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Law Students - Is This Illegal?? watch

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    I'll give you a summary of my problem.

    I had trouble paying my last rent cheque. To stop my landlord from taking me to court my girlfriend paid them £300 in my name with the understanding that she'll get it back when I pay the full amount.

    I was eligible for a bursary from university, they paid directly to my landlord the full amount. This means the landlord owes us the £300 back. They will not give the money back, they worry that I won't pay for the next rent period in May, even though I told them i'll have the money from student loans by then.
    They won't give us our money back until I give them written confirmation that I will pay on 1st May. If I write to them it will effectively be a new contract binding me to pay it on that specific date.

    As it happens I won't be paying the full amount because of the bad service they've given all year, they're the landlords from hell and I'm not the only one withholding rent (It's a large residence) and we have evidence that we'll use in the event of court. They don't know we won't be paying yet though, they only suspect it.

    The fact is, i'm sure it's illegal for somebody to keep my money for a payment that's not even due yet.

    Without this money we can't afford to buy food, and my girlfriend's phone contract will be coming out soon which means we'll get bank charges because of the money we were expecting but haven't been given back. Now we're scrounging for food until student loans come in :\


    Sorry for posting in H&R, it does technically fall under here, it also gets more exposure
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    Short answer: it depends on if, and what, you signed when your girlfriend paid, and also your existing contract.

    Tbh, I'm a crap law student so... *kanye shrugs*. Take it to a free legal advice centre. Your uni may have one.
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    If you are witholding rent, the court will see it that you are in the wrong, regardless. Witholding rent is never a good idea and will not solve your dispute.

    Pay them what you owe them and are bound by contract to pay and lodge a claim in the small claims court for any money they owe you. If you tell them you are going to do this chances are they will give you the money back to avoid the hassle.

    If they know you aren't going to pay your rent, which you are contractually obliged to do, I don't blame them at all for keeping hold of the money.
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    (Original post by Vohamanah)
    If you are witholding rent, the court will see it that you are in the wrong, regardless. Witholding rent is never a good idea and will not solve your dispute.

    Pay them what you owe them and are bound by contract to pay and lodge a claim in the small claims court for any money they owe you. If you tell them you are going to do this chances are they will give you the money back to avoid the hassle.

    If they know you aren't going to pay your rent, which you are contractually obliged to do, I don't blame them at all for keeping hold of the money.
    I've not told them i'm not going to pay my rent. I told them on the phone today that I will be paying my rent in full, but they still won't give me money back.

    I might sound like a ****, but you have no idea what i've been through this year with these landlords. I don't have a normal tenancy agreement. We're also paying for other services such as cleaning. We'll be paying for our rent, but not for other services that they haven't provided us with. Like I said I have proof of why they don't deserve all of the rent and i'm willing to go to court when the time is right.

    This is ignoring the point though. As far as their concerned at this point we're all paying for rent, i've not told them otherwise.
    They have no right to keep my money when I don't even owe them yet!!!!!
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    (Original post by Arteta)
    I've not told them i'm not going to pay my rent. I told them on the phone today that I will be paying my rent in full, but they still won't give me money back.

    I might sound like a ****, but you have no idea what i've been through this year with these landlords. I don't have a normal tenancy agreement. We're also paying for other services such as cleaning. We'll be paying for our rent, but not for other services that they haven't provided us with. Like I said I have proof of why they don't deserve all of the rent and i'm willing to go to court when the time is right.

    This is ignoring the point though. As far as their concerned at this point we're all paying for rent, i've not told them otherwise.
    They have no right to keep my money when I don't even owe them yet!!!!!
    Witholding rent is only going to cause more problems, but *shrugs*

    Like I said, tell them you're going to put in a claim at the small claims court. Give them a reasonable time (14 days?) to respond and then if they don't, put in a claim.
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    Oh I forgot to say that the only reason they suspect we may not pay full rent next time is because they know how bad their service has been, they know i'm not happy and we have pending Unipol inspections. They've had MANY complaints this year and I think they know that there may be a large group of students that won't pay the full amount, they're preparing now and they don't want to let any money get away.
    I think it's illegal though.

    I'm going to the CAB tomorrow, but i'm trying to research tonight.
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    (Original post by Vohamanah)
    Witholding rent is only going to cause more problems, but *shrugs*

    Like I said, tell them you're going to put in a claim at the small claims court. Give them a reasonable time (14 days?) to respond and then if they don't, put in a claim.
    Like I said the rent is due on 1st May, by the time court rolls around it'll be time to pay them rent anyway and all will be forgotten.

    They've already had over 2 weeks (maybe 3) to pay back and haven't.

    You say withholding rent is a bad idea, but you don't live here. This is a large residence of around 50 students. As it stands I have a few petitions currently with around 130 signatures total and I haven't finished speaking to everybody. These petitions say that the internet hasn't worked all year and has affected their degrees, the cleaner hasn't been cleaning when we pay for it, that we've had security breaches and management have known about it, that things haven't been fixed for months and in one case has created an illness for a student. We've also got the majority of students signing to say that management enter our rooms without our consent and even throw away our property.
    As I also said earlier they're being investigated by a 3rd party.

    There are other things I can't prove, like threats from the management who have bragged about knowing my personal details and have threatened my physically, but I can't go to the police because I can't prove it. I've also learned that they're illegally trying to gain information on us via our internet and have admitted to hoping to get some juicy info from our census forms. They've intercepted letters also.

    And you say that withholding rent is a 'bad idea'? I'm paying my full rent but not the other charges and I have enough proof to make it work.

    This company is dirty, not only are they expecting my money, but they're basically sticking two fingers to customer service and laughing in my face. There's no ****ing way i'm paying them all my money.
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    Going to the CAB is probably going to be a waste of time. I volunteered at the CAB for 2 years and have the utmost respect for the work they do, but its a civil dispute. All they will do is potentially help you write a letter to the landlord saying "give me my money" and in the alternative advise you to make a small claim. If you're going to a drop in clinic you could be waiting for hours for that advice.

    Lodging a small claim is really very easy. Its not a traditional court with barristers etc. Its just a case of collecting a form from the court (or online), filling in some information on what's happened and returning it with a fee (which you get back from the other side if you win). They will send you a trial date if the landlord disputes the debt and then you go along and tell the judge what happened. Like I say, chances are if you threaten the landlord with the hassle of having to defend a claim they will back down and pay your money back.

    EDIT: I'm saying witholding your rent is a bad idea. You are contractually obliged to pay them rent. Even if they have already broken the terms of the contract the court will still see you as being in the wrong for witholding the rent you owe. You evidently disagree, but nothing you have said has changed my opinion.

    EDIT (again): OK so you want your money back and can't wait enough time to go though proper channels. My only other suggestion is to mug them (note: all advice is unprofessional )
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    (Original post by Arteta)
    Like I said the rent is due on 1st May, by the time court rolls around it'll be time to pay them rent anyway and all will be forgotten.

    They've already had over 2 weeks (maybe 3) to pay back and haven't.

    You say withholding rent is a bad idea, but you don't live here. This is a large residence of around 50 students. As it stands I have a few petitions currently with around 130 signatures total and I haven't finished speaking to everybody. These petitions say that the internet hasn't worked all year and has affected their degrees, the cleaner hasn't been cleaning when we pay for it, that we've had security breaches and management have known about it, that things haven't been fixed for months and in one case has created an illness for a student. We've also got the majority of students signing to say that management enter our rooms without our consent and even throw away our property.
    As I also said earlier they're being investigated by a 3rd party.

    There are other things I can't prove, like threats from the management who have bragged about knowing my personal details and have threatened my physically, but I can't go to the police because I can't prove it. I've also learned that they're illegally trying to gain information on us via our internet and have admitted to hoping to get some juicy info from our census forms. They've intercepted letters also.

    And you say that withholding rent is a 'bad idea'? I'm paying my full rent but not the other charges and I have enough proof to make it work.

    This company is dirty, not only are they expecting my money, but they're basically sticking two fingers to customer service and laughing in my face. There's no ****ing way i'm paying them all my money.
    This is really confusing - you're saying you want to withold rent but then you've paid them rent but not the other charges?

    Also how cheap is your rent?!! £300 for the last rental period and the next is due in May?

    You are contractually bound to pay rent so if you withold it, even though you feel you have good reason to, you are breaking a covenant in the lease. This will only go against you in the long run if it ends up in court which is sounds like it will if there are over 50 residents witholding money.

    I don't really know the law on witholding payment (ie. them holding your money), read through your contract and lease and see if anything mentions this. Also do they have a headoffice you can speak to?

    If there's so many of you I would advise going to a solicitor and finding out for sure what your rights are. Maybe receiving a solicitors letter will be enough to kick them into action and pay your money back.

    Again check your lease in regards to the services they were supposed to be providing them as that will be a breach on their part. However leases are written very cleverly by landlords to protect them but there are many implied terms that can be used against them. Again a solicitor will best be able to advise you.
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    (Original post by underthesky)
    This is really confusing - you're saying you want to withold rent but then you've paid them rent but not the other charges?

    Also how cheap is your rent?!! £300 for the last rental period and the next is due in May?

    You are contractually bound to pay rent so if you withold it, even though you feel you have good reason to, you are breaking a covenant in the lease. This will only go against you in the long run if it ends up in court which is sounds like it will if there are over 50 residents witholding money.

    I don't really know the law on witholding payment (ie. them holding your money), read through your contract and lease and see if anything mentions this. Also do they have a headoffice you can speak to?

    If there's so many of you I would advise going to a solicitor and finding out for sure what your rights are. Maybe receiving a solicitors letter will be enough to kick them into action and pay your money back.

    Again check your lease in regards to the services they were supposed to be providing them as that will be a breach on their part. However leases are written very cleverly by landlords to protect them but there are many implied terms that can be used against them. Again a solicitor will best be able to advise you.
    Ok, forget that I ever told you i'm going to withhold rent for a second. The problem is as follows:

    My rent of ~£1,100 was due in around March. I couldn't pay it at that time so I paid £300 just to stop them from going to court to buy me time for my bursary to come in. The bursary has paid for my rent, now I need the £300 back.
    They won't give me the £300 back because they want to keep it for part of the next period due on May 1st.

    Does that make it easier?

    I'll reply to the second part of your post in the next one.
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    (Original post by Vohamanah)
    Going to the CAB is probably going to be a waste of time. I volunteered at the CAB for 2 years and have the utmost respect for the work they do, but its a civil dispute. All they will do is potentially help you write a letter to the landlord saying "give me my money" and in the alternative advise you to make a small claim. If you're going to a drop in clinic you could be waiting for hours for that advice.

    Lodging a small claim is really very easy. Its not a traditional court with barristers etc. Its just a case of collecting a form from the court (or online), filling in some information on what's happened and returning it with a fee (which you get back from the other side if you win). They will send you a trial date if the landlord disputes the debt and then you go along and tell the judge what happened. Like I say, chances are if you threaten the landlord with the hassle of having to defend a claim they will back down and pay your money back.

    EDIT: I'm saying witholding your rent is a bad idea. You are contractually obliged to pay them rent. Even if they have already broken the terms of the contract the court will still see you as being in the wrong for witholding the rent you owe. You evidently disagree, but nothing you have said has changed my opinion.

    EDIT (again): OK so you want your money back and can't wait enough time to go though proper channels. My only other suggestion is to mug them (note: all advice is unprofessional )
    I could look into a small claims court, but I have a feeling i'll get nowhere. If we can get money to last us until student loans then this whole £300 doesn't matter too much, but it's the principle of it.

    I understand what you're saying but why is it a bad idea if I can prove that they're not holding their end of the contract? I keep getting the feeling from everybody that I should just shut up and pay, and be grateful that they didn't give me a worse service.

    Does this mean that so long as i've agreed to pay, the landlord can do whatever he wants because I have to pay that money?

    This is just bull****. I've had the worst service imaginable for a student accommodation and it's been more of a hinderance on my life than a help.

    Not all 50 students will withhold some rent. I don't know how many yet though.
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    Ahhhh ok that does make a lot more sense!

    Even so, you are contractually bound to pay rent and witholding it will cause problems. Like Vohamanah said, you should lodge a small claim.

    By doing things properly it will only make you look better and the landlord more unreasonable by not paying your money back. It will also help your claim at the end when you dispute the final rent payment.
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    (Original post by Arteta)
    I could look into a small claims court, but I have a feeling i'll get nowhere. If we can get money to last us until student loans then this whole £300 doesn't matter too much, but it's the principle of it.

    I understand what you're saying but why is it a bad idea if I can prove that they're not holding their end of the contract? I keep getting the feeling from everybody that I should just shut up and pay, and be grateful that they didn't give me a worse service.

    Does this mean that so long as i've agreed to pay, the landlord can do whatever he wants because I have to pay that money?

    This is just bull****. I've had the worst service imaginable for a student accommodation and it's been more of a hinderance on my life than a help.

    Not all 50 students will withhold some rent. I don't know how many yet though.
    It doesn't mean the landlord can do what they want, but by you doing everything by the books it will make it easier in the long run.

    We're not saying at all to just forget about it and pay, we're saying to go about it a different way. Landlords shouldnt treat their tenants like sh!t and there are statutory provisions that protect tenants, the small claims court is for this exact reason and they will listen to you.
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    (Original post by underthesky)
    Ahhhh ok that does make a lot more sense!

    Even so, you are contractually bound to pay rent and witholding it will cause problems. Like Vohamanah said, you should lodge a small claim.

    By doing things properly it will only make you look better and the landlord more unreasonable by not paying your money back. It will also help your claim at the end when you dispute the final rent payment.
    I understand, I'll do it even for appearance sake.

    If I wasn't to dispute the rent payment in the end then this whole thing would be pointless though, because i'd have to pay them more than £300 in a few weeks, but they're still breaking the law and it pisses me off how i'm supposed to sit and take it because i'm a student with no power. Meanwhile i'm spending 50p on meals because they decided to break the law.

    I'm a 16 stone (mainly muscle) man and I cannot live cheaply. I just require a lot of meat and this is driving me crazy.
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    threaten legal action if they do not refund your 300, they have no right to withhold that cash if it is not due yet

    also, if you can get as many residents as possible to all turn up at the landlords office at once and make a big deal about the way you have been treated, the more the better
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    (Original post by Arteta)
    I understand, I'll do it even for appearance sake.

    If I wasn't to dispute the rent payment in the end then this whole thing would be pointless though, because i'd have to pay them more than £300 in a few weeks, but they're still breaking the law and it pisses me off how i'm supposed to sit and take it because i'm a student with no power. Meanwhile i'm spending 50p on meals because they decided to break the law.
    I have an idea that may assist you, but it comes with an enormous caveat in that I have no idea what the terms of your contract with your landlord state!

    However, if one were to view your £300 instalment as an additional 'deposit' (i.e. a payment to secure from you, in this instance, the payment of the now paid rental sum (as opposed to damage to the property)), then arguably it would need to be registered as a deposit under the Tenancy Deposit Regulations. The sanction for failing to properly lodge a deposit is a fine, payable to the tenant, of 3x the value of the deposit. You could perhaps attempt to 'scare' them into refunding you by asking for details of where they have registered your deposit (which should be given to the tenant within 28? days of paying the deposit).

    I'm no expert in landlord/tenant matters, and this is thinking 'outside the box' a little - and it really depends on the terms of the contract regarding your payment schedule (in that the £300 could perhaps be regarded as an early payment, not a deposit to secure payment).
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    the only thing you can do is threaten them with the small claims court but you have to pay to start the process and you wont get any back even if you do win for ages and ages.
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    (Original post by Arteta)
    I could look into a small claims court, but I have a feeling i'll get nowhere. If we can get money to last us until student loans then this whole £300 doesn't matter too much, but it's the principle of it.

    I understand what you're saying but why is it a bad idea if I can prove that they're not holding their end of the contract? I keep getting the feeling from everybody that I should just shut up and pay, and be grateful that they didn't give me a worse service.

    Does this mean that so long as i've agreed to pay, the landlord can do whatever he wants because I have to pay that money?

    This is just bull****. I've had the worst service imaginable for a student accommodation and it's been more of a hinderance on my life than a help.

    Not all 50 students will withhold some rent. I don't know how many yet though.
    The law doesn't really see the situation as 'tit for tat' - i.e. you withhold your rent because they aren't upkeeping their side of the contract.

    It is far better to enter a small claim against your landlord asap - it DOES work! I entered a small claim against my landlord (damp leakiness etc) and whilst I didn't get all of the money I claimed, I got some of it. I'd highly recommend it.

    Also - if the service is so bad, just terminate your contract early and find somewhere else!
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    (Original post by La Songeuse)
    The law doesn't really see the situation as 'tit for tat' - i.e. you withhold your rent because they aren't upkeeping their side of the contract.

    It is far better to enter a small claim against your landlord asap - it DOES work! I entered a small claim against my landlord (damp leakiness etc) and whilst I didn't get all of the money I claimed, I got some of it. I'd highly recommend it.

    Also - if the service is so bad, just terminate your contract early and find somewhere else!
    I can't terminate the contract. I'm bound to it by law and i've already tried to get people to take my room, it's too hard. Plus I now don't have enough money to put down a deposit on a new place, also I have a dissertation to write, exams to revise for and just can't deal with this disruption.

    So basically what you're all saying is that I must pay the entire amount, including the internet that we've been complaining about for 6 or 7 months now. It's normal to have to wait an hour for a single page to load and I have to pay that money? My cleaner can refuse to clean because it's 'too messy' and she can take a quarter of her whole shift off EVERY shift just because she can get away with it and I have to shut up and pay her?

    My head wants to explode i'm just so angry about this.
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    (Original post by 0pt1m1st)
    I have an idea that may assist you, but it comes with an enormous caveat in that I have no idea what the terms of your contract with your landlord state!

    However, if one were to view your £300 instalment as an additional 'deposit' (i.e. a payment to secure from you, in this instance, the payment of the now paid rental sum (as opposed to damage to the property)), then arguably it would need to be registered as a deposit under the Tenancy Deposit Regulations. The sanction for failing to properly lodge a deposit is a fine, payable to the tenant, of 3x the value of the deposit. You could perhaps attempt to 'scare' them into refunding you by asking for details of where they have registered your deposit (which should be given to the tenant within 28? days of paying the deposit).

    I'm no expert in landlord/tenant matters, and this is thinking 'outside the box' a little - and it really depends on the terms of the contract regarding your payment schedule (in that the £300 could perhaps be regarded as an early payment, not a deposit to secure payment).
    Thankyou for the idea, but it won't work.

    I've already checked and they don't have the deposits protected. I have a licence agreement and not a tenancy agreement therefore they don't need to protect it :\
 
 
 
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