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  • Buy-to-Let

    Tenant using deposit for last month's rent



    I was speaking to a tenant the other day who doesn’t trust his landlord. It seems they don’t have the best relationship. 

    Anyway, the tenancy is coming to an end and the tenant has decided to not pay the last month’s rent so that the landlord can keep the deposit instead. The tenant’s rationale for this is he feels the landlord will be very picky with the deposit and will think of everything he could to keep as much of the deposit as possible. 

    Whilst I understand the tenant’s concern, as a landlord myself this is worrying and got me thinking. If a tenant does this, what can a landlord realistically do about it? There is no notice that could be served as the tenant is already leaving. The tenant is then free to trash the place and the landlord has no protection. 

    Is there any way to protect the landlord in this instance?

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    If rent not paid then send a letter. If still not paid CCJ whilst you still have address.

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    In practice there is not a lot that you can do.

    Its almost impossible to get a court action started and get a judgement while the tenant is still there.

    This is why deposits usually exceed one month's rent to deal with this problem.

    One of the annoying facets of the Tenant Fees Act is that deposits go down to just 5 weeks so if a tenant does this there is very little left for damage.

    The only comfort is that most tenants do not trash the place and the cost is usually limited to cleaning. But that is small comfort if you are one of the minority who ends up with significant damage to fix

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    David Smith
    Landlord & Tenant Solicitor
    Anthony Gold Solicitors

    Find me on LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/dsnsmith

    All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my firm. No comment made should be taken as legal advice and you should consult a solicitor or other legal professional for advice on your specific situation.

    I had this situation a few years back.

    I agreed and walked into the worst mess I have ever seen the day they left,  it took us days to clean and empty the flat of rubbish, they had just upped and left.

    Try whatever you can do to retain that deposit until they leave.

    Good luck!

    Sally

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    Yes David I agree no time for Judgement but I was thinking that if tenant still at property the address could be used for a CCJ

    instead of having to wait to find a new address if you needed to make a claim. You know best as a solicitor .

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    Its quite common and quite annoying when they do this

    And I haven't yet thought of a realistic practical viable way around it

    The last month sees the balance of power shift dramatically towards the tenant

    I would like to think my tenants  wont abuse this . Human nature is not perfect though

    They fall out of love with me  and in love with their new landlord

    They therefore are prone to rob Peter to pay Paul

    They dont tend to trash though just leave a mess and say sorry ran out of time

    It cost £50 to send in a cleaner . Often they leave behind £50 of gear they don`t want

    So I tend to take the rough with the smooth


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    Jonathan Clarke. http://www.buytoletmk.com

    It used to be a common occurence for me, usually the tenant used it as a bridging loan to help towrds costs of their next property, these days i’m better at selecting my tenants and as the area has improved i get better quality applicants.

    As has already been said , there’s effectively nothing you can do about it, keeping on good terms with your tenant may help, its all part of being a landlord.

    My personal favourite is the definition of “ i’ve given it a good clean and left it spotless” which has great variance in my experience and again is often not worth arguing about in all but the worst cases.

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    Thanks for the comments all. It's good to know I wasn't missing a secret trick.

    I guess in that time the best thing to do is keep the relationship as sweet as possible without letting the tenant know they have the upper hand (if they don't already know it!).

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    Having seen both sides of this going back as far as 1986, I can say that my experience with the genuinely bad tenants is that they leave owing more than 1 months rent and the property costs more to restore to rental standards than any deposit would cover.

    So in that regard, deposits are a poor device to protect the landlord (and certainly of limited use).

    However, I have found a disproportionate number of landlords consider the deposit as a legitimate part of their income.... And commonly retain deposits without justification - so I can see why a tenant would consider the deposit as a lost cause - and as such, pay rent up to the date they give notice (or receive notice) to quit.

    The only thing that has changed is legislation.

    In the first case I was involved with (a girlfriends flat) in 1986.... The landlord was a greedy son of a gun and withheld the whole deposit - despite the flat being left clean and tidy.... He claimed money for cleaning (despite it being left better than when she moved in) & lots of spurious nonsense from wear and tear to oven cleaning and gardening.... She lost the lot.

    In the most recent case, a friend returned a 5 bed house with gardens to the landlord - we carried out lots of work on the property to return it to a better standard than it started out... The landlord was obstinate, stubborn and incommunicative.... But thanks to the DPS appeals process, the claim, appeal and counter claim was considered and the deposit was returned in it's entirety.

    I'm afraid to say that it is mainly decent landlords who frequent propertytribes... And sadly, there are too many landlords out there who are nothing resembling decent - and I would not blame any tenant for being cautious about paying the last month's rent....

    I could tell you a story about the tenant who lost a quarter of a million pounds renting a property they only lived in for a couple of months.... But that one was something else! ?

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    > "I could tell you a story about the tenant who lost a quarter of a million pounds renting a property they only lived in for a couple of months.... But that one was something else! ?"

    You what?!?  You're going to have to explain that one Gary.

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    Serve s8g10: Yes, s8g10 may be validly served if only 1p is underpaid only 1 day.

    And explain, verbally, that you always copy s8 rent arrears to council & what "intentionally homeless" will mean.

    No reference or a full, honest, one.

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