Forum Home Search Login Register
+  Landlord Forum
|-+  General Category
| |-+  Landlord Advice & Help
| | |-+  no win no fee letter

no win no fee letter

Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: no win no fee letter  (Read 520 times)
Newbie
Posts: 34

This country used to respect landlords!

« on: July 11, 2022, 10:04:05 AM »

Hello all,

I have received a letter not from a notorious no win no fee legal firm demanded an extremely high sum for an alleged breach of the tenancy deposit rules.

As I am aware the law says that the maximum any tenant can be entitled to assuming a breach is committed equals three times their tenancy. However this firm is trying to claim significantly more including lawyers' time.

please advise how to rebut this. I am not against paying to settle but the sums mentioned in this very aggressive correspondence are completely unreasonable!!
Full Member
Posts: 115

I like property

« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2022, 10:53:03 AM »

There can be a number of breaches during one let to a tenant if there are multiple tenancies.
The fees that the firm charge are likely to vastly exceed the amount being claimed, as that's there reason for making the claim.
The longer the dispute lasts, the higher the legal fees will be, and if the case goes to court and you lose (which will be the case unless you didn't breach the regulations) the legal fees can be subject to a win bonus which can (in an extreme case) double them.

I'd negotiate and try and settle as quickly as possible.
There's no win for a landlord who broke the rules once a no win no fee firm get's involved.

From next April, this kind of claim won't be possible, and it's possible that, if you hold out long enough, the claim may not make it into court by then - although I am not at all sure what happens to existing cases when the rules for claims change.
You'd need to take legal advice on that.

Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 614

I like poetry

« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2022, 11:33:16 AM »

I presume this is the latest chapter in this saga: https://www.landlordforumproject.co.uk/landlord-advice-help/deposit-dispute-6621/

As of yet, I have not acknowledged the letter. I spoke to a very legally savvy friend of mine this weekend who said "the world is full of people threatening to sue in order to try get my money but in reality you need three things to take someone to court.... money, time and brains... not many people have all three!" They do not have a lawyer so I believe this is the case here.

Now that they have a lawyer, they have the brains (sort of...) and the time, and soon they'll have the money.
Full Member
Posts: 240

I like property

« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2022, 12:02:56 PM »

I presume this is the latest chapter in this saga: https://www.landlordforumproject.co.uk/landlord-advice-help/deposit-dispute-6621/

As of yet, I have not acknowledged the letter. I spoke to a very legally savvy friend of mine this weekend who said "the world is full of people threatening to sue in order to try get my money but in reality you need three things to take someone to court.... money, time and brains... not many people have all three!" They do not have a lawyer so I believe this is the case here.

Now that they have a lawyer, they have the brains (sort of...) and the time, and soon they'll have the money.
Basically, the OP has tried to wait out the tenants assuming no action would be taken and now they have.

I'd actually argue the OP has not been reasonable from the beginning and now is likely to have lost out on more money.

I'd advise trying to settle and learning from your mistakes.
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 1586

I like property

« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2022, 12:11:51 PM »

There's no telling some people is there ?  All who responded advised trying to settle,but he chose to listen to that very arrogant friend.
Newbie
Posts: 34

This country used to respect landlords!

« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2022, 03:13:38 PM »

I have made the tenants a generous and reasonable offer to settle and await their response
Full Member
Posts: 217

Landlord - always learning

« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2022, 05:53:34 PM »

There's no telling some people is there ?  All who responded advised trying to settle,but he chose to listen to that very arrogant friend.

Yep.

Lots of us tried but there was an "I know best" arrogance all the way through: https://www.landlordforumproject.co.uk/landlord-advice-help/deposit-dispute-6621/msg34054/#msg34054
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 614

I like poetry

« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2022, 06:38:44 PM »

I have made the tenants a generous and reasonable offer to settle and await their response

Unfortunately you've now got the long armpit of the law involved, and their definition of generous and reasonable probably doesn't match yours. Previously you could have offered a nice little lump sum - three grand in the hand with nobody taking a cut is hard to say no to. Now you're effectively on the hook for at least 2x the deposit plus fees, because the lawyers know that's the minimum a judge can award, and they won't mind the cost of going to court if you're going to be the one who pays it.
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 4503

Abuse Officer

« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2022, 06:51:30 PM »

I have received a letter not from a notorious no win no fee legal firm demanded an extremely high sum for an alleged breach of the tenancy deposit rules.

The last time you brought this up your plan was to do nothing:

Quote
I think the solution is quite simple... if I recieve court papers, I can return to their offer and consider it.

Has anything actually changed? You put your head in the sand last time, and at least one person even advised you that "...most no win no fee companies will decline to take any action on a claim for not issuing PI only,..." but that wasn't your barrier of doing something, I thought?

Aren't you going to continue just ignoring everything until the day you are invited to attend Court?

I always advise settling... but I usually mean earlier than this stage, when you can do with between Landlord and Tenant. That ship has sailed, unfortunately. I suppose you could reply, putting your version of events forward, but you've got to be realistic - they aren't going to pay any attention to any 'facts' (especially those that aren't accompanied by proof - which I recall was part of your problem before) as all they want is to shake you down for the most money. So they'll do their own version of "la-la, I'm not listening" or come back with something that seems tempting (possibly a reply to something you propose) but it'll be more painful than if you had opened up genuine negotiations back in May.
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 4503

Abuse Officer

« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2022, 06:54:12 PM »

...but he chose to listen to that very arrogant friend.

Legally-savvy friend.
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 4503

Abuse Officer

« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2022, 06:57:20 PM »

I have made the tenants a generous and reasonable offer to settle and await their response

Generous and reasonable are both subjective terms when used here.

I would aim for tempting. You spoke to us and a legally-blonde-savvy friend. There's no telling who they've spoken to - but many folk could be whispering in their ear that a big payday is due. You have to make the bird in the hand appear appealing to the point where they don't want to wait for what they - undoubtedly - believe will be a bigger reward for the way you trod over their rights. ;-)
Hero Member
Posts: 741

I like property

« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2022, 07:02:51 PM »

From next April, this kind of claim won't be possible ....

You've mentioned sucess fee here and at the other forum a few times. I've just had a quick google, and don't think that (losing defendent paying) sucess fee is allowed on deposit protection type cases? Not since like 2013?

If I'm wrong, then no, the upcoming changes is not retroactive, will only apply to new cases.

In any case, I think you may be reading too much into OP's post. The large sum demanded is probably just 3x how ever many tenancies, plus cost.
Newbie
Posts: 34

This country used to respect landlords!

« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2022, 08:19:08 PM »

I have received a letter not from a notorious no win no fee legal firm demanded an extremely high sum for an alleged breach of the tenancy deposit rules.

The last time you brought this up your plan was to do nothing:

Quote
I think the solution is quite simple... if I recieve court papers, I can return to their offer and consider it.

Has anything actually changed? You put your head in the sand last time, and at least one person even advised you that "...most no win no fee companies will decline to take any action on a claim for not issuing PI only,..." but that wasn't your barrier of doing something, I thought?

Aren't you going to continue just ignoring everything until the day you are invited to attend Court?

I always advise settling... but I usually mean earlier than this stage, when you can do with between Landlord and Tenant. That ship has sailed, unfortunately. I suppose you could reply, putting your version of events forward, but you've got to be realistic - they aren't going to pay any attention to any 'facts' (especially those that aren't accompanied by proof - which I recall was part of your problem before) as all they want is to shake you down for the most money. So they'll do their own version of "la-la, I'm not listening" or come back with something that seems tempting (possibly a reply to something you propose) but it'll be more painful than if you had opened up genuine negotiations back in May.

I have a signed statement from my former agent that the PI was given to the tenants in person. I have sent this to the tenant's lawyers. However I have also said that I would be prepared to reach mutual settlement in order to keep the case out of court. I have offered £3,000 as a final offer.
Hero Member
Posts: 741

I like property

« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2022, 08:35:26 PM »

I have offered £3,000 as a final offer.

Err....

The deposit was £1,900

Given there were two tenancies (fixed term and then a SPT), I think you're going to court.
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 4503

Abuse Officer

« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2022, 11:52:46 PM »

I think we should wait and see what the other side comes back with... there's a lot of intangible value to the bird in the hand. £3,000 is not a paltry sum, but it depends what the ex-Tenants would see at the end of the day now a third party has become involved... that's the real frustration here... if £3,000 had been offered earlier I think it would have had a better chance. From the no-win-no-fee company... it's a win, so there's a fee, they'll be happy too.
Hero Member
Posts: 741

I like property

« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2022, 12:09:15 AM »

The ex-tenant has probably agreed to accept the lawyer's recommendation as part of going with a CFA. CFA specialist do like easy wins, but I don't think they're going go with a settlement that's less than the minimal the tenant can win not even including any cost to be awarded.

Will see if OP returns with update I guess.
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 4503

Abuse Officer

« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2022, 10:16:44 AM »

Yarp, I don't (can't) disagree that the Landlord's generous and reasonable offer to settle should at least been the equivalent of minimum exposure. It certainly feels like there's something mentally AWOL with this Landlord, a real petulance at the fact this is even happening. While I can see that point of view, everyone must get behind reality - and I don't think anyone here couldn't see this happening. However, I do just feel we might be proven wrong because even though the Landlord is offering less than the minimum if it goes to Court, it still has to go to Court... and that could be months... so (I don't know what the cuts these firms are like) if the ex-Tenant is presented with £2,000 in their pocket right now... could be tempting vs. an undefined (but guaranteed) "more" (along with more fees, I assume?) later.

Maybe the Landlord expects a little to-and-fro to happen now and envisages them finally settling on £3,800? Could be very canny. Isn't there some truth behind never accept the first offer / counter-offer?

The thing is - now there's an offer on the table from Landlord to ex-Tenant... they have won and another Landlord has, hopefully, learned their lesson. Only the scale of their win is now up for grabs. It is yet another example (if we ever needed one) of how Landlords cannot realistically expect to ignore these claims. From what we were told from the outset I got a sniff that these Tenants kinda knew what they were all about... but £3,000 in May could easily have meant this outcome didn't arise.
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 1586

I like property

« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2022, 11:08:22 AM »

The landlord does at least have time on his side.I am currently taking someone to Small Claims.There is a huge backlog,and I will be lucky if I get a judgement 12 months from when I started. It depends a lot on the postcode,it could be much longer.Even then,there are things  the defendant can do to evade payment.Of course,he will have a CCJ against his name.Even when the debt is discharged it may still show up on records. No one on here has a vested interest in giving advice,whilst friends can have ulterior motives.That's why I prefer dogs. 
Newbie
Posts: 34

This country used to respect landlords!

« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2022, 02:06:51 PM »

The landlord does at least have time on his side.I am currently taking someone to Small Claims.There is a huge backlog,and I will be lucky if I get a judgement 12 months from when I started. It depends a lot on the postcode,it could be much longer.Even then,there are things  the defendant can do to evade payment.Of course,he will have a CCJ against his name.Even when the debt is discharged it may still show up on records. No one on here has a vested interest in giving advice,whilst friends can have ulterior motives.That's why I prefer dogs.

yes exactly... and if it goes to court i will present this signed and sworn statement from my former agent that the tenants were given the PI. This will surely have some effect on the money awarded.

right now I am outraged at the tactics not only of these "no win no fee" firms but also the multitude of activist groups (Shelter etc) who are actively trying to get tenants to extort money this way. I am in discussions with my MP about this!
Full Member
Posts: 217

Landlord - always learning

« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2022, 03:02:03 PM »

if it goes to court i will present this signed and sworn statement from my former agent that the tenants were given the PI. This will surely have some effect on the money awarded.

I'm still a little puzzled.

In the earlier thread, you said that you protected the deposit yourself: https://www.landlordforumproject.co.uk/landlord-advice-help/deposit-dispute-6621/msg34039/#msg34039

So how is it that your agent is able to say that they gave the tenants the Prescribed Information? You were the person dealing with the deposit protection company, so you (not your agent) would have had the Prescribed Information.

Hero Member
Posts: 741

I like property

« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2022, 03:32:37 PM »

right now I am outraged at the tactics not only of these "no win no fee" firms but also the multitude of activist groups (Shelter etc) who are actively trying to get tenants to extort money this way. I am in discussions with my MP about this!

Oh for heaven sake. There's no extortion. The law was passed by parliament to force landlords to protect their tenant's deposit with a view that this will provide increased protection to tenant against dodgy landlords who may try to claim deductions from the deposit without justification. Parliament chose to provide enforcement of this through allowing tenants to sue for a financial penalty where their landlord failed to comply with the requirements. Initially there were no discretion in the amount of penalty in England and Wales, but that discretion was later given changing the penalty from always 3x the amount of the deposit to between 1x and 3x as determined by the court. The time for landlord's compliance was also more than doubled. The requirements have been in force for more than 15 years now, there is no excuse for landlords not to be aware of it. Complying with relevant legal requirements is literally what you're required to do when you're doing business, and letting out property whether one or one hundred is doing business. If you have fully complied with the legal requirements, then go and defend yourself in court. You win, you pay nothing, and can even ask for your legal cost from the tenant. If you didn't fully comply, then yes you are going to have to pay out a penalty. However much hated by motorist for example, if you were speeding and got a speeding ticket, it is not extortion when they make you pay the resulting fine.

yes exactly... and if it goes to court i will present this signed and sworn statement from my former agent that the tenants were given the PI. This will surely have some effect on the money awarded.

Either deposit protected and correct PI was given, on time, in which case no breach and no penalty is due, or it wasn't in which case a penalty is due. Could the court take into account an attempt to provide PI, but what was given was insufficient to comply with the legal requirements? Sure. But your offer is less than the minimal penalty legally mandated so no it's not going to have an effect that far.
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 4503

Abuse Officer

« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2022, 03:51:07 PM »

right now I am outraged at the tactics not only of these "no win no fee" firms but also the multitude of activist groups (Shelter etc) who are actively trying to get tenants to extort money this way.

You need to be more circumspect with words like this... you've already accepted you were at fault, otherwise you would not have made your generous and reasonable offer, would you? It stands to reason if you really thought you were a victim of attempted extortion you would fight it all the way, as anyone could see through an attempt like that, never mind a Court - and it would never reach Court, let's face it.

What has actually happened here is that things weren't done as they should have been, your ex-Tenants realised there's a great chance of you paying them a penalty for not doing what you are obliged to do, you tried to ignore them for some time and hoped they'd go away, and they didn't... why?... well, because they - actually - have right on their side... otherwise their case would not have been taken on by this firm and you would not have been quickly and effectively frightened into the position of making a £3,000 offer to try and make it go away. A signed / sworn / bloodied statement from an Agent won't go far in Court, will it? How is that credible? An Agent should know what they're doing and the key thing here is evidence. There is none.

There's no extortion at play here. I imagine the high-water-mark figure that's been demanded of you is a multiple of £1,900 (probably 6x?) and some extra for fees? Maybe around £12,000? Why wouldn't the other side seek the maximum? To me that's totally expected.

And why wouldn't you propose the minimum? Seems like common sense, hmm.

But you didn't, did you? You have proposed £3,000 - which as has already been pointed out - is less than 1x - therefore less than the minimum exposure you have. Are you trying really hard to make there be no actual incentive for them to settle? What's the upside for them today? Unless they're in financial dire straits (money for nothin' and your chicks for free) or want to go on holiday ASAP. I hope they jump at it, but as postulated by KTC - what's the actual point if it's accepted the Deposit was £1,900 and it's accepted there's two breaches? That is > £3,000.

So - there's no extortion. More likely there's another attempt by you at short-changing the ex-Tenants from their due. And you might get away with it too.

You are outraged only because you were caught. Sorry for the hard conclusion, but it's self-evident. You didn't believe such a thing could happen at first - I could tell - now you realise it's really real and, yes, it's as bad as folk were telling you (at least it has the potential to be). This isn't about respect for Landlords... but a Landlord's respect for the law. If every Landlord out there fulfilled their simple and easy obligation regarding Deposit protection - neither Shelter or any other 'activist group' would have anything to do in this regard - as it would be impossible. You cannot blame the ex-Tenants for following the law... it's just a business relationship and you didn't hold up your part of the bargain (in this respect).

We all need clear heads when dealing with sums like this. Your £3,000 might have legs. However, I don't consider it generous or reasonable, like you do, so please be prepared to go to at least 1x your minimum liability if it's rejected. Your own high water mark (before accepting you'll be attending Court) should be established too... is it 1.5x, 2x... even 3x (but I really hope you don't like that). I am hoping a 1x offer gets them to bite if £3,000 doesn't.

But I'd be pleased to hear they jumped on the £3,000. That would be a success (although it won't feel like it). Please come back and let us know...
Full Member
Posts: 115

I like property

« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2022, 04:36:09 PM »

You've mentioned sucess fee here and at the other forum a few times. I've just had a quick google, and don't think that (losing defendent paying) sucess fee is allowed on deposit protection type cases? Not since like 2013?
I could very well be wrong - my personal experience of no win no fee cases is pre-2013, so it might very well have changed without me being aware of it.
A quick google tells me you're probably right (again!).

Quote
If I'm wrong, then no, the upcoming changes is not retroactive, will only apply to new cases.
The change next year looks really interesting.
Fixed recoverable costs will be set depending on the size of the claim, the complexity of the case and the stage of litigation reached.
So for most deposit penalty claims (which I imagine are not that complex from a legal point of view) there's unlikely to be much of a fee until a claim is actually made, which takes away the business model of many of these companies.

Quote
In any case, I think you may be reading too much into OP's post. The large sum demanded is probably just 3x how ever many tenancies, plus cost.
Could be - from the other thread I got the impression it was a PI related claim only.
But I've been wrong before!
Hero Member
Posts: 741

I like property

« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2022, 05:10:03 PM »

I am hoping a 1x offer gets them to bite if £3,000 doesn't.

A 1x times 2 tenancies plus legal cost should get them to bite, especially if presented in a formal Part 36 offer with its associated consequences, as that's probably the court's award if (based on the older thread) that the deposit really was protected and just the presscribed information not correctly / fully given.
Newbie
Posts: 34

This country used to respect landlords!

« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2022, 02:18:52 PM »

They have rejected the £3000 offer and made a Part 36 offer for £6000

I have once again reminded them of their terrible conduct throughout the tenancy which I will raise in court and which will ensure they do not get more than the bare minimum.

I will refuse their offer and issue my own Part 36 offer for £3500.

The battle begins!
Full Member
Posts: 217

Landlord - always learning

« Reply #25 on: July 17, 2022, 02:37:45 PM »

I have once again reminded them of their terrible conduct throughout the tenancy which I will raise in court

Is it in any way relevant to the legal point (Prescribed Information not provided) that is being judged?


Quote
and which will ensure they do not get more than the bare minimum.

It's my belief that it's any mitigating circumstances associated with the landlord's conduct in relation to the deposit that determines the size of the award.

I don't think a he said/she said argument over the tenants' conduct will have any bearing on it.

« Last Edit: July 17, 2022, 06:17:23 PM by HandyMan »
Hero Member
Posts: 741

I like property

« Reply #26 on: July 17, 2022, 07:10:23 PM »

I will refuse their offer and issue my own Part 36 offer for £3500.

The threat of not accepting a Part 36 offer from the other side is adverse cost consequence if you don't beat the offer when you otherwise won the case. If you lose the case you pay cost anyway. Your offer is below the minimum they can win if they win the case, i.e. they are guaranteed to beat the offer if they win. So they should accept why?
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 4503

Abuse Officer

« Reply #27 on: July 17, 2022, 07:18:39 PM »

I have once again reminded them of their terrible conduct throughout the tenancy which I will raise in court and which will ensure they do not get more than the bare minimum.

But it's not relevant, and mentioning it won't ensure anything at all. You cannot ensure anything, all you can do is bluster and, maybe, hope you hit a moral nerve of some kind.

And isn't the bare minimum still more than your revised offer anyway?

I don't get this. Could be hardball negotiation... but it seems more like... a vexatious and time-wasting approach? Probably shouldn't use that term as I believe it carries a more formal meaning in law.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2022, 08:40:23 PM by Hippogriff »
Hero Member
Posts: 741

I like property

« Reply #28 on: July 17, 2022, 08:54:52 PM »

I don't get this. Could be hardball negotiation... but it seems more like... a vexatious and time-wasting approach? Probably shouldn't use that term as I believe it carries a more formal meaning in law.

It's a good way to drive up the other side legal cost which you'll be paying.
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 4503

Abuse Officer

« Reply #29 on: July 17, 2022, 09:26:41 PM »

Touché.

(I tried to look up the English word for this, but my computer wouldn't connect to Google properly).
Pages: [1] 2
Print