My Tamworth letting agent is unwilling to release deposit to me?

Ask Lorraine
confused
confused

I have two properties, one in Tamworth and the other in Hinckley.  The local one has always been managed by a letting agent and the Hinckley property, I manage myself due to a friend renting the flat.

I decided some time ago to take over the management myself and duly gave 3 months notice to the letting company that I wished to do so. At that time I also informed them that I would like to hold the deposit and put it into my own scheme.

This seemed fine at the time and they confirmed in email, their agreement to this, getting my tenant’s agreement that the deposit could be held in my scheme.

I received the last month’s rent from the letting agent yesterday, but no deposit monies. I have telephoned them to ask where it is and they say they will not release the money to me until I have registered the deposit with my own scheme and given them proof that I have done this.

Can anybody advise me whether this is right?

Lorraine’s Answer

The letting agent is responsible to the tenant for the deposit and as you are breaking all ties with the agent, I can understand they are unwilling to release the deposit directly to you without a guarantee that it will be protected.

Register the deposit with your scheme and send the agent  the details, they will then transfer the deposit into your account.

Until next week.

 

 

 

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Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth Landlord has died, what happens now?

Ask Lorraine – Please can you help?  We have been told that our landlord has suddenly died, what does this mean for me and my family? Are we going to be thrown out of our home of nearly 6 years.

Thank you  Les & family

Lorraine’s Answer –  Hi, Les

For you the tenant, nothing changes in the short term,  you cannot be evicted as long as you keep paying the rent. So I would say “don’t panic” and rush along to the Citizens Advice Bureau, the law is already on your side.

rest in peace
rest in peace

The tenancy becomes part of the landlords estate with the  tenancy continuing. Once Probate has been granted then the tenancy passes to the landlords beneficiary/beneficiaries who will become the new landlords.

Granting Probate can take a considerable time, often months in fact, so even if the new landlord is not willing to renew the tenancy, the tenant will have plenty of time to look at their options.

The new landlord will look at his/her personal circumstances as to what happens once Probate has been granted. Should they continue to rent the property to the existing tenant nothing will change except that the new landlord must inform the tenant in writing of the change to the landlords details.

When the tenancy is up for renewal, the next agreement will be with the new landlord. Should the tenancy already be a periodic tenancy, the new landlord may leave as is – this is when neither party signs another agreement.

If the tenant wants to leave, they must give one months written notice, whereas the landlord must give at least two months written notice.

If there is more than one beneficiary, a property may need to be sold so that the proceeds can be divided between them. The tenant is still entitled to stay in the property until the end of the tenancy. As it can take  some time for Probate to be granted and then for the property to be put on the market and sold, the tenant has time to find a new home for when the tenancy ends.

It may be that the new owner would wish to purchase the property with a tenant in situ. A win win situation on both sides – the tenant keeps his home and the new owner has rental money coming in straight away.

Every case is different and flexibility is the key.

Until next time.

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My Tamworth tenant is claiming 3 times the deposit after he has moved out!

Ask Lorraine

My old tenant is trying to claim back 3 x his original deposit due to him stating that I was 22 days late in protecting it.

My annual family holiday happended to fall the following day  after the tenancy started and I had no time in which to lodge the deposit.

The tenancy ended 9 months ago, so how can he bring this claim against me now?

Any advice will be gratefully received.

Thanks Ron

Lorraine’s Answer 

Changes made by the Localism Act in 2012 did clarify that ex-tenants can make a claim for a deposit penalty. Unfortunately, they have 6 years to make a claim.

The penalty is between  1 and 3 times deposit, however this is at the discretion of the court. (The court must give at least 1 x deposit).

I cannot say how the judge will rule as there are no mitigating circumstances for not lodging a deposit within the 30 day timescale, so the 3 x deposit may be awarded to the tenant.

With over 200 pieces of legislation on renting property, if not already, you should join an organisation for example “The National Landlords Association” they offer advice and assistance to landlords. Or you may want to think about letting an agency manage the property!

Until next week.

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Ask Lorraine – I need to trace a Tamworth Guarantor

Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth tenants moved out after leaving rent arrears of nearly three thousand pounds and I have decided to persue the tenant’s guarantor for the money.

Up to the point of the tenants doing a moonlight flit I had been in contact with the guarantor through Facebook. I had made him aware of the arrears situation and his obligations as guarantor.

Tracing a guarantor
Tracing a guarantor

The moment I found out that my tenants had vanished, I also found out that the guarantor had not only deleted his Facebook account but his mobile number had changed as well.

Would you credit it? The address given by him at the start of the tenancy is incorrect, they’ve never even heard of him there!

I would like to trace this gentleman, I think possibly that he is still living and working in the Tamworth area.

Can you  offer any advice?

Cheers Naz

Lorraine’s Answer – 

Hi, You do not say what steps you had taken with the tenants to recover the unpaid rent or if you had served a section 8 or section 21 on them.  Did you conduct checks on the tenants or the guarantor ? from you email,  it appears that you did not, on the guarantor.

Try Nationwide Tracing Services Limited to find your guarantor or missing tenants, their fee is £35 which is paid only when they have traced the named person/s.

Should you wish to continue to self manage the tenancy,  I would recommend joining an association – The National Landlords Association, they offer great advice.

I hope you have success in your search.

Until next week.

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Has my Tamworth lodger become my accidential tenant?

My best friend came to visit me nearly three years ago, she stayed on and rented one of my rooms.  With low rent and fully inclusive of all bills, she had a great deal.

After 6 months I went to live with my partner so rented out another room in my house. Shortly after I moved out  my best friends son came to stay and has been there ever since.

When I was  advised recently I had created a HMO, I told my friend that her son had to leave the property, she advised that she would be vacating when he did. I then gave them a polite written notice that I wanted them both the leave.

When the second tenant left  6 weeks ago I locked her room to prevent it being used.

My question is – As nothing was ever put down on paper, Is my friend to be treated as a tenant?

What happens if she decides not to move out voluntarily? And how do I handle her son?

Many thanks

 

game over
game over

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As they can only be a lodger while you live in the property it looks like you have created a tenancy.

Keep things as pleasant as possible and hope that things do not break down between all parties.  If your friend and her son do decide not to move out, I would recommend that you seek professional advice as soon as possible.

I hope all goes well.

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As Lorraine – My Tamworth tenants are getting married, will this change the tenancy?

Make out the tenancy agreement with the current names. Once the couple are married make a note of the change and when writing, use the new name. 

A new tenancy agreemnt will not be required after the name change as it is still the same person.

Ask Lorraine – I am a Tamworth landlord with an EPC dilema!

You may find this article helpful   https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/energy-performance-certificates-for-the-construction-sale-and-let-of-dwellings

Ask Lorraine ; What Documents do I need for my Tamworth property before renting it out?

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Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth tenant has two dogs in the property, help!

Ask Lorraine – We have always stipulated that none of our tenants are allowed to keep pets in our properties. We are  not being unreasonable, my husband  has a pet allergy and suffers very badly with chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing whenever he comes in contact with them. We have always explained the reason for our no pets policy.

My husband called round to our latest tenants as they were  having an issue with the garage door. Imagine his response when he found the tenants had gone against our wishes and had two dogs in the property.

We now feel that we have lost all trust in our tenants and would like to know what are options are.

Thanks

B.W & S.W

Lorraines Answer – Landlords usually have a clause prohibiting pet ownership for  many reasons i.e potential damage to the property, noise, fleas, or even problems for future tenants if they have pet allergies.

Do you have a clause in your tenancy agreement prohibiting pet ownership at the property? If not then I would recommend that you include a clause for any future tenancies.

If you do have such a clause then the good news – you can give your tenants notice under section 8 clause 12 of the Housing Act 1988. This section covers a breach of the tenancy agreement.

No dogs or cats allowed
No dogs or cats allowed

Write to your tenants and ask them to remove the pets, ensure you refer to the clause in the tenancy agreement. I say write to your tenants as you should always document any correspondence with your tenants, if you have to take them to court you are able to supply any evidence requested by the courts.

If the pets are not removed, you will need to take the next step to seek possession of the property.  You can find form 3 plus lots of information on Eviction under section 8 clause 12 here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/as…

Should you not wish to get involved yourselves in the possession paperwork, then a solicitor or letting agent would be able to help.

Until next week.

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Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth HMO and damage.

Ask Lorraine – We have been landlords of 2 apartments for 6 years now and have always had fantastic tenants. My husband talked me into adding to our portfolio and we are now running  a HMO. Wow, what a whole new ball game!

The HMO is our former much loved family home, we always had top of the range fixtures and fittings and it was  possibly much nicer than other HMO’s.

Shared House
Shared house

 

 

 

 

Our problem is that my husband seems to be at the property every week sorting issues out. Last night a tenant texted to say that the corner of the marble worksurface in the kitchen is badly chipped. Infact he states that he found a rather large piece of marble on the kitchen floor which he’s left on the hall table, should we need the piece to repair the worksurface.

We cannot understand how this could possibly have happened, surely this is not down to wear and tear?The problem is that it will be very difficult to prove who actually damaged the worksurface and to charge them.

Best Wishes Lily

Lorraine’s Answer – Hello Lily

You have my every sympathy, renting out your own former home is always a recipe for disaster.  No matter how careful the tenants are, they will they be harder on it than you ever were.

One piece of advice – make it nice for them but don’t go to the same expense as you would your own home. Tenants may not deliberately damage your things but as they haven’t had to pay for them the they won’t normally have the same feelings towards them.

The problem with HMO’s is that you cannot prove which resident damaged anything in the communal areas, so basically the landlord has to carry out the repairs and swallow any costs.

You’ve probably already found that running costs of a HMO are much higher than that of a normal AST type tenancy. If you are carrying out weekly repairs it may be in your best interests if you do your sums and decide if running a HMO is still good for you. After all you are running a business!

With the added costs, come the legislation on HMO’s, these  are a minefiled for even seasoned Landlords, maybe a headache too far?

Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy your property journey.

Until next week

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Ask Lorraine – My tenants have left owing hundreds in utility bills

Ask Lorraine  – We  had been renting our Tamworth  property out to a couple who really did seem to be respectable and trustworthy.

Tenants owe utility bills
Tenants owe utility bills

Once they had  moved out we found  they had left owing over £600.00 in utility bills.

Apparently the lady had contacted the utility suppliers and said they were only renting a room from us and  we were  responsible for the bills.

This was simply not true, the couple were renting the whole property. For the past 3 months, we have been in talks with the utility suppliers however as the couple have now  disappeared  we are being pressed to settle these bills. We have been burying our heads in the sand. Please help.

Anna

Bills

Lorraine’s answer  – Hi Anna,

Did you take meter readings and inform the utility companies before the tenants moved in?

Did you also inform the water company and council when the tenants moved in?

As the Landlord and owner of the property, you should really take responsibility to advise the relevant companies when  tenants move in and out. Don’t rely on others to do this!

You need to contact the Utility suppliers and explain that the tenants were liable for the bills, send them the Tenancy Agreement confirming this and make sure they change the owing accounts into the tenants names.

This will ensure their contracts are between them and the tenants plus it should prevent them coming to the property to install credit meters to claw back the outstanding debt from you.

For future reference, you can ask to become an additional name on the account (‘Third Party User’) the tenant has to request this but you can make the tenancy agreement conditional upon this. The landlord would not be liable for the bills, it would give the landlord a way to monitor the tenants account and perhaps be aware of any issues unfolding.

Good Luck.

Until next week

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