A tenancy deposit problem
I have received the following email from one of our readers:
My boyfriend and I moved into a 7 person flat share beginning of Nov 2008 where we were advised by the tenant moving out that there had not been a lease agreement with the Landlord via the letting agents for a while. It had expired and the agents hadn’t renewed despite the tenant asking. Anyway they said it worked for them to not bother with a new lease as the turn over of tenants was fairly regular so they started a system that a new tenant coming in just paid the tenant leaving the bond.
I have been told by the agency who we rent the property through that due to a government law bought out in April 2007 regarding deposits they would be unable to transfer the names from tenants that were on the lease at the time to my name therefore leaving me in a position where I will not be able to get the deposit back should there be a situation where we need to leave and are not replacing out selves with another tenant. Is there anything i can do about this?
This is not the first time I have been consulted in a case where ‘tenants’ move in and move out of a property without signing any form of tenancy agreement, often where the original tenants who signed the tenancy agreement have long gone.
Are they tenants or lodgers?
It raises a number of legal problems. If the original tenants are still living in the property, the incoming occupiers probably have the status of lodgers. However what is the situation when all the original tenants have left? You can’t really have a house full of lodgers under a tenancy where the tenants are no longer there.
Here are two suggestions –
- the occupiers have an oral tenancy, or
- there has been some sort of implied assignment
I would favour the oral tenancy argument, perhaps on the basis that they have a tenancy of their own room and shared use of the common parts. What do you think?
What about the deposit?
And what is the situation regarding the deposit? If this was protected (and it may not have been) it would have been protected with one of the three tenancy deposit companies, under the names of the original tenants. Is there any procedure whereby it can be paid out to the current occupiers? The original tenants won’t be interested as they will have been repaid by the incoming occupiers.
My advice to both landlords and tenants, is never allow this sort of situation to develop. It is a lazy approach to letting which benefits neither party, and which can be very prejudicial to either.