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FionaT

Desperately Need Advice

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Hi there, I'm new here, just found your site while trawling the net for some much-needed advice.

My husband and I are in a aistuation and desperately need some advice and the Community Legal guys failed to understand us or help me.

I'll try and condense, but it's complex so please bear with me.

We lived in a damp and mouldy house for 4 years, moved out 4th May this year - had many probs with landlord not fixing doors etc, not doing anything about the damp, so after 4 years we decided to move. Previously, we got on really well with landlord so we didn't hassle him for repairs.

But, we called Private Landlords Assoc out (they were coming anyway to do re-accreditation) and they noticed the damp and mould - said they'd have a word with landlord. Didn't help, few months passed, nothing and landlord stopped replying to us (seems he spit the dummy out) as he stopped replying after P.L.A had visited.

So, we rightly or wrongly after 4years of cold, damp and bronchitis, not to mention the clothes, towels, duvets, cushions etc I'd lost due to damp and mould we stopped paying the rent 3 months before we moved out (as we needed the money to pay for new house).

So, we owed him around £1000, now £2000 (I assume interest).

We moved to a lovely new house and have fab new landlords, then had letter from ex-landlord saying we owed him £5500 for rent arrears, repairs and damp course!!! Obviously, we are not liable for the damp course, the cheek, and he threatened debt recovery.

We stood our ground and did not respond (we are just sick and tired of the hassle after 4 years), and then he kindly put a big notice in the window of property saying our names and that we'd abandoned the property and if anyone knows our whereabouts to contact him.

Firstly, we did not abandon the place, he had 6 weeks notice of our moving out date, he sent letter back saying sorry you want to move out, and he has sent letters to our new property so he knows fine well where we are.

The notice has proved very troublesome - we live in a small village where my hubby grew up and has caused us no end of embarrassment and his mum too - I've been really upset and too embarrassed to go out, this whole thing has me physically ill.

Now, we get a letter saying he is taking leagal action for his £6000!!! and wants to go for an attachment of earnings. We are worried sick, literally.

We cannot afford this, only my hubby works, I have health probs but we don't get any kind of benefits, we manage on what we have, not to mention paying off some long-standing debts.

I have been told that a court order is not actually enforceable anyway, but worry about this attachment of earnings...I cannot cope with this.

Can anyone shed any light please? We are desperate.

Sorry for the huge first post.

FionaT.

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Now, we get a letter saying he is taking leagal action for his £6000!!! and wants to go for an attachment of earnings. We are worried sick, literally.

We cannot afford this, only my hubby works, I have health probs but we don't get any kind of benefits, we manage on what we have, not to mention paying off some long-standing debts.

I have been told that a court order is not actually enforceable anyway, but worry about this attachment of earnings...I cannot cope with this.

Can anyone shed any light please? We are desperate.

Sorry for the huge first post.

FionaT.

This is not strictly a housing problem, either he takes you to court or he doesn't

And if he does, you need to respond correctly

I suggest that you go and see the CAB and they will tell you what to do.

FWIW, you have no defence to the unpaid rent (assuming that there wasn't a deposit that covered it), the rest is probably not payable

And yes a court order is enforcable, what other purpose would they serve?

tim

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Do you actually own him any rent and what was in you contract about cancelling your renting agreement ?

Did you left any damage behind?

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And yes a court order is enforcable, what other purpose would they serve?

A court order for a private debt has to be enforced by the lender, at their own cost, and still within the law.

Basically, the LL can set the bailifs on you, but these aren't a problem provided you don't let the b*stards get into your home at any point for any reason.

They can't force entry basically, so you need to keep them out that way, and eventually the LL will tire of the cost involved in trying to recover the debt and give up.

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You must talk to CAB or Shelter. I wonder if there is any action you can take against him for the notice in the window. That sounds like harassment and I know Shelter have been vocal against other landlords and their agents that have done this. I do think you might have to pay the rent for the last 3 months and probably some interest. Shelter or CAB might be able to advise if that should be reduced because the landlord failed to maintain the property.

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You must talk to CAB or Shelter. I wonder if there is any action you can take against him for the notice in the window. That sounds like harassment and I know Shelter have been vocal against other landlords and their agents that have done this. I do think you might have to pay the rent for the last 3 months and probably some interest. Shelter or CAB might be able to advise if that should be reduced because the landlord failed to maintain the property.

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Don't worry until you get a claim form. If that comes through the post, read all the directions and stick in a defence and a counterclaim over the damp, loss of quiet enjoyment etc, especially if you had kids staying in the place.

You might also sue for defamation regarding the notice in the window, but that's a very technical claim.

If you respond strongly and coherently, chances are he'll piss off. But do get legal advice.

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Cheeky bugger! If you have complained to him in the first place, its his property not yours! You are paying him rent & for what? a damp mouldy house! You did not do the damage! He deserves a good slap!

Hope everything works out for you guys.

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We lived in a damp and mouldy house for 4 years, moved out 4th May this year - had many probs with landlord not fixing doors etc, not doing anything about the damp, so after 4 years we decided to move. Previously, we got on really well with landlord so we didn't hassle him for repairs.
  • So, we rightly or wrongly after 4years of cold, damp and bronchitis, not to mention the clothes, towels, duvets, cushions etc I'd lost due to damp and mould we stopped paying the rent 3 months before we moved out (as we needed the money to pay for new house).

  • So, we owed him around £1000, now £2000 (I assume interest).

  • We moved to a lovely new house and have fab new landlords, then had letter from ex-landlord saying we owed him £5500 for rent arrears, repairs and damp course!!! Obviously, we are not liable for the damp course, the cheek, and he threatened debt recovery.

  • We stood our ground and did not respond (we are just sick and tired of the hassle after 4 years), and then he kindly put a big notice in the window of property saying our names and that we'd abandoned the property and if anyone knows our whereabouts to contact him.

  • Firstly, we did not abandon the place, he had 6 weeks notice of our moving out date, he sent letter back saying sorry you want to move out, and he has sent letters to our new property so he knows fine well where we are.

  • The notice has proved very troublesome - we live in a small village where my hubby grew up and has caused us no end of embarrassment and his mum too - I've been really upset and too embarrassed to go out, this whole thing has me physically ill.

  • Now, we get a letter saying he is taking leagal action for his £6000!!! and wants to go for an attachment of earnings. We are worried sick, literally.

Oh dear, I can understand why you are worried. I think you should not be unduly concerned. If I can summarise your situation: You ended your tenancy because the accommodation was not satisfactory and left owing 3 months rent. The landlord is threatening to sue you to recover the unpaid rent together with his costs for bringing the property back into the condition it was in at the start of the tenancy.

The Landlord will have to bring a claim against you in Court before he can apply for an attachment of earnings order. Given the small amount outstanding I would think he would start an action in the small claims court. These proceedings are relatively informal and you will be given the opportunity to state your version of events. Even if the Court orders you to pay it may allow you a period of time to pay.

The first thing you should do is write to the Landlord setting out your version of events. If the case is taken to court you will need to demonstrate that you tried to reason with the Landlord. Keep a copy of the letter in case you need to show it to the judge.

It is likely that you will have to pay the rent for the last three months. I suggest you offer to pay the outstanding rent over a short period. I would not offer to pay anything for repairs and interest unless your conscience dictates that you are responsible for some damage to the property. The Landlord can only claim interest if it is provided for in the tenancy agreement. You may have to pay some interest if the case is taken to court and the Court orders you to pay.

The Landlord will need to satisfy the Court of the repairs needed to bring the property into the condition it was at the start of the tenancy. When you first rented the house you should have been given an inventory detailing the condition of the house. The Landlord will need to produce a copy signed by both you and him. He will also have to convince the Court that you caused damage to the property during your occupation. Ideally when you left you should have been given an inventory listing the condition of the house when you left including any damage you caused. Without an inventory the Landlord will have difficulty in persuading the Court that the condition you vacated the property in was worse than when you moved in. Also the Landlord will have to convince the court that any damage was not caused by anyone else after you had left.

I am surprised that he has put a notice on the house setting out his allegations of your misconduct. Technically he has libeled you and you could take action against him. This type of action is very expensive and I wouldn't suggest you undertake it. As you live in a small village, just explain to your friends what happened. Some will believe you some won't. If you are sure you have not done anything wrong then you have no reason to be embarrassed.

Stand your ground by all means, but you must respond to the Landlord. If you just ignore his allegations it will look as if you are in the wrong. I suggest you make an appointment to see a solicitor. Most are prepared to give you up to 30 minutes of their time to listen to your situation and advise you what to do without charge.

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What sleepwellonights said, I totally agree with.

Having gone through the court system myself in a dispute with a LL I can concur that you will get your say in court. The judge will be sympathetic and will look to get to the bottom of things. I'd also like to emphasise the point that sleepwell made concerning the burden of proof. The LL has made allegations against you that he now has to prove. The burden is on him to prove

1. You didn't pay the rent

2. You left the property in a state of disrepair as compared to when you moved in and you caused this state of disrepair either (i) deliberately or (ii) by not informing him in good time of the problem

He'll be able to manage 1 presumably. 2 will be a lot trickier.

As sleepwell says you need to get in contact with him so that you can say you tried to resolve this. Send a letter to him recorded delivery (so you can prove receipt or you can prove he refused to communicate with you)

He has also defamed you. You may not want to take action on that, but I would at least photo the notice he placed in the property. I'd also get legal advice on this. If he knows where you are presumably he could have come round for a chat. It will make he look like a bully, which will strengthen your case.

In addition to the CAB and Shelter you can get free legal advice from these organisations:

http://www.communitylegaladvice.org.uk/

http://www.lawcentres.org.uk/

Regarding what Financial Hack said, it is true you can dodge the debt. However if you have a County Court Judgment (CCJ) against you and you do not pay then it will go on your credit record and cause a problem in the future if you need credit. If you have a CCJ but pay it off by the CCJ deadline then it will not go on your credit record (so don't panic about having to pay the LL some money).

You don't owe him interest unless the court says so. It is highly unlikely to be 100% in such a short period of time! I would look to pay off the £1000 though, 2 wrongs don't make a right.

Try not to get too stressed about this. The LL is in the wrong. Remain calm and consider your options. There is plenty of support for you here.

Keep us posted

Best of luck!

Edit for bit about interest

Edited by shylock

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moved out 4th May this year - ...

...So, we owed him around £1000, now £2000 (I assume interest).

IIRC small claims court interest is 8% per annum max. Worst case scenario is case comes to court (it at all) end of the year, so let's say 6% of 1000.

That's 60 quid interest

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A Landlord is trying to claim the cost of damp proofing from you, that is funny. Landlords are responsible for the costs of maintaining the fabric of the building, the fact he has failed to do this is not your fault.

You will have to pay the rent probably it depends how the judge looks on the fact the Landlord did not address the damp issue.

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Oh dear, I can understand why you are worried. I think you should not be unduly concerned. If I can summarise your situation: You ended your tenancy because the accommodation was not satisfactory and left owing 3 months rent. The landlord is threatening to sue you to recover the unpaid rent together with his costs for bringing the property back into the condition it was in at the start of the tenancy.

The Landlord will have to bring a claim against you in Court before he can apply for an attachment of earnings order. Given the small amount outstanding I would think he would start an action in the small claims court. These proceedings are relatively informal and you will be given the opportunity to state your version of events. Even if the Court orders you to pay it may allow you a period of time to pay.

The first thing you should do is write to the Landlord setting out your version of events. If the case is taken to court you will need to demonstrate that you tried to reason with the Landlord. Keep a copy of the letter in case you need to show it to the judge.

It is likely that you will have to pay the rent for the last three months. I suggest you offer to pay the outstanding rent over a short period. I would not offer to pay anything for repairs and interest unless your conscience dictates that you are responsible for some damage to the property. The Landlord can only claim interest if it is provided for in the tenancy agreement. You may have to pay some interest if the case is taken to court and the Court orders you to pay.

The Landlord will need to satisfy the Court of the repairs needed to bring the property into the condition it was at the start of the tenancy. When you first rented the house you should have been given an inventory detailing the condition of the house. The Landlord will need to produce a copy signed by both you and him. He will also have to convince the Court that you caused damage to the property during your occupation. Ideally when you left you should have been given an inventory listing the condition of the house when you left including any damage you caused. Without an inventory the Landlord will have difficulty in persuading the Court that the condition you vacated the property in was worse than when you moved in. Also the Landlord will have to convince the court that any damage was not caused by anyone else after you had left.

I am surprised that he has put a notice on the house setting out his allegations of your misconduct. Technically he has libeled you and you could take action against him. This type of action is very expensive and I wouldn't suggest you undertake it. As you live in a small village, just explain to your friends what happened. Some will believe you some won't. If you are sure you have not done anything wrong then you have no reason to be embarrassed.

Stand your ground by all means, but you must respond to the Landlord. If you just ignore his allegations it will look as if you are in the wrong. I suggest you make an appointment to see a solicitor. Most are prepared to give you up to 30 minutes of their time to listen to your situation and advise you what to do without charge.

Good advice. I agree with everything that's said here!!

The only thing that I would add is that he might be trying it on as none of the correspondence seems to be coming from the Court or a solicitor.

If you send him a letter setting out your side of the story as suggested and then wait and see if he takes further action. Make sure you explain that you had no choice but to leave because of the condition of the property. You'll soon find out if he's calling your bluff. You can always make him an offer of 1, 2 or 3 months rent later when you know if he's going through the legal channels!!

Hopefully you've kept a copy of all correspondence. Did you take any photos of the property that you can use in your defence?

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Firstly, look into the legality of his window sign. It can't be legal. Get it photographed/filmed, then set about having it removed. You need to start fighting back and get him on the back foot. Right now he's got you scared.

I'm no expert, but common sense says you'll probably end up paying the basic rent amount. Issues of squalor in the rental should have been dealt with the right way in the first place, not by running off with the rent.

Just my 2 cents. Good luck.

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A court order for a private debt has to be enforced by the lender, at their own cost, and still within the law.

Basically, the LL can set the bailifs on you, but these aren't a problem provided you don't let the b*stards get into your home at any point for any reason.

They can't force entry basically, so you need to keep them out that way, and eventually the LL will tire of the cost involved in trying to recover the debt and give up.

This is very true.

But, if the person getting the CCJ knows where the "debtor" works, they can apply for attachment of earnings.

Bailiffs you can up, to a point, ignore, so long as you don't let em in.

But if, as it sounds in this case, the parties know each other's affairs pretty well, the LL might go for attachment of earnings.

If the OP has any correspondence about the place being unfit, and can show that the LL knew about the damp for ages and did nothing, maybe the tenant could justify not paying?

About the sign - you could always put some signs up warning others that this guy rents out substandard accommodation.

Two can play at this game!

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Hi there, I'm new here, just found your site while trawling the net for some much-needed advice.

My husband and I are in a aistuation and desperately need some advice and the Community Legal guys failed to understand us or help me.

I'll try and condense, but it's complex so please bear with me.

We lived in a damp and mouldy house for 4 years, moved out 4th May this year - had many probs with landlord not fixing doors etc, not doing anything about the damp, so after 4 years we decided to move. Previously, we got on really well with landlord so we didn't hassle him for repairs.

But, we called Private Landlords Assoc out (they were coming anyway to do re-accreditation) and they noticed the damp and mould - said they'd have a word with landlord. Didn't help, few months passed, nothing and landlord stopped replying to us (seems he spit the dummy out) as he stopped replying after P.L.A had visited.

So, we rightly or wrongly after 4years of cold, damp and bronchitis, not to mention the clothes, towels, duvets, cushions etc I'd lost due to damp and mould we stopped paying the rent 3 months before we moved out (as we needed the money to pay for new house).

So, we owed him around £1000, now £2000 (I assume interest).

We moved to a lovely new house and have fab new landlords, then had letter from ex-landlord saying we owed him £5500 for rent arrears, repairs and damp course!!! Obviously, we are not liable for the damp course, the cheek, and he threatened debt recovery.

We stood our ground and did not respond (we are just sick and tired of the hassle after 4 years), and then he kindly put a big notice in the window of property saying our names and that we'd abandoned the property and if anyone knows our whereabouts to contact him.

Firstly, we did not abandon the place, he had 6 weeks notice of our moving out date, he sent letter back saying sorry you want to move out, and he has sent letters to our new property so he knows fine well where we are.

The notice has proved very troublesome - we live in a small village where my hubby grew up and has caused us no end of embarrassment and his mum too - I've been really upset and too embarrassed to go out, this whole thing has me physically ill.

Now, we get a letter saying he is taking leagal action for his £6000!!! and wants to go for an attachment of earnings. We are worried sick, literally.

We cannot afford this, only my hubby works, I have health probs but we don't get any kind of benefits, we manage on what we have, not to mention paying off some long-standing debts.

I have been told that a court order is not actually enforceable anyway, but worry about this attachment of earnings...I cannot cope with this.

Can anyone shed any light please? We are desperate.

Sorry for the huge first post.

FionaT.

My friend went through a similar situation, as regards the damp, it seems mould growth and condensation, is caused by the lifestyle of the occupants of the house, once she moved out the house had no damp, she ended up with her wages being arrested and now has to pay 250 per month from her wages till the debt which was just over 3k is paid.

So once your husbands wages are arrested they cannot take it all just a certain amount per month that is agreed between each party.

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How're things going FionaT? Has anything happened with the story so far?

Presumably you have evidence form the Private LL Association that they thought the house was substandard? Do you have copies of correspondence to show that you notified him of the damp situation a while ago?

Did you have a deposit with him - I guess it won't be in TDS if you've been there for 4 years, unless you renewed you contract? While it's not the done thing to withhold rent - presumably there is also some money that he owes you, that maybe by now would also be accruing interest...

It sounds like he hasn't been maintaining the property, and no-one else would be wise to rent from him... If there was a higher turnover of tenants in the property, and they all moaned about the damp/repairs needing doing in the house whilst in the local pub/shops/to the neighbours he'd get a bad reputation in a little village!

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I'm a landlord and I agree with the advice given so far. His public notice sounds like harrassment and defamation (the man should be ashamed of himself) and after taking photos, your solicitor should write to him with a threat of court action. At the same time you should make clear that you will pay the rent owed, but are in no way responsible for the damp course or the effects of damp and will contest him all the way if he chooses to take legal action.

Yes, the LL is in the wrong, but you are also in the wrong for not paying the rent, as you were legally required to do by your tenancy agreement. You need to avoid recriminations, start negotiating, and get solicitors involved so you can put this thing behind you.

A small point in defence of the LL on the damp issue: most property owners know that this can be an absolute nightmare to fix, given the build quality of certain old houses. Modern additions like non-breathable plaster don't help, but also neither do tenants who refuse to use tumble driers or extractor fans or open windows in a normal manner. A great deal of so-called damp-generated mould is actually caused by condensation because users are not ventilating the house enough with fresh air. However this does not absolve the landlord from inspecting the house regularly, taking remedial action where possible without seriously inconveniencing the tenant, and if necessary appointing a cleaner to kill off any condensation mould and to open all the windows from time to time, if only to ensure good maintenance of his property despite the ignorant behaviour of the tenant (which I am not saying was happening here).

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Is it just me who gets really pissed off with people who ask for advice, and then don't have the decency to reply with thanks to all those who have taken the time and effort to reply? Bloody cheek!

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Is it just me who gets really pissed off with people who ask for advice, and then don't have the decency to reply with thanks to all those who have taken the time and effort to reply? Bloody cheek!

Perhaps she's now sleeping in a shop doorway and has lost internet access?

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This is very true.

But, if the person getting the CCJ knows where the "debtor" works, they can apply for attachment of earnings.

Bailiffs you can up, to a point, ignore, so long as you don't let em in.

But if, as it sounds in this case, the parties know each other's affairs pretty well, the LL might go for attachment of earnings.

If the OP has any correspondence about the place being unfit, and can show that the LL knew about the damp for ages and did nothing, maybe the tenant could justify not paying?

About the sign - you could always put some signs up warning others that this guy rents out substandard accommodation.

Two can play at this game!

what rights do they have if you do let them in?

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PLA made note of condition of property. If not fit for human habitation (health reasons/kids etc) will mean you were justified in with-holding rent as he did not fulfil his side of the contract - providing adequate accommodation for your family.

The sign sounds like libel.

The rest (interest/damp course .. unless you flooded the property early on) is pure ******** that wont get traction in court. Some grounds for harrassment.. could try counter-sue.

Get advice from CAB.

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