AccidentalLandlord2403 · 25/09/2020 14:23
We bought a house few years back to live in. However, following a job change, I had to move out to another location, so we rented it out.
The tenants without informing us moved in another couple into the property (and they moved out). (They had some unfortunate events, but I don't see that as any excuse). This was sometime last year and we only found out when we inspected the property end of last year.
We asked the current tenant to submit identity proofs etc and to transfer tenancy. They submitted proofs but continued under the existing arrangement as they did not have a deposit (sighting coronavirus). So, in essence, we have the previous tenant's deposit with us but current tenant is paying the rent.
I knew we will move back into the property towards end of this year. So, we didn't press this too much (so part of the fault is on us).
We informed the current tenants to move out by giving notice and the way they responded made me very anxious (saying they can't move out etc), but finally agreed to end the tenancy in the next few months.
However, now the old tenant has asked for their deposit back (the current tenant hopefully will move out in next few months). They have kept the house in not so great condition. So, we are expecting we might have to deduct for cleaning or even if they end up not paying the last month's rent etc.
What are your thoughts? How should I proceed in this case. Due to the corona situation, we don't really have much money to hire a lawyer etc (hopefully, it won't come to that. I am really hoping we can just settle everything amicably and just get our house back in good shape).
Please let me know if you have faced similar situations, also please keep things constructive and will look forward to your advice.
JoJoSM2 · 25/09/2020 14:27
Have you sought legal advice? It sounds a serious mess...
pilates · 25/09/2020 14:34
I would be very angry with the old tenants for moving people into your property without your consent. You need to get them out ASAP. Sorry it doesn’t sound good. Get some legal advice.
pilates · 25/09/2020 14:35
Have you got a phone number for the old tenants?
AccidentalLandlord2403 · 25/09/2020 15:09
@pilates We have contacted both (on emails - I am making sure to record everything) and said that we can refund old tenant's deposit once the new tenant starts at least a short-term tenancy with us (by paying in deposit which we will pay back when they move out). Very stressed and never imagined this situation will occur!
@JoJoSM2 We might have to do that but I am really hoping we resolve things between ourselves. If they move out soon, happy to refund deposit to the previous occupier. I am not even much fussed about cleaning etc, just want my house back. I am assuming that legal advice will be expensive too. I will look into it though. If you know of anyone trustworthy, please do share.
Viviennemary · 25/09/2020 15:09
I think you need legal advice here. You should not return the deposit to the previous tenants. I'd say they are more or less subletting it. Did you not have an agent. Did you notice the rent was being paid by different people.
AdoreTheBeach · 25/09/2020 15:17
If you have a contract with the original tenant, you should look at that as regards subletting. Did they have the right to sublet?I’d contact citizen advice maybe shelter and ask from the perspective of your tenant.
If I were you, I’d not be returning any deposit until the people are out and the check out has been recorded. Presuming you don’t have the deposit in a scheme? There may be issues with that. Just lots to think about and addresss.
AccidentalLandlord2403 · 25/09/2020 15:22
@Viviennemary We rented it out through open rent as the agents were being useless back then (hopefully never have to rent out again but will choose an agent if we ever have to do in future, even if there are few months of void periods!!!). They paid using the previous tenant's account till the time we caught them out and post that, agreed to pay from their account from end of last year.
For legal advice - what are my options? I guess property lawyers, landlord forums can help probably, DPS too? any others you can suggest please?
Thank you all for responding, at least it is not just in my head anymore and getting a bit of clarity on next steps.
MrsTWH · 25/09/2020 15:27
Did you have a signed contract in place with first tenants? What does the contract say about subletting (it sounds as though this is what they have essentially done). I would not return their deposit as the people they sublet it to without permission have caused damage.
AccidentalLandlord2403 · 25/09/2020 15:28
@AdoreTheBeach I don't think the contract allows sub-letting. We have specifically named the people on the contract in it. However, it expired last year though. The new tenants didn't sign a new contract due to the deposit situation and the old tenants didn't request the deposit back till now (they know each other as you will have already made out).
We do have their deposit in DPS. However, I have no clue about what my rights are or their rights are. I will look into sub-letting and what to do on it etc. Thank you very much for the other pointers on citizen advice, I will look into these too.
AccidentalLandlord2403 · 25/09/2020 15:40
@MrsTWH We had a contract with them till last year and the new tenants didn't renew it due to the deposit stuff. The contract (with original tenants which expired last year) doesn't allow sub-letting. Just a bit confused on the deposit (do's and dont's) as we now don't have a contract with previous tenants or current tenants. However, the previous tenants also didn't claim the deposit back before this. I think they probably had plans to move back and just continue.
And, as we were about to move back into the property ourselves, we didn't press too much on the new contract. I am hoping they will be reasonable and not a cause for too much concern. Fingers crossed! Once we move back, we will be out of this situation and I am hoping soon enough.
AccidentalLandlord2403 · 25/09/2020 15:45
@MrsTWH Sorry, strike what I said in previous post. We had a rolling contract with previous tenants. So, we might be okay I think from that front.
PragmaticWench · 25/09/2020 16:11
Are you a member of the National Landlord Association? I'd advise joining if you aren't!
PragmaticWench · 25/09/2020 16:12
I think you'd need to serve a valid section 21 to the tenants you have a contract with, and they are liable for the rent until that notice period is ended. Aside from that you need professional advice!
Bluntness100 · 25/09/2020 16:34
Whatever you do don’t give rhe deposit back, the originals know they are going to loose it hence they want it.
You have no agreement sith these people but they are paying rent, you need to serve notice on them and follow proper process to evict.
Cavagirl · 25/09/2020 16:45
If you have a rolling contract with the previous tenants, and no one served notice, then I'd treat them as the tenants and deal with them with respect to the return (or otherwise) of the deposit.
Presumably you had an inventory etc which you can check off against on moving day, and negotiate with the (original) tenants on deductions.
One imagines, being friends, the current people discussed the deposit situation with the (original) tenants and thus came to some arrangement between them.
But the deposit belongs to the original tenants, so it's them you should be talking to about this.
pilates · 25/09/2020 19:31
I’m not an expert, but does that mean the current ones are sitting tenants?
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