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AIBU to refuse to pay for this

26 replies

maryelizabeth71 · 17/06/2017 06:56

My daughter is currently looking for a room to rent.

She saw one last night and alarm bells are ringing for me.

She met the current tenants not the landlord, it is a HMO with 4 bedrooms in central Birmingham.

They told her that the rent is paid in cash that is left for the LL to collect and that the bills (rates / elect / gas / phone / BB and water) come to approx £60 per month each. They each have a utility in their name and collect as a group.

It just feels very dodgy to me and £240 a month for those bills seems low..... am concerned she will move in and they will end up being far higher.

She needs my help to pay the deposit and first month rent. AIBU to say no as I suspect this isnt being done correctly?

OP posts:
EyeHalveASpellingChequer · 17/06/2017 07:01

Presumably if the rent is paid in cash then the deposit won't be protected by the DPS?

Has she seen a tenancy agreement? If the landlord finds out that the tenants are illegally subletting then they could all be evicted.

suffolknclose · 17/06/2017 07:01

YANBU - would be an outright no here from me. Paying rent in cash is just unthinkable.

dentydown · 17/06/2017 07:13

I suppose the landlord could be old school. Do they get a receipt for the rent paid? If not it sounds dodgy.

WomblingThree · 17/06/2017 07:29

I wouldn't touch that with a barge pole. Way too many things that could go wrong. It sounds like an illegal sublet to me. Does it even come up to proper HMO standards regarding things like fire safety?

5moreminutes · 17/06/2017 07:31

If the landlord has initiated this then it probably isn't officially registered as a HOMO and doesn't comply with fire regulations etc. so is all "unofficial". Unlikely to have protected deposit or any recourse to proper tenants rights (such as they are...)

Are there the same number of tenants as rooms? Or do two share a bedroom? If two existing tenants share then they may have moved in together to sub let one room without the landlord knowing.

MakeJam · 17/06/2017 07:36

I can understand your concern. All large HMOs need a licence from the local council. I'd start there and check to see it's legit. Having a utility bill in her sole name is not a good idea as the others could leave and not pay their share. info


Shelter info

londonrach · 17/06/2017 07:48

Id say sublet. Dont touch it as no protection. Keep looking. Dont pay in cash as no paper trail

CatsRidingRollercoasters · 17/06/2017 07:49

Absolutely no way - not even with a bargepole.

OliviaStabler · 17/06/2017 07:59

Is there a tenancy agreement for the room?

maryelizabeth71 · 17/06/2017 08:02

Thank you for your replies, you are all confirming my worries are reasonable.

It's unfortunate as it's in a great location for her but IMO it's just not worth it. The lack of paper trail and the bills arrangement concern me greatly.

She has asked to see a contract so I will be interested to see what that says.

OP posts:
Feelingkenty · 17/06/2017 08:06

Who are the other people living in the house?

I've lived in a set up that had exactly this situation - landlord was old school and wanted the cash, not registered as an HMO, and all bills in someone's name, all bill payments shared between the tenants.

It was a typical Brit/ Aus/ NZ/ SA/ European houseshare and nothing too dodgy going on (apart from the landlords taxes). The only meeting the housemates and non registered HMO is typical of that kind of setup.

I know their are rules re HMOs and tenancies, and minimum H & S requirements (and taxes) etc, I'm just saying it may not be as dodgy as it appears.

PaulDacresFeministConscience · 17/06/2017 08:08

No, No, No. Definitely not.

The deposit is unlikely to be protected by the DPS because I suspect that the LL wouldn't register it - so good luck getting it back at the end of the tenancy.

There is no earthly reason why she can't pay her rent by bank transfer unless the LL is pulling a fast one by insisting on cash only and dodging tax. If the LL is doing that then I would be very worried about what other corners they were cutting - specifically in respect of the safety of the place; HMOs have particular requirements in respect of fire safety and insurance.

As for the utility set up - bonkers. What happens if someone refuses to pay? You get stuck with their share of the bill because it's in your name!

I really would not touch this with a shitty stick.

Feelingkenty · 17/06/2017 08:09

^ *There

PaulDacresFeministConscience · 17/06/2017 08:12

Kenty snap for me and DH back in our younger days! I know that having a slightly dodgy rental with a flaky LL is almost a rite of passage, but at least back in our day rents were reasonable.

These days private rents are a significant proportion of people's earnings - and also the safety requirements are there for a good reason. There was a fire at one of DH's HMO and he lost everything except the clothes he was standing in. The LL washed his hands of all the tenants so he had to sofa surf for a month until he'd scraped together enough to get another room somewhere. Still a crap situation but if you've been paying cheap rent then you take the risk.

Feelingkenty · 17/06/2017 08:20

Paul it definitely requires placing substantial trust in virtual strangers; and I understand only worth doing if you are getting a bargain with cheap rent. And glad your husband survived his experience sofa surfing after a shitty situation.

I always had insurance but wondered what would happen if something did happen. It's not for everyone and only worth doing if you don't need the paper trail/ care about the legalities

maryelizabeth71 · 17/06/2017 08:30

Kenty and Paul, I think that's where my daughter is coming from :-)

I'm just not as trusting as she is!!

OP posts:
PaulDacresFeministConscience · 17/06/2017 08:43

Kenty ah we were both properly skint in those days, so insurance was a luxury!

Mary It's all relative I suppose. If she's planning a room on the first floor and the windows open, then she could fit her own smoke alarm and if her exit was blocked use the window to get out. If the rent is cheap and the other occupants are nice, then it's maybe not such a bad deal. However if the place is a shithole, the rent is sky high and she's on the 4th floor with no other means of escape if her exit was blocked, then I'd have serious reservations about it.

RB68 · 17/06/2017 08:48

The point of bills being each in one persons name is that everyone is taking some of the risk of none pyt - if you aren't paid for your bill then they aren't paid for theirs etc. The one to avoid being stuck with is council tax as that can end in jail unpaid,

just because LL wants cash doesn't mean dodgy tax avoider - there is no traceability sure, you trust stores that take cash don't you.

It is all part of the learning process, I would ask is the rent reasonable, is the house safe - with firealarms and boiler checks, is it well cared for and room clean and dry. How do the people appear? are they all working? Are they all similarly aged (mixed ages is always more awkward)

It does sound more like a house share of old.

maddening · 17/06/2017 08:55

In a student let we had 2 people leave and then advertised the rooms, I think we must have arranged for them to sign the contract and the only bills were gas and electric, phone and tv lisence which were already held by some of us and everyone paid their share - phone was a line rental and then everyone had their code to dial so we got a split out bill. So it may not be dodgy but worth asking questions. I think we even paid those that left their deposit back and the deposit from the new people paid us back then when we got the main deposit back at the end it was split between the final people there - no one was ripped off.

Spermysextowel · 17/06/2017 09:17

Even if it's not a properly registered HMO under housing legislation the council would consider it was for council tax purposes. The landlord should be paying & not the tenants. He would probably up the rent but it's easy to check if the extra is fair.
In cases where the council doesn't know the circs they can end up taking A to court because their name is on the bill but B C & D are the ones who haven't paid. Or B C &D paid A who just kept the money. I'm not sure how it'd work with utilities tho.
I'd be worried but it may be very standard for a house-share.

Feelingkenty · 17/06/2017 09:18

Mary if it's your daughters first time living away from home/ out of student digs I'd probably be on your side and tell her to keep looking truthfully. If it's not then she should know what the situation is.

Once you've lived in a share house or two, know what to look for and are confident of speaking up when required (to other housemates or LL)** then by all means go for the slightly dodgy one if it feels right. I met my best friends in London share houses Smile
(Complete disclaimer that I know I got lucky and have heard some complete shit stories as well).

harderandharder2breathe · 17/06/2017 09:28

I was a lodger for years and one LL wanted cash payments which I did and stayed there several years and had no issues.

BUT I wouldn't encourage anyone else to do that as you have no protection if something goes wrong, if an unscrupulous LL claims not to have received the money, if a housemate stole the money, if someone didn't pay. It depends very much on the honesty of all involved and looking back I was lucky that it went ok.

As a minimum, payments should be made by bank transfer, cheque or standing order so there's a clear impartial record (bank statements) of what's paid. Deposit must be protected in a registered scheme (I had a LL previously that took deposit as cash but did protect it, but again paying by a traceable method is best). And there must be a written contract and inventory.

maryelizabeth71 · 17/06/2017 11:33

Thanks so much for all your input.

I am still waiting to see the contract and have told her she would need to make sure she gets receipts for rent paid.

Apparently she would meet the LL if she decides to go ahead so I suppose it may be above board ie rent book / signed receipt etc

Thanks again :-)

OP posts:
WomblingThree · 17/06/2017 14:32

I wouldn't trust a contract particularly either. I'm a nasty suspicious person anyway, but they are easy to download and fill in to look genuine. I'd definitely want proof of HMO safety checks and deposit protection if I was your daughter.

Allthebestnamesareused · 17/06/2017 14:44

In light of the recent tragedy I'd be more concerned that this was an unregulated HMO and that safety may not be up to scratch let alone the financial issues.

Also if each of the bills is in one person's name what is the betting that the last in gets the short straw and the liability for the largest bill. Remember she will remain liable if the other tenants do not pay her their share (because they haven't been paid yet/lost their job/insert other excuse).

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