn’t paid gas and electric for over a year(?!) even though I have him my half... they’re understanding about the situation but I have to pay £200 a month towards the arrears and my normal monthly usage or face court action / disconnection. I had a feeling the £99 fee was illegal as the new Tenant Fee Act 2019 applies now. It says no fee for new tenancies, capped at £50 for changes ie different tenant, although I was a tenant previously I don’t know which would apply but happy to pay £50 if required, landlord says £99.

This is an illegal fee isn’t it? What can I do? I know it’s only £49 difference but with the mess he’s left me in that could be a weeks petrol and food?!

OP’s posts: |
CupcakesK Fri 05-Jun-20 15:58:45

Sorry to hear about the mess he’s left you in. I’m no expert, but with regard to the utility bills - whose name were they in? You should take a reading and close that account (from when both of you were tenants) and then open a new one in your name. You should be able to give the gas/electric companies his address so they will chase him for the debt (or at least half of it).

Windyatthebeach Fri 05-Jun-20 16:01:02

Send the utility company a copy of your joint tenancy. Accept 50 % of the bill. Give his new address for them to chase for his share.
Ime this can work..

HotChoc10 Fri 05-Jun-20 16:01:57

Do you have a record (bank statements) which show you paying him for the electric previously? Could pay £80 one off to take him to small claims court for the arrears?

FlamingDorito Fri 05-Jun-20 16:02:02

I can't give you any proper advice about the fee, I hope someone will be here shortly to provide that, but in regards to the utilities, are these not in your name as the tenant? (Sorry it seemed from reading your post that you are paying arrears to your landlord/agent for these). If so, they would usually allow you to do a payment plan, I've had to do one for arrears before and it was never £200 a month. More like £50. Have they said no to this?

Pipandmum Fri 05-Jun-20 16:04:50

As landlord I pay fees now so do not think you should be charged any - surely it's just taking your ex's name if the tenancy so hardly a lot of work! If I use an agent I pay, if I find the tenant and do my own contract i don't charge anything.

CuriousaboutSamphire Fri 05-Jun-20 16:10:47

First things first... Those bills. Whose name are they in and who has set up that repayment schedule and is threatening you with court action?

Now the tenancy fees. What date did the new tenancy start? The just you one...

But yes, you are right, admin fees specifically for changes to the tenancy are capped at £50.and have been since June 2019.

Biomedical Fri 05-Jun-20 16:17:57

The gas and electric was with Bulb, I explained the situation and they said that to keep the property connected I had to pay off the arrears and to avoid court action the arrears have to be paid within 12 months, I asked if it could be split and she said to stop things going further she would have to set up repayments there and then on the phone and ask someone higher to call me back over the next few days to see if I can ‘get away’ with paying half.

I’m not sure how small claims works but he doesn’t have any money (living with his mum again, no job, also looking likely he could go to prison soon) so doubt I would get anything back?

And it’s a private tenancy direct with the landlord, he has many houses and uses an assistant, they’ve literally sent the same tenancy agreement but with just my name instead of both of us so can’t see how that justifies £99 when the cap at changing a tenancy is £50?

OP’s posts: |
Biomedical Fri 05-Jun-20 16:24:15

Well I signed it today but they dated it the 27th of May

OP’s posts: |
Shamoo Fri 05-Jun-20 16:28:38

I know this doesn’t answer your question, but saying contracts on an earlier date to the date they are signed is fraudulent in England and Wales. You can give a separate effective date (eg you can say this agreement is dated 4 June and is deemed to be effective on 27 May) but you can’t date an agreement with a May date if signed in June.

Shamoo Fri 05-Jun-20 16:28:58

*dating, not saying!

NowYouListenToMeFella Fri 05-Jun-20 16:29:09

If the utility bills were in his name only you shouldn't have to pay them. They are his debt. Are both your names on the bills?

CuriousaboutSamphire Fri 05-Jun-20 16:30:02

Sorry to be pedantic but was your name on those bills?

If not then the Bulb woman is relying on your lack of knowledge.

If it was then she is over reaching in the amount she wants paying each month.

How much is owed? It sounds as though she is asking you to clear be the whole debt in 12 weeks. That is not a reasonable requested, on the face of it.

KaptenKrusty Fri 05-Jun-20 16:32:52

Yeah as others said- is your name on the bill?

Let bulb cut you off if not and get a new provider!

Tell them that the bill payer is no longer at this address and to stop contacting you!

Travellor Fri 05-Jun-20 16:48:05

Check the linked page from the Citizens Advice public site; if you were a joint tenant, then you are liable for energy used in the period regardless of whose name is on the bill.

www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/problems-with-your-energy-bill/find-out-if-youre-responsible-for-paying-an-energy-bill/

CuriousaboutSamphire Fri 05-Jun-20 16:51:52

I can't make your link work but I thought that was council tax!

Off to have a look...

CodenameVillanelle Fri 05-Jun-20 16:53:12

If the cap is £50 then he should charge you £50. Have you politely queried this with them?

CuriousaboutSamphire Fri 05-Jun-20 16:57:15

I can only find CA advice that names bill payee is responsible unless the utility provider can show that they signed up on behalf of others... Which hasn't happened, as far as we know!

So the question stands... Whose name was on the bills?

Swimmingwiththebees Fri 05-Jun-20 16:59:47

Biomedical

Well I signed it today but they dated it the 27th of May

The date could be your issue as the change only came in for existing agreements signed before 1 June 2019 from 1 June 2020. I'm assuming the original agreement was signed before 1 June 2019?

It it probably worth querying still as the guidance isn't the clearest around whether it is the date that you sign the change that matters or the date it is effective.

PegasusReturns Fri 05-Jun-20 16:59:54

If his name is the only ones on the bill then you’re not liable and the utilities rep is talking nonsense.

CuriousaboutSamphire Fri 05-Jun-20 17:03:58

Ooh! Yes, good shout swimming If they set it up as a change and not a new tenancy.

OP. You need to know if your tenancy is a new one. If it is then they need to return the deposit and start a brand new one too.

Its more complicated than just changing a name!

Travellor Fri 05-Jun-20 17:10:05

Not sure why the link doesn't work; copy of first section of linked page.

t doesn’t matter if you’re not named on the bill - you’re still responsible for paying for any energy you used while you lived at a property.

However, you must have been ‘legally responsible’ for the property - ie your name was on a tenancy agreement or other legal contract. If it wasn’t, a supplier can’t prove you lived at the property.

Those who want to check go Citizens Advice, Click Consumer on the Blue Headings, go down page to Your Energy Supply, then Problems where first section is re liability for bill.

CuriousaboutSamphire Fri 05-Jun-20 17:11:51

I'm on my phone/the app travellor pain in the bum as far as links go.

Ravenclawgirl Fri 05-Jun-20 17:19:09

she said to stop things going further she would have to set up repayments there and then on the phone and ask someone higher to call me back over the next few days to see if I can ‘get away’ with paying half

She tricked you to get the agreement so she could hit her targets and/or make commission.

Take advice from CAB or someone like Step change, then offer them an affordable amount. It's best to offer a lower amount then overpay than offer a higher one and default.

CodenameVillanelle Fri 05-Jun-20 17:19:37

The tenancy will probably be a new one. You can't just remove someone's name from a joint tenancy (I think HMOs are different) so a new sole tenancy would have been drawn up.

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