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Tenant's rights? HELP!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by adamofgreyskull, 11 Jul 2006.

  1. adamofgreyskull

    Associate

    Joined: 28 May 2006

    Posts: 53

    Me and my girlfriend moved into a flat in a very newly built appartment block (2 bedrooms, kitchen/dinning room/living room combined) in March-ish. It was completed 3 weeks or so before we moved in.

    When we first looked round with the letting-agent, the landlady's stuff was strewn all about the place, including wigs, several pairs of shoes, several unpaired shoes, a half dis-mantled sofa, which we thought was odd...but we saw past that..and we've now made it our home. The letting-agent said the landlady had been living there, but I think it was more likely she and someone she knew were just crashing there..

    Since we've moved in, we've paid the rent, living here quite happily, but receiving lots and lots and lots of letters. Lots. Addressed to the landlady, plus about 5 or 6 other people who we've never heard of. They couldn't have lived here before her as it wasn't built then.

    As is our duty (laid out in the tenancy agreement) we've been dropping all these letters off at the letting-agents. But we've found out recently that the landlady is "out of the country" and she hasn't received *any* of the post we've left at the agents. A lot of the letters have been bank statements/credit card statements, bills for utilities (made out to The Occupier, separate from our utilities bills addressed to us), bills for a storage company.

    This has been concerning me for a while but in the last couple of weeks, we've had 3 *letters* for her that have required a signature..which is disconcerting, as the only letters I've heard of that require signatures are serious ones...My girlfriend however placated me and said I was just being melodramatic...

    Today, I opened up the mailbox in the little downstairs lobby after getting in from work...sorted out the mail for me, and opened the first two..bills, I opened the third one, and realised it was for the landlady. It's from some company working on behalf of a private mortgage company saying that they're working on helping her to pay back the money she owes, and that they've tried calling at the house but that she wasn't in...could she call them...

    Help. What do I do? Who should I speak to? I'm planning on speaking with the letting-agent tommorrow...what else can I do?

    Luckily, my girlfriend's working til 6:30 all this week, so hopefully I'll be back before her if anyone calls by again, but we're going away to cornwall on saturday, should I be concerned that we'll come back to find all our stuff gone? Really stressed.
     
  2. me227

    Soldato

    Joined: 30 Sep 2004

    Posts: 5,387

    Location: Belfast/Edinburgh

    I don't think you have much to worry about. Debt collectors wouldn't break into your house, and if you just show them your tenancy agreement they should be fine usually.

    Also bad credit isn't reported on the house anymore and it's based on the individual so you don't have to worry either from that point of things.
     
  3. Ekim

    Mobster

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 2,907

    Location: London

    I think hes more worried by the fact that his Landlady clearly hasn't been paying her mortgage for the house that he is living in, which could become problematic.
     
  4. adamofgreyskull

    Associate

    Joined: 28 May 2006

    Posts: 53

    Exactly..not to say I wasn't also worried about the other stuff, but my overriding concern is that if she hasn't been paying her mortgage, we're going to have to move all of our stuff out and start again somewhere else with all the hassle that entails.

    Would the mortgage company become the owners of the house if she defaulted on the payments? For want of a better way of saying this, how nice would they be to us? Ideally, we'd like to stay on as tenants, but if they didn't want us to, how much notice would they have to give us?

    Apparently, our contract is with the letting-agent, and the landlady hasn't actually signed a copy of the contract... :mad:
     
  5. crashuk

    PermaBanned

    Joined: 7 Dec 2005

    Posts: 2,691

    So in ither words the agency is keeping the money,
     
  6. Apex

    Capodecina

    Joined: 12 Feb 2006

    Posts: 12,948

    Location: Surrey

  7. Hades

    Caporegime

    Joined: 19 Oct 2002

    Posts: 26,119

    Location: Surrey

    Maybe not. The agency may be paying the landlady but the landlady may not be paying the mortgage company.
     
  8. adamofgreyskull

    Associate

    Joined: 28 May 2006

    Posts: 53

    Payment to the letting-agent is by bank transfer, and I assume, payment from letting-agent to landlady is by bank transfer also...

    Since letters from HSBC for the woman have been coming to our house ever since we moved in this must be the current address they have for her...

    I'm fast beginning to suspect she's a bit of a sheister...I think I may return a couple of letters to the bank as "Not at this address"..
     
  9. Vonhelmet

    Caporegime

    Joined: 28 Jun 2005

    Posts: 48,104

    Location: On the hoods

    Bailiffs acting on behalf of London Energy once broke into mine to replace the meter on account of the previous tenants not paying the bills. There was a whole lot more to this story, but that was the really nasty bit.
     
  10. 4T5

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 30 Aug 2004

    Posts: 27,745

    Location: Middle of England

    Just an idea.
    How about putting a little name plate near your front door. You know the sort of thing Mr-Mrs etc.
    Anyone coming to your door would immedietly see it was you that was in residence and act accordingly. :)
     
  11. RaohNS

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 23 Apr 2004

    Posts: 8,410

    Location: In the Gym

    You've got nothing to worry about if you live there and a bailiff comes to the door show him proof of ID and just the cover of a bill should do. If he refuses that get details of what agency he is from and on who's behalf he is there and shut the door

    Above all do not let them enter

    >| Raoh |<
     
  12. Bes

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 7,320

    Location: Melbourne

    Problem is that if the landlady isn't paying her mortgage, you will find yourselves booted out (and possibly lose your deposit) when the mortgage company comes to reposess the flat...
     
  13. VIRII

    PermaBanned

    Joined: 24 Jul 2003

    Posts: 30,259

    Correct. Happened to me and some mates years back, had to go to court to get an extension on eviction. All because the muppet didn't pay the mortgage, all done through a letting agency as well.
     
  14. happytechie

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,601

    Location: Surrey

    if you are the current sitting tenant they can't just throw you out on the street, they have to give you whatever notice period there is in your contract I think.

    It sound's to me like you should relax a bit and start finding somewhere else to live?

    perhaps try the CAB, they will know where you stand wrt the law?

    HT
     
  15. VIRII

    PermaBanned

    Joined: 24 Jul 2003

    Posts: 30,259

    We got 2 weeks notice, although by the time we opened the letter we had 7 days. We had to go to court to get a 7 day extension.
    They do not have to give you a notice period, the mortgage company simply wants its property back.
     
  16. crashuk

    PermaBanned

    Joined: 7 Dec 2005

    Posts: 2,691

    its do not open the door speak thru the letter box, they will try their best to get that door open once you open the door and they put their foot in your house/flat theres nothing you can do. So never open the door speak thru the letter box.
     
  17. adamofgreyskull

    Associate

    Joined: 28 May 2006

    Posts: 53

    Right...

    ...this morning there was an urgent looking letter with red writing in the letterbox, addressed to the occupier...
    I opened it, and there's an unpaid gas bill from before we moved in. Having been assured by the letting agent that they've sorted it out with British Gas. It said that £106.09 was unpaid on the bill and that if it isn't paid immediately they'll be coming into our house to shut off the supply. As soon as I got to work I rang the letting agent, who said:

    LA: "oh yes we keep ringing them about this but they keep sending bills"
    ...o_O.... Right. So I said:

    Me: "can you ring them again?".
    LA: "Oh yes. Right away"...damn straight...
    Me: "and you'll ring me when you've done that will you?"
    LA: "I know what they'll say.."
    Me: "WHAT?"...
    LA: "Oh they'll just say that it's been sorted and that it's been fixed again"
    Me: ..."right, ok.."

    She rang back a little later..saying they'd rung them and everything had gone as she'd said...and that we didn't have to worry about anything. I called when I got home too, spoke to one really nice guy, and one hopeless one. We've had one letter with a reference number on, and mine and my girlfriend's names on, which I gave:

    BG: "That reference number is for a different address" right, ok...
    Me: "Can you tell me what I should do about this other letter?", I gave the reference number,
    BG: "Oh yes, that's for the right address, but it has someone else's name on it." ...
    Me: "Yeah that'll be the landlady and previous tenant".
    BG: "Oh. Can you tell me why you opened it?"
    Me: "It has 'The Occupier' written on it, there was bright red writing on the front saying Urgent, why do you think I opened it?"
    BG: "No sir, the name we have for that reference number is XXXXXXX"
    Me: "That's as may be, but the letter I have in my hand is addressed to The Occupier"
    BG: "No sir, I think you're mistaken"
    Me: "Ok, I'll read it out letter by letter in case I've gotten it wrong, T-H-E O-C-C-U-P-I-E-R"
    BG: "Right, I appreciate that sir but..."
    Me: "So what you're saying is that we can ignore this letter then?"
    BG: "Yes, and if you can forward any letters for Mrs XXXXX on to the letting agent."
    Me: "So you're not going to cut off our gas then?"
    BG: "That's not for you, it's for Mrs XXXXXX"
    <snip>

    So do I have this right? British Gas can tie a gas supply to this woman? And if she never pays the bill, they'll do nothing to our gas supply? GAAAAAAH!!

    I have more, but I need to calm down...
     
  18. adamofgreyskull

    Associate

    Joined: 28 May 2006

    Posts: 53

    Tonight, while I was on phone to British Gas, we heard a buzz on the intercom, and my girlfriend went down to the lobby to speak to the guy there. Here's how that conversation went: DC = Debt Collector, I imagine
    DC: "Are you Mrs Uzande?
    gf : "No, we're her tenants"
    DC: "Oh, that's odd, her mortgage contract explicitly states that she's not allowed to sublet the property"
    gf : "I don't know about that, we deal with a letting agent"
    DC: "Right, ok, can I take your name?"
    gf : "No, if you want any information, you can contact the letting agent"
    DC: "Right, I'll have to go back to my boss and tell them that you're being unco-operative, and we'll probably have to go through a solicitor"
    gf : "Well, our contract is with the letting agent"
    DC: "Ok, I'll speak with them"
    Whereupon I enter lobby to hear that last exchange.

    So, if I understand this correctly, this woman has a mortgage on the property that she hasn't been keeping up repayments on, has sublet it despite explicit language in the mortgage contract and is, according to the agent, "overseas". (They've been forwarding mail onto her "aunt".)

    If she wasn't in a position to enter into the contract with us on this basis, does that mean that the contract is null and void and not worth the paper it's printed on? Therefore, are we about to be raped by John Q Mortgage-Lender?
     
  19. Hades

    Caporegime

    Joined: 19 Oct 2002

    Posts: 26,119

    Location: Surrey

    Don't be worried by language such as "I'll have to tell my boss you're being uncooperative". It's just words to try to get you to let them in. Under no circumstances let them in unless they have a court order. Even then insist they bring a policeman with them. Once in they have a right to take what they like if they believe you are the debtor (which you clearly aren't - but why get yourself into that situation). Show proof that you're not the person they are looking for through a chained door. Don't open it.

    You have no obligation to the debt collectors. However this is a problem for your tenancy and if the property is reposessed then eventually you are likely to be evicted. Think of it this way - even without this problem your landlord could usually give you two months notice to leave at any time.

    Ultimately you could simply refuse to leave and it would take many, many months to evict you legally. I'd highly recommend visiting the site in my sig as here are some very knowledgable people on there: both tenants and also landlords (despite the site's name!).
     
  20. Hades

    Caporegime

    Joined: 19 Oct 2002

    Posts: 26,119

    Location: Surrey

    I had an almost identical situation when I moved into my current place a few months ago. The previous tenant (not landlord though) had left and not paid the bills. We had similar threatening letters about being cut-off and so I made life hell for the agent insisting they sorted it out. They did so and I received a welcome letter from the gas/elec company. Have you received a similar letter acknowledging that you now have a contract with them? If not, and if you think the agent isn't doing their job properly, then demand the name of the energy company from the agent (you probably already have that by the sounds of it) and get put through to their customer services dept to explain the situation. If you don't feel confident they are addressing the problem then demand to be put through to their manager... and so on until you're happy.

    Remember: the meek are unlikely to inherit the earth.