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AIBU?

Wtf do I do. Reaching my wits end here.

39 replies

babybubblescomingsoon · 26/06/2017 12:37

Hello everyone,
I am having a conversation with a flatmate tonight, I would need your advice to prepare it, here is the situation:
-A few months ago I responded to an ad on spareroom for a sublet, all bills included, no deposit, with the original contract running to end of august.
-I only discovered a few weeks ago that this subletting was illegal, for we are now asked to stay out of the flat when viewings are arranged. In their contract, they could sublet if they informed the landlord, which they didn't. In my case, it would have been problematic in terms of council tax since they are all students and I am a professional
-the said flatmate is the contact point to the landlord. For months we have had a highly dysfunctional shower, which we have asked repeatedly to fix. She only sorted it out last week because we texted her once again about it, her argument for not being more proactive was that the landlord was not responsive and she didn't want to piss him off because they have a big deposit. She took offense at our message, in which we told her that she had rights and should look them up because the landlord's attitude was unacceptable.
-The shower has been fixed now, but there is still one glaring issue: the said flatmate has a room which opens on the garden, and she never locks that door. The problem is that none of our rooms have locks, so anyone could come in and steal our things. We have told her about this issue, and yet she still continues not locking it. Moreover, her room is supposed to be the living room, which is why she pays half our rent even though it is the best one. In practice, the living room could not be used by us, because it was horribly messy.
-Because she was upset with our message, we had a quick explanation on friday night, during which she said that as illegal subtenants we had no rights, and should feel lucky that we are not paying council tax.

Now our position now: we plan on moving out in August, so July is basically our last month of rent. Given that to her we have no rights, we should have no responsibilities either. What can we reasonably ask for for the next month as a consequence? Withholding rent? A reduced rent? What is your advice, and do you have any idea of what we can do as compensation for being put in this illegal situation without our consent? Thank you

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unfortunateevents · 26/06/2017 13:42

Also, if you persist in complaining to the lead housemate, what is to stop her from packing up your belongings and locking you out of the flat? You have no rights here! You are laving in a month, suck it up and hope that no-one become aware that you have been staying there.

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MargaretCavendish · 26/06/2017 13:49

Assuming there are three or more legal tenants, OP isn't legally responsible for the council tax in this instance as it's a house of multiple occupation (HMO). The landlord is responsible.

I think it's slightly more complicated than this - see this advice from Brighton council:

As a general rule, a property will be classed as a HMO with the owner liable to pay the Council Tax, where each tenant has his or her own tenancy agreement and only pays rent for part of the property.

The tenants will be liable where there is only one tenancy agreement, with all the tenants names included for the whole of the property, and all of the rent due.

www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/council-tax-and-benefits/council-tax/council-tax-and-houses-multiple-occupation-hmos

I take this as saying that the tenants will be liable if they have a joint and several contract, even if there are three or more of them. That's certainly how it's always been for me in practice. Presumably in this case it's a joint and several contract and the tenants pay in one lump sum, not individually directly to the landlord, as this would have flagged up the change of tenant.

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CottonWoolCandy · 26/06/2017 14:00

It may not be an HMO. It's not just dependent on number of tenants.It depends on whether any of the tenants are related/in a relationship etc.

As for the OP, I agree with PPs. Leave as soon as possible and pay your rent before you go.

Ignorance isn't a good defence on any kind of housing issue. It's your responsibility to make sure you have a legal tenancy and are paying the correct council tax, etc.

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peachgreen · 26/06/2017 14:07

Sorry, I meant to imply that the three tenants had to be separate and on separate contracts by saying "three legal tenants" but didn't word it very well!

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NerrSnerr · 26/06/2017 14:13

You need to just leave, you're illegally subletting a room. You can't ask for reductions etc as you shouldn't be there in the first place.

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Syc4moreTrees · 26/06/2017 14:13

I would put lock on your door if you're concerned about the safety of the back door not being locked. That seems like an obvious step. Also bacon is right in terms of the contract, you will be governed under implied terms since you didn't reduce the contract to writing. You can't withhold or reduce the rent and if you do you will most likely be reported for council tax evasion by the disgruntled flatmate.

You need to engage your brain next time you rent.

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simon50 · 26/06/2017 14:28

I have never rented, but if I was told all bills included, I would assume it to be just that.
She is the one who has broken the tenancy agreement and is in breach with the landlord.
If it was me I would stall on the rent for as long as possible and get out ASAP.
If there's little paper trail etc back to the flat, then council tax wise youv'e had a lucky escape.
She chose to take a chance and break the rules so it's her problem.

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TheLionQueen1 · 26/06/2017 15:22

Simon you're right that she broke the rules and would face consequences but that absolutely doesn't leave the Op blameless, it's her that is at risk of being thrown out of the accommodation and her that could be in trouble with the council (who are far more clever than the contract paper trail, they will be able to see the ad, can look at social media etc, and presumably this is the registered address for OP?)

Surely whether you've rented or not before you would know that there is such a thing as a tenancy contract, which it sounds like the OP can't possibly have. This is exactly why they are in place to protect both land lords and tenants.

Adding to that if it is illegal subletting then the OP now can't get a reference from landlord for her next tenancy which could leave complications

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Redsippycup · 26/06/2017 18:01

OP has just occured to me - did you register to vote in the GE at this address? You may have a CT bill winging it's way towards you as we speak...

Can you not just leave and sofa surf for a bit? You are goung to have to leave in August anyway, yes?

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babybubblescomingsoon · 27/06/2017 16:27

Thanks everyone. Moving into my new place today with signed contracts etc.

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PatriciaHolm · 27/06/2017 16:32

Gosh, that was super speedy.

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babybubblescomingsoon · 27/06/2017 16:35

London!

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shouldnthavesaid · 27/06/2017 16:55

How on earth did you manage that so fast ?!! It took me weeks to sort mine, wait for old tenant to go and then speak to landlord a few times, check flat etc..

Still glad you have a new place , hopefully much better for you !

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babybubblescomingsoon · 27/06/2017 17:26

The room had been empty for a few weeks as the landlord was holding it for someone else, said person opted for another area in the city due to commute time and I got very lucky!

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