Hi Lj1 and welcome to this forum,
I’ll try to keep this short. It’s my advice and nothing more I.e. what I would do.
Take professional advice
- Let them go and don’t stand in their way. As it stands and from what I can glean and suppose of your situation so far:
a) you are at risk of being greatly compromised and are likely eminently suable (You should all sign contracts together, same time, each as fellow witnesses, wherever practicable. Deposits should be re-protected in accordance with the requirements of the scheme being used. Oh, and they should have been correctly protected in the first place. I am going to guess for now that none of this has been done.
b) with that level of naivety, I doubt any deposit if taken has been correctly lodged/re-protected and the paperwork legally required to be issued to the tentants given either on time or at all.
The list of admin legal obligations on a landlord is considerable and some way beyond that which I have mentioned here.
I don’t think you will have done this to the satisfaction of any court but I would be delighted to hear that in fact you have.
Either way, I will help you. I am working on what you told me for now. Where I ‘presume,’ it is from experience.
- next time make sure you know the legal procedures because you risk being sued up to three times the value of the deposit if you don’t play ball with the law. In this industry, ignorance is not only no defence for a landlord, it is an aggravant.
I will end where I started.
Let these people go.
Wish them well. Keep them sweet.
They could end up your worst enemy.
…And for some time to come because they can sue well beyond end of tenancy.
Landlord since 1997
Member NLA (accred)
ps. NLA is National Landlords Association. They have a helpline. You need to talk with them. Membership is about £80 odd; there may be a cheaper associate membership.
It sounds very much like joining them and taking ‘qualified, specialist help,’ will be the best thing you have ever done as a landlord.