Re: Ask The Mineshaft: Eviction Edition

1

It probably wouldn't hurt if the letter indicated that you expect to receive 3x your deposit for the penalty as well as the original deposit.

It might also be a good idea to see if the claim about escrow (something not mentioned in the post) is actually true.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:26 PM
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I interpreted 'in a protected scheme' as meaning escrow, but of course you're right that Hampstead didn't use the word.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:28 PM
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BURN THAT SHIT DOWN


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:33 PM
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Frankly, I wouldn't be inclined to be even a little bit polite or cooperative in a situation like this and would gloat at the ruination of the landlord's holiday (boo hoo). I also wouldn't be inclined to settle for a merely "decent-ish" new place that I had to scramble to find if notice hasn't even been given yet and wouldn't be effective for two months after whenever it is given.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:34 PM
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Of course, the landlord has their money. While he doesn't have a legal leg to stand on, getting that money back might provde difficult and time consuming if it gets 'legal', so being a little bit cooperative, even though he's acting like a prick, might be expedient.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:38 PM
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Not sure that the letter should include the current plans to move out. I'd end the letter with "you are not entitled to demand that", etc., and see what you can do about securing the treble damages while you make arrangements to move to the new place. It's great that you have it lined up, but it could fall through, and you shouldn't let your landlord know it's going to happen until you're safely ensconced there.

Presumably then the landlord will come to you about negotiating something that doesn't involve all these nasty rules and regulations; if you're feeling generous and the new place is still going to happen, you can let the landlord off the hook.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:38 PM
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I thought everyone in the UK got free housing from their nanny-state government. Did Cameron ruin that, too?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:40 PM
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you can let the landlord off the hook.

Unless what you negotiate that doesn't involve all those nasty rules and regulations bears more than a passing similarity to what you'd get that does involve them, why would you do him/her the favor?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:46 PM
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To be done with it.

Your call, of course. I find ongoing legal conflict, even penny-ante bullshit, unduly stressing.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:49 PM
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That's how the pricks win, k-sky.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:50 PM
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Not sure that the letter should include the current plans to move out.

Agreed with k-sky here.

I'm afraid I'd take a hard line here as well, and have done so in the past (a somewhat similar case, in which one month's notice was given when two were legally required). In that case I referred to the law rather quickly, though I adopted a naive tone: "Oh, I see it turns out that you're legally required to give us two months notice, and perhaps you didn't realize that, but what this means is that we'll be out in two months, which should suffice."

And it did. I'm not sure that in Hampstead's case I'd go all the way to demanding the triple penalty on the deposit.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:50 PM
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I'm not sure that in Hampstead's case I'd go all the way to demanding the triple penalty on the deposit.

Uh, what? MONEY.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:59 PM
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I mean maybe it'll turn out to be a big hassle. But maybe not! Maybe the landlord will be easily cowed! And remember, it is sweet and proper to take pricks for as much as the law will let one.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:03 PM
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Another way to think about it, is if the landlord acknowledges that you hold all the cards -- what's your price? If the landlord really wants to get the show furniture in and go on holiday, then s/he needs to pay to put you up in a hotel for a week, move you into storage, and a premium on top of that.

It's probably not worth all that to the landlord, but it's not outside the realm of possibility. To evict someone from a rent-stabilized apartment or house in Los Angeles requires a payment of $7000 or $14000 for qualified tenants.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:04 PM
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It's not that I'm grasping, it's that I'm filled with the fervor of the righteous.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:05 PM
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I don't know what the system looks like in the UK, but in most US cities there are places where you can go for free legal advice, and sometimes free representation if you don't have much money, on these kinds of things. If available, do that -- you'll at least know what your options are, and might get someone to take on some of the hassle for you.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I did my job in the UK. Would I really get to wear a wig? That would be totally freaky.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:08 PM
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Halford, no one's stopping you from wearing a wig to court this very day. Be the change, man.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:09 PM
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It's just that I think a LOT of landlords actually don't do the escrow (what we're assuming Hampstead means by "protected scheme") thing, so it seems excessively punishing to call them on that.

Now, if they fight over the 2 months' notice, that's a different story. Then I'd consider pulling out all the stops, including mentioning the 3x deposit penalty, the possibility of bringing a lawyer into it, and all the rest. Otherwise I'm not the fighting kind.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:14 PM
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I'm the fighting kind. Your landlord has a set of obligations to you and - as long as you know what those obligations are - mentioning this fact politely seems necessary. Like k-sky, I think your moving plans are none of your landlord's business.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:20 PM
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It's just that I think a LOT of landlords actually don't do the escrow

Why do you think that?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:20 PM
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20: I don't know. I'm actually not sure how one knows this. I've rented all my life, once I started renting, that is, and I've never particularly known whether a landlord had done that. I appear to have concluded that they probably did not, but that may be unwarranted, eh?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:27 PM
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Also, customs may vary in different countries.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:29 PM
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Speaking of suspecting one's landlord of not doing things, I may have relayed previously that I'm pretty sure my landlord didn't do the credit check on any of us but demanded $100 for it. I say this, because there's no bug-fucking way he'd rent to my roommates based on what their credit score must be.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:31 PM
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Well, you need to know what it means to "fight." Does it mean you have to show up in a trial, with evidence, to block the eviction? Does the landlord have any potential arguments? How, exactly, does the fine get calculated, and when and how do you get it? What might a UK landlord-tenant court actually do in cases like this? J

Just looking at a statute book is unlikely to give you an answer (unless you know enough to have some deeper folk knowledge of the process).

You'd need to have some idea about all of that before you could realistically figure out what you could bargain for. But once you do, bargain away.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:31 PM
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Shorter 24: Process matters. A lot. If one says "you can't do that to me", it's best to know how one will respond if one's adversary responds along the lines of "so what are you going to do about it?"


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:34 PM
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Which is not to say that there's anything wrong with 24, which is completely correct and appropriate.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:34 PM
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What LB said; what ttaM said. I'd be cooperative, and I would specify the day you would utterly out as being the day after you expect to be 100% into the new place. I just wouldn't mention the new place: 'We'll be out by, etc. etc.' When & if he brings it up, then mention the two months.

And then if he brings it up again, the mention the 3x penalty and the failure of the clock to run. Another words, just say the minimum and volley it back to the landlord every time he comes back to you.

m, 'keeping some ammo and units in reserve, they call it'


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:21 PM
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It's just that I think a LOT of landlords actually don't do the escrow (what we're assuming Hampstead means by "protected scheme")

It's not the escrow, it's the lack of notice.

Here's something that I would guess (without admittedly much justification) most landlords, especially small-time landlords, don't do: put tenants' deposits in interest-bearing accounts, the interest to be given when the deposit is returned.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:26 PM
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i'm kind of surprised by the idea that you get deposits back. i thought that was just assumed to be gone because you can't get it back without lots of hassle and legal fees.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:44 PM
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29: Really. I've always gotten my deposits back. I have never gotten interest, but I've always gotten the deposit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:45 PM
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30: Me, too. Just clean up the wine spills, and Bob's your uncle.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:47 PM
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And put a tarp down next time before you do that, yoyo.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:49 PM
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Nope, never gotten interest. I was confusedly thinking that an escrow account was sort of the same as an interest-bearing account, and since I've never gotten interest back, assumed there'd been no escrow. Or something.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:55 PM
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Huh. Maybe MA drills this into landlords more than most places do, but even the crazy landlord I had who talked out loud to himself and called himself different names depending on the day of the week managed to keep our security deposit in a separate interest-bearing account (A couple of other landlords decided that that was too much hassle and didn't bother to collect a security deposit at all). And all the landlords who took deposits were aware that in order to keep the deposit, they had to (a) have documentation of the condition when we moved in (b) documentation of damage when we moved out and (c) credible estimates of the repair costs for each.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:22 PM
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i shouldn't be too hard, the last year or so i haven't actually bothered to look at what my water/sewage charge is, i just make up a number between 5 and 15 dollars and tack it onto my rent.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:11 PM
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Holy crap! Security deposits that accumulate interest? I would have thought that was impossible by definition.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:14 PM
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Ned doesn't believe in the time value of money.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:35 PM
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36: They do by law in West Hollywood. We get a small check every year for the interest.

Our landlord is a silly twit. He either thinks he's a lawyer or is paying one for bad advice. Every once in a while we have to demonstrate we have far more free legal firepower available than he can possibly afford to go up against and we're quite willing to use it.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 11:26 PM
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Shelter [UK housing charity] have a guide to the law surrounding this issue, btw.

Basically, from 2007 onwards, landlords are required by law to pay your deposit into a Tenancy Deposity Protection Scheme.

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/paying_for_a_home/tenancy_deposits/deposit_protection_schemes

Those deposit protection providers are required to provide a dispute resolution service for instances where the tenant and the landlord disagree over the deposit. Before 2007, the landlord has no obligation to deposit the money in one of those schemes, and the only dispute resolution is to go via the county court system:

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/paying_for_a_home/tenancy_deposits/getting_an_unprotected_deposit_back/going_to_court

Finally, Shelter also have a guide to what happens in cases of eviction:

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/eviction

The Government has a website on the same topic here:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/HomeAndCommunity/Keepingyourhomeevictionsandhomelessness/LosingYourHome/DG_10014595

Essentially the local council have the power to deal with landlords trying to evict tenants in violation of their tenancy agreeement.

Shelter have an advice line, where you can talk to someone [the number is on their site], but the other standard source of advice in a case like this would be the Citizens Advice Bureau.

The one time I was in a similar situation my union* provided me with a lawyer, free of charge, who monstered the landlord on my behalf. One sternly worded letter from a law firm was all it took to make him shit himself.

* this was in the days when I was a low-paid TGWU member


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-24-10 12:32 AM
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http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/eviction/eviction_of_private_tenants/the_rules_by_tenancy_type/assured_shorthold_tenants

That basically sums up the situation, which is (assuming you are still within the fixed term of your rental agreement) that the landlord can take a flying fuck at himself. However, I'd still be inclined personally to try and avoid the hassle of getting 'legal' over something like this if I possibly could. If the tenancy agreement has expired and you have a rolling 'periodic' agreement, the situation might be different.

It also looks like, in particular, if (as the OP says) the deposit isn't in a protection scheme, the landlord has even less of a legal leg to stand on as one of the standard eviction procedures isn't available to them.

But IANAL.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-24-10 12:40 AM
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time is a myth invented in 1954.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-24-10 2:04 AM
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That's when it was added to the Pledge of Allegiance.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-24-10 2:09 AM
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Breakfast in sunny Hampstead much improved by reading all the fantastic comments. Sincere thanks to Lizardbreath and all of you from both myself and Mrs Hampstead.

Around two days ago, I was feeling fairly sanguine about the whole business; I think it was the 'we can't be flexible about this because we want to maximise our sale value by staging the flat before we go on holiday' line of argument that decisively bumped me out of that mood. After all, we'd signalled our cooperative intentions fairly clearly, I thought.

From now on, communications will be on the robust end of diplomatic - undiplomatic, even - and will have the aim of maximising our convenience and minimising our expense. And we will consider going to a lawyer via a CAB if it looks like the message isn't getting through.

I didn't know about the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, so thanks for that, ttaM. My guess is that this is more for those situations where locks are changed and possessions dumped on the street, but will check it out.

Finally, the destination flat is probably better than decent-ish, albeit for more rent; so myself, I don't feel too sorry for us.


Posted by: Homeless in Hampstead | Link to this comment | 04-24-10 3:00 AM
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more for those situations where locks are changed and possessions dumped on the street

Indeed, but it's worth noting that many police officers are unaware of the Protection from Eviction Act, and in their ignorance support the perpetrators of the crime rather than the victims.

See for example Cowan Avon & Somerset Constabulary, or Khan v. Iqbal.


Posted by: Gareth Rees | Link to this comment | 04-24-10 4:57 AM
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28: "most landlords, especially small-time landlords, don't do: put tenants' deposits in interest-bearing accounts, the interest to be given when the deposit is returned."

I always got interest; sometimes I may even have held the books on the account. On the other hand it was in Germany. Regulations abound.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 04-25-10 12:03 AM
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Our last landlord, having inspected the flat and accepted the keys as in good condition, then suddenly demanded hundreds of pounds' worth of work on it (presumably having remembered after a week that he still had the deposit and could therefore fuck with us). This after I bought out the remainder of the tenancy.

We consulted a lawyer; the lawyer asked if the money was in a protected deposit scheme as per section (I forget) of the Housing Act; it wasn't; a nastygram was sent referring to this; the deposit was returned. I strongly recommend this course of action. (I think the Opinionated Academic's union provided members with x hours' free legal advice.)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-25-10 3:23 AM
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