Tenants who trashed an apartment and then abandoned it owing three months of rent, have won their case against their landlord, even though the court accepted their actions were wrong.
The damage was so extensive that £1,500 of repairs had to be carried out before the flat could be let again.
The landlord, who has asked not to be named, took the tenants to court and won £4,413 – £4,100 to cover lost rent and damages, and £313 in extra compensation.
But the tenants counter-sued on the grounds that the landlord had not correctly lodged their tenancy deposit with an approved scheme.
The landlord’s relief at winning the money was short-lived when the judge told her that she owned them even more, and ordered her to pay the tenants a balance of £94.82.
The Residential Landlords Association is now to take the case to appeal on the landlord’s behalf.
After the hearing, the landlord said: “I was gutted. It just proved that honesty and fair treatment do not count for anything these days."
“I trod carefully when the rent arrears began last spring because it’s so easy for payment requests to be branded as harassment. But, after a series of letters and phone calls, I received no response so began repossession proceedings."
“Eventually, the keys turned up in the post, two months after the end of the tenancy, and it became clear the flat had been abandoned."
“If they had left it in reasonable condition, I would still have accepted the loss of rent, but walls were broken, things were burned and stained, there was rotting food, general human filth and even class A drugs left behind.”
She added that when she realised she had not lodged the deposit, she did so retrospectively. Her belief was that the law allows this: “But the judge did not understand this and so awarded them more money than they had to pay me … I ended up owing them £93.64."
“It never occurred to me that I would be the loser. I have been in this business for 25 years, am a member of the country’s leading association for professional landlords and belong to a recognised tenancy deposit scheme. "
“I am a responsible person and had done everything expected of me. The tenants had no complaint, until I began asking them for money that they had a contractual obligation to pay."
“The whole court ruling was shambolic and I’m now left with serious disappointment in the legal profession."
“It also sets a dangerous precedent that could be used against other landlords in future.”
Richard Jones, the RLA’s lawyer, said: “This landlord did everything she was required to do, yet the judge’s misreading of the Housing Act’s tenancy deposit protection measures, as well as the spirit of the Act, blatantly showed how such hearings things rarely go in favour of private sector landlords.”
“This landlord did nothing wrong and, at every point, tried to put things right. However, the law seems to reward dishonesty.”
Source: Estate Agent Today – 19th August 2009