Here is a blog clinic question from James (not his real name) regarding his student daugher’s accommodation:
While I was away on holiday with my wife, my daughter and her friend found a flat they liked to share for their second year at University.
They both signed an agreement with the agent (though nothing was mentioned about a tenancy deposit scheme which I am only now aware off) along with £700 each for the deposit.
However a couple of weeks later the agent called my daughter and said over the phone the agreement needed to be superseded by one which allowed the landlord to be the one managing the property. My daughter’s friend went in and signed her section and my daughter was about to when her friend decided to drop out of University.
My daughter has now had to reconsider her situation and she cannot take the flat. The new contract is not signed by my daughter and the agent is refusing to give her friend or her a copy of the either the old and new agreements claiming that it first needs to be signed by the two of them before they allow them copies.
Surely the new agreement voids the previous agreement? Also why cannot my daughter’s friend obtain a copy a document she has signed?
Please could you advise how likely is my daughter is to get her deposit as they are saying there will be no refund and how we go about resolving this situation?
I do feel a bit sorry, I must say, for the landlord of this property, as I suspect he may have lost opportunities to let this property to other students.
Had the original agreement remained, then I think your daughter would have been in a difficult position as both she and her friend would have been bound by the terms of the agreement and liable for the rent (on a month by month basis).
However luckily for your daughter (in a way) the agent asked for a new agreement to be signed, and unluckily for your daughter’s friend she signed it. So she is in a much worse position as she is technically liable for the whole rent on her own for the year. The fact that she has decided not to go to University will not change this – this after all its not the landlords fault.
However you are quite right, the new agreement will void the old agreement and luckily for your daughter she has not signed it. So she is not bound by it and will not be liable for the rent.
However the landlord has been messed around. She was supposed to sign the agreement and she had after all agreed to take the flat – evidenced by her signature of the original agreement.
So my feeling is that the landlord is probably entitled to all or at least part of the deposit. It is mainly to compensate landlords for being messed around by tenants changing their minds that deposits are taken in the first place.
Probably the best thing for your daughter to do is to find another flat mate and take the flat. Otherwise I think she may have to put this one down to experience.
Unless maybe she is able to show that the landlord found another tenant really quickly and suffered no loss. But she would probably have to bring a county court claim to recover the money, and there is no guarantee that she would be sucessful.
So far as providing a copy of the agreement is concerned, your daughter is entitled to see and have a copy of the new tenancy before she signs it so she can take legal advice on what it says. If she were to bring proceedings to recover the deposit money she would be entitled to ask for a copy as part of the procedure.