My Tenant/Lodger Paid Her Deposit But Didn’t Move in

Bit of an odd one. It’s personally never happened to me, but I imagine it’s far short of being unbelievably uncommon.

This morning (Tuesday), just like most others, I was going through my early morning ritual of being totally unorganised, obscenely late and ill-prepared for my day. But Tuesday is always a little bit different because it’s the day my cleaner, Liz, makes an appearance, and we go through our own special ritual, which involves her looking around in disgust, wondering what the hell could have happened in the last 7 days to cause such disarray.

Life happened, lady. LIFE.

As usual, she’s working around me as I’m being a nuisance, trying to hide any incriminating evidence that she can later use as collateral. She’s the cleaner, yet she has the audacity to complain when she has to peel off used condoms from the kitchen floor tiles. What exactly is she being paid to do? But I digress.

She looked particularly troubled this morning, and I could tell something was on her mind, besides from her undisguised contempt for the mess I always leave her to deal with.

As she was hoovering around me, she glanced over, paused, and then asked for my opinion on an issue. My ears perked and she saw she had captured my attention. Was she about to confess her love for me? Was this cleaner/bachelor scene about to turn into what it should have been from day one? Classic porn.

If you’re sitting at the edge of your seats, with penis in hand, and Kleenex on standby, you’re going to be left disappointed. She begun explaining her very mundane predicament…

Lodger never turned up to move in

She’s been a live-in landlord for a while (which I never knew until now), and she recently acquired a new tenant to replace the previous one. The contracts have been signed, deposit and first months rent has been received and set of keys have been issued. The tenancy started approximately 4 weeks ago. The problem is, the tenant didn’t turn up on the start date as she agreed to, and she still hasn’t shown her face… Weird.

I must confess, I’m not entirely sure what the legal status is of the person renting the room, whether it be “tenant” or “lodger”, but for the sake of ease and familiarity, I’m going to refer to her as a tenant, because that’s all I’ve dealt with. I’ve only been a live-in sex-slave, never landlord. The laws do differ for all three.

Liz was liaising with the letting agent that was managing the deal to determine what the problem is. But she was getting nowhere, and became bored and fed-up of their disinterest in resolving the problem. She was being fed a bunch of excuses and several variations of “we’re on it” The agents should be managing the problem better, and 100% reimburse her, because she didn’t actually get what she paid for.

I can’t imagine that finding a tenant for a property that compromises a live-in landlord was a real money spinner for the agency, so I’m not surprised it wasn’t on their list of priorities. Like many eventually do, she’s lost her faith and patience with the agency, consequently, the relationship has turned sour and communication has come to a standstill.

Naturally, she was feeling mystified and irritated by the situation, but also cautious. So she took it upon herself to change the door locks as a safety precaution, because the tenant had been given a set of keys and she didn’t want her just randomly moving in at this point. Alarm bells were ringing, so she didn’t want to take any chances. Who could blame her, really?

In her mind, the tenant had crossed the line, and had now been flagged as a totally unreliable dipshit, so she understandably didn’t want anything to do with her- even if she did eventually resurface from the abyss.

Now, Liz is pretty worried, and understandably, because the agents have informed her that the tenant could prosecute her for changing the locks because the tenancy is still active. What a pickle.

She wanted my advice, which I was happy to dish out. But I knew she wouldn’t like what I was going to say, because while I’m on her side (to a certain degree), she may have shot herself in the foot here.

The situation explained

Before I gave her advice, I wanted to be frank with her, because… well, just because. Everyone needs Frank.

  • The door locks
    I’m not sure she should have changed the locks, it might be considered an illegal eviction. Or at least, she shouldn’t have changed the locks and told the letting agent. The tenant is still legally her tenant, despite the fact she has yet to move in 4 weeks after the agreed upon date.

    However, had the landlord refrained from informing the letting agent in regards to changing the locks, if it came down to it, she could have made up some dog-shit story about needing to change the locks because she lost her keys or something as equally shameless. But as it stands, the law is on the tenants side from what I’m aware. But I’m not entirely sure, because of the live-in landlord situation!

  • Delayed move in date
    Essentially, the only real crime the tenant has committed up until this point is delaying the move in date. Granted, that’s not a crime, but perhaps worthy of capital punishment. It’s just the total lack of communication which has caused concern. It’s just rude, innit? Who wants to live with someone like that? Of course, it’s still uncertain what her circumstances are.

    But the point is, the tenant hasn’t really done anything terribly wrong. But the tenancy has started on an awful foot, and it’s tough to recover from that, especially when you’re a live-in landlord. I completely understand why Liz doesn’t want the tenant to move in anymore.

  • Loss of rent
    It’s most likely she’s going to lose money at this point, purely from loss of rent. Sadly, it’s money she needs and replies on, so this is a tough pill to swallow.

    She was already thinking about finding replacement tenants, but I advised her against it. She needs to resolve the current problem properly, otherwise she could end up with a dysfunctional family drama, where she has two legal tenants fighting for the same room.

  • Legal rights
    Regardless of how irresponsibly and carelessly the tenant has behaved so far, she still has the legal rights to move into the property. That means if the tenant turns up today, she does have a right to move in. Of course, it will be terribly awkward for both parties.
  • Why? Why, oh why?
    Unfortunately, Liz had a terrible time understanding “why” anyone would behave in that nature, and why after all this, the tenant may want to a) move in b) prosecute her for changing the locks. In theory, the tenant could legally attempt do both those things.

    That’s the thing, people that lack decency don’t think like normal people, so it makes no difference if we can or can’t comprehend their mindset. The point is, we’re beautifully normal because we can’t fathom their actions.

    However, I was kind of taken back by how out of touch with reality Liz is, because she was genuinely startled and gob-smacked when I made the point of saying that the tenant might just cause problems for the sake of it. People often do that.

    Liz was left muttering, “but why would she do that? I can’t imagine it would happen”

    Oh, grow up, Liz, you fanny.

  • Options available
    The contract is for a 6 month duration, so as with all these matters, it might be a time consuming challenge to get the agreement terminated (which is what she wants). As far as I’m aware, Liz has 2 options.

  • The only option worth praying for is the first one, but I could be wrong. Does anyone know if there are any other legal options available in this situation? Seems like a pretty shitty deal for the landlord all round.

Oh, and I want to point out, I wasn’t talking to her in such a drill-Sargent fashion; I was sweet, understanding, caring, seductive and sexual, as per usual. So if any of you ever have any problems, whether it be about landlord life, life in general, or any itching sensations, please feel comfortable and reassured, you can come to me, friend.

Resolving the situation

Admittedly, Liz isn’t helping herself.

Actually, if I’m being honest, she’s being a bit of an ass-weasel about the whole situation, and consequently runs the risk of making things much worse than they need to be. That’s the common denominator in many of these landlord/tenant issues, people don’t help themselves, and then they wonder why the world is so unfair.

I told her to suck it up and communicate with the letting agent to find out what was going on (the agency has been in contact with the tenant). But she refuses, because as said, she can’t tolerate their shit anymore, and she’ll most likely have blood her on hands if she has to endure their incompetence any further. In her defence, I used the agency she’s using a few years ago- they are absolute worthless shit-for-brains assholes.

Then I suggested she talks directly to the tenant to see if the issue can be resolved amicably between themselves. Again, she refuses, because she thinks it will be too awkward, and she doesn’t want her to move into the property anyways.

For Fuck’s sake, Liz!

I don’t think she realises how dim-witted she’s being, it was kinda’ frustrating. She had this gormless look on her face the entire time which made it worse. It was pretty soul-destroying watching someone I consider to be a good and decent person act so irresponsibly and futile. She’s clearly not cut out to be a landlord, but that’s another issue, and it’s something she didn’t need to hear from me at the time.

In any case, I kept trying to press her into talking to the tenant, because there’s a good change the tenant has also changed her mind about the whole deal, so all they need to do is talk between themselves like a pair of men and get the tenancy terminated. Problem solved. That’s the problem these days, there’s too much pussy-footing around.

She still seemed unconvinced by my wisdom, and the gormless look on her face was starting to irritate me more and more. So, I was like, “well, what you going to do instead?”

This is when I lost all hope for her, and I was just about ready to throw my toast into her face, hoping the strawberry jam would enter her iris and cause temporary impaired vision. That would teach her for being so reckless. Apparently her master plan is to silently wait to see if the tenant chooses to prosecute her for changing the locks and refusing her entry *slaps forehead*

I mean, it’s not an unbelievably stupid plan, and the problem might just go away over time, but I’m not sure it’s the best idea. The best idea is simpler than that, pick up the bloody phone.

The best way to resolve landlord/tenant dilemmas is by being a man and talking it out. Allowing it to fester and hoping for the best outcome is not a solution, it’s a ticking time-bomb. Not-knowing is unbelievably stressful. I know Liz is stressed, I could see it. I wish she realised how easily the stress could be alleviated with in 5 mins if she just made the phonecall. I also appreciate how difficult confrontation can be. I find it extremely difficult, but from my experience, the mental build-up we create is a lot worse than the actual encounter. Some times we just need to do it, no matter how uncomfortable the prospect.

Alas, I can lead the donkey to water, but I can’t make it drink.

Future prevention for live-in landlords

Liz used a high-street agent to find her tenant, and I think that was the source of the problem (ignoring the fact she used a bunch of cowboys).

I can usually always make an argument for using a high-street letting agent, despite the fact that the majority of them are money-grabbing trolls. But the reputable ones do have their uses and can be extremely practical for some landlords. However, for live-in landlords, they’re utterly pointless. I wouldn’t advise any live-in landlord to use an high-street agent to find tenants, simply because it’s like using a sledge-hammer to crack a nut, and the premium you’re paying for that sledge-hammer equates to money down the shitter.

One of the main differences between a high-street agent and an online letting agent is that a high-street agent will take the viewings on behalf of the landlord, and of course, they whack on that premium for that privilege. But if you’re a live-in landlord, why wouldn’t you take your own viewings? It’s a fundamental necessity to do so, because you’re going to be living with that person, so you want to ensure you “click” during the viewing. You want to ensure you actually like the look and feel of that person. Common sense.

The last person I’d rely on to play match-maker is a letting agent. Not to mention, an online agent will charge you an average of £50, an high-street agent will charge you an average of £600 for the same inadequate service. You do the math!

Anyways, I gave her my advice (which she’ll most likely ignore), and I’ll find out next week if there’s been any development. During the dying minutes of our conversation, as I was about to fly out the door, I held her, just tightly enough so I could feel her breasts against my chest, and I whispered into her ear. I promised her i’d walk her through the online letting agent thing when the issue is resolved and she needs to find a new tenant.

Well, everything but the hug/breast-press was true.

If anyone is going through this kind of dilemma, I would strongly advice being professional by communicating. Being a landlord is all about managing people. For more advice, it might be worth reading my blog post on dealing with tenants and late rent, because it covers a lot of the same principles on how to deal with these situations.

Does anyone have any further insight or experience with any similar situations? Is there a piece of legislation that I’m unaware of that might protect the landlord in this situation? Seems like there should be (unless there are genuine extenuating circumstances to support the tenants case, like a unforeseen bereavement), but then again, this is UK Landlord Law. Sigh.

Update

I just wanted to make a quick update on this for anyone else that stumbles across this blog post and is in a very similar situation.

It’s come to light, thanks to some brilliant comments left below, that it is legally impossible for someone renting a room in the same house as a live-in landlord to have an assured shorthold tenancy. So essentially, the person renting from Liz is legally a “lodger” and not a “tenant” My guess is that the letting agent wrongfully treated the situation exactly like an AST i.e. used tenancy agreements and secured the deposit into a tenancy deposit scheme. When legally, a lodger license is required and a deposit doesn’t need to be secured into a deposit scheme.

So what does that mean? It means the situation isn’t as complicated as it first appeared. All Liz needs to do is serve one month’s notice to the lodger in written form, either by recorded delivery letter on any alternate address she has for the lodger, or failing that, even email, Facebook or text. Live in landlords can just give “reasonable notice” to licensees (without having to specify a reason).

Please read comment #3 by Trainee_LL and especially comment #7 by Mandy Thomson for more in-depth explanations!

23 Comments- Join The Conversation...

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Zetita 30th July, 2014 @ 12:13

I can't even start to think why in the hell a tenant would pay and not move in. Maybe an accident? Maybe an alien abduction?? Whatever the reason, I can't imagine what's the fuss about paying a call to that tenant!! The phone won't bite you, lady! What's wrong with her???

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Zetita 30th July, 2014 @ 12:19

Now i'm thinking... I'll set a business for stupid landlords called 'Let-Me-manage-It'. A couple of shouts in the phone, several menacing remarks and loads of money in my pocket. Given that it should be the letting agency's job but is not the case.. Who knows... My Ad would say: I'm latin. Believe me, I KNOW how to shout properly. jhahjajahja

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Trainee_LL 30th July, 2014 @ 12:22

@Landlord

What you’ve said here is correct when the tenant has an AST, of course. But in this case there cannot be an AST in place, because the Housing Act 1988 has a specific exclusion for tenancies with a live-in landlord (see: http://www.lodgerlandlord.co.uk/2010/04/06/do-deposits-from-lodgers-need-to-be-protected/ ). What the ‘tenant’ has in this case is probably an ‘excluded tenancy’ or an ‘excluded license’, and that means the eviction procedure changes – for example Section 21 won’t apply. I say “probably” because it depends on the details of the agreement between the landlord and the tenant/lodger. See here for more information:

http://www.lodgerlandlord.co.uk/2010/02/01/day-1-what-is-a-lodger-2/
and:
http://www.lodgerlandlord.co.uk/2010/04/14/evicting-lodger-without-a-court-order-when-can-you-do-it/

(No, I'm not being paid to advertise Tessa's site ;-) but I've found it to be one of the better sources of information specific to live-in landlords.)

It gets more interesting -- not in a good way -- if, as seems quite likely, the #$@%^! agent has simply photocopied their bog standard, dog-eared AST (a bargain at only £50-a-time) and had the landlord and tenant sign it. In this case, it’s probably worth the landlord’s time (and expense) taking legal advice to find out where she stands (hey, it’s cheaper than defending a charge of unlawful eviction). Or, you know, pick up the phone and try to sort it out with the tenant like you said ;-)

Anyway, that’s my $0.02 – I am not a lawyer, etc., etc.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 30th July, 2014 @ 12:48

@Zetita
That's actually a good business plan ha. I bet there's many landlords that hate confrontation, and would pay someone else to handle the issue for a one-off fee!

@Trainee_LL
Ahh you're right! I didn't realise there couldn't legally be an AST in place when there's a live-in landlord, although I suspected there would be different rules being applied.

I'm guessing you're right about the agent using bog standard AST. I did ask Liz if she signed an AST, and she said yes!

I have no idea what the law stipulates about this situation in this case. Again, the best solution still leads back to contacting the tenant.

Thanks for the $0.02, I've learnt something new that's useful! Much appreciated :)

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boboff 31st July, 2014 @ 07:04

You have a cleaner!

Lazy Arsed Posh git!

My guess as to the reason for the no show is a bit of marital disharmony rectified, soon to be un-rectified when the old man works out she's blown £1000 + on an un-used bolt hole.

Have you checked she's secured the deposit?

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 31st July, 2014 @ 08:05

@boboff

Ha, I knew I should have written a disclaimer about the cleaner situation!

I'm not rich, and I'm not lazy, but my cleaner is a necessity, just like my personal chef. I don't have the time to deal with dust and cob-webs! You think I pull these blogs out of my arse? Don't answer that...

Well, the tenancy deposit only applies to assured shorthold tenancies, and since it's legally impossible for someone renting a room in the same house as a live-in landlord to have an assured shorthold tenancy, I don't think it matters.

But I did ask, and she said the letting agent dealt with it. It was a bit of an airy fairy response, and I don't think she realised what I was asking. I do have a sneaky suspension that Trainee_LL is correct though, and that the letting agent has wrongfully treated the situation exactly like an AST i.e. secured the deposit and given the tenant/landlord tenancy agreements to sign. Fools!

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Mandy Thomson 31st July, 2014 @ 08:22

@Trainee landlord is correct insofar as the "tenant" is in fact most likely a licensee - it doesn't matter if a paper AST has been drawn up - the law will override.

I'm assuming that your cleaner and her lodger would be sharing living accommodation (i.e. bathroom and cooking facilities and possibly lounge)? Please see here for more definition of a lodger: http://www.lodgersite.com/What_is_a_Lodger.html

If this is the case, it's quite easy. The lodger simply has the protection (under consumer law) of the contract she signed. Therefore, I would advise Liz to serve one month's notice on her - please see this link for more detail on lodger notice periods http://www.lodgersite.com/Serving_Notice_and_Eviction_Notice_Periods.html.

She should do this in some written form - she can serve a recorded delivery letter on any alternate address she has for the lodger, or failing that, even email, Facebook or text - legally, this doesn't need to be in writing, but if it is Liz has evidence that she at least attempted to serve notice should the lodger then take her to the small claims court to reclaim her deposit/rent.

Live in landlords can just give "reasonable notice" to licensees (without having to specify a reason), but this is down to interpretation - as one month is the standard, this is normally considered more than reasonable in this situation; this was the advice I was given by Giles Peake, solicitor with Anthony Gold, when I double checked this area with him.

As for the deposit, Liz is entitled to deduct her month's rent, but needs to pay back any remainder. If the first month's rent hasn't been covered, she would have a claim against the lodger.

As for changing the locks, I would simply hope the agent hasn't mentioned this to the lodger. If the lodger should try to move in before her notice has expired, she is legally entitled to and as you suggested, Liz can simply say she had to change the locks (e.g. she lost her keys) and the agent (if they've mentioned it) got hold of the wrong end of the stick - it would after all just be one person's word against another's.

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Mandy Thomson 31st July, 2014 @ 08:25

P.S. Can I just add that if the lodger would have her own bathroom and cooking facilities, this is likely to make her an excluded tenant - Liz would have to seek a court order and should get legal advice.

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Sel 31st July, 2014 @ 08:28

Hello luv

"elevated" - i think you mean alleviated.

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Nige 31st July, 2014 @ 08:30

Yep had similar. She moved in but rectified things with her husband 3 days later !! Charged her until we got new tenant,

Had slightly better one.
I had one tenant give his x wife the house and he went without telling us !!

Luckily there were authorities involved in the let so he had to answer to them and I had to sort legal wrangle to allow x wife to take on tenancy.

You think of a problem. The tenants will find another one to scramble your brains and cost you money.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 31st July, 2014 @ 08:31

Hi Mandy!

Brilliant, thank you for all that- I was hoping you would shed some light on the issue. Makes a lot of sense, and it's actually a relief that Liz only needs to serve one month's notice. I'm sure she'll be super relieved!

She's definitely a lodger, as every part of the house is communal besides from the bedrooms.

Thanks again!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 31st July, 2014 @ 08:32

@Sel

Thanks, babez. Issue has been rectified :)

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 31st July, 2014 @ 08:33

@Nige

"You think of a problem. The tenants will find another one to scramble your brains and cost you money."

haha, that's so true! It's never ending.

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charlie victor 31st July, 2014 @ 08:37

You say a prospective tenant paid a deposit but did not turn up. Did you say the tenant paid any rent?

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 31st July, 2014 @ 08:41

Hi Charlie,

Yup, I said, "The contracts have been signed, deposit and first months rent has been received and set of keys have been issued"

That's what makes it a particularly odd situation, because relatively speaking, a lot of money is left on the table (I imagine).

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emma 31st July, 2014 @ 09:21

I know someone who had a similar situation although it was a tenant renting their house on an AST. They paid deposit, first months rent, moved furniture in and then one week later the landlord got a call from the tenants boss to say they'd gone back home (turkish I believe) and didn't want the house. They kept the money, sold the furniture and re-rented straight away.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 31st July, 2014 @ 09:33

@emma

Your cute fairytale ending has left a bitter taste in my mouth :)

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emma 31st July, 2014 @ 10:20

It would be nice if all tits up tenancies had the same quick happy ending !

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Tom 14th August, 2014 @ 13:29

Well, what is the problem?
Liz acted not in the right way. There is no legal obligation to move in. Change the locks could be bring her in trouble.

Well it is correct that it is a lack of communication.

BUT the situation is not uncommon.
I know it from colleagues they have to often stay out of town for half a year or so, so going out on Monday coming back on Friday. To save money they avoid hotels, rent a room. In this situation it could happened that the project start changes sometimes. So they will move in later but will pay the rent.

Of course she can give the notice BUT the situation is at the moment she is in the breach of contract.
Furthermore it could be a problem with delivering the notice and she is responsible to proof that and when the tenant/lodger received the notice.

I personally would wait if the next rent is coming or not.

I had tenants before, they send me a message that they are now abroad for a quarter or so. That is fine as long as the rent was on time, what it was. The advantage as landlord is, no damage, no noise etc.

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emma 14th August, 2014 @ 13:49

For absent tenants, you need to notify the insurance company !! Something about house being empty for set number of days. You aren't covered for escape of water unless its turned off nor burst rad's unless you drain system or its left on 24 hours.
Possibly mortgage company too???

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 15th August, 2014 @ 07:14

Hi emma,

I think that's only if the property is vacant/unoccupied. In this case, the landlord is live-in. Also, not sure if a BTL building insurance policy is required, just a regular residential might do.

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Mark 8th September, 2014 @ 20:44

The same happened to me and it was all my fault and I have been a landlord
For many yeArs

Tenant has senior job in local company and has worked there for a decade

Being an idiot I accepted a cheque post dated two weeks for deposit and
First month to coincide with pay date

She signed check in and had new sofas delivered and two weeks
Into tenancy said she was not moving in and returned keys

She now does not respond to my e mails and as I think she has moved seems
Little point in taking to court

Let quite quickly by local agent to new tenant but I have to pay agency fee. The morL is do not accept post dTed cheque no matter the references

M

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Zetita 17th September, 2014 @ 18:02

heh, now you are tempting me! xD

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